For convenience, quietness and ease of use, you can’t beat a cordless chainsaw.
Clearly, they won’t suit you if you need a chainsaw to work on large trees and logs over extended periods, but give them the right jobs to do and you may be surprised at how useful they are.
Size and power of cordless chainsaws
Since cordless chainsaws are battery powered, the power rating is stated in Volts (V).
You can find cordless chainsaws with power ratings between a modest 8 Volts and a surprisingly powerful 40 Volts, which is the rating of the Oregon Powernow model pictured above.
Guide bars on cordless chainsaws can be as small as 4.5 inches and as long as 14 inches (11.5 to 36 cm).
Prices can range from between about $70 and $500.
How do cordless chainsaws compare to corded electric and gas chainsaws?
As you can see from the wide range of power outputs, bar sizes and prices, there is a pretty big spread of capability amongst cordless chainsaws, so it’s not that easy to generalize when making comparisons with the other kinds of saws.
That said, there are some basic truths about cordless chainsaws that can be stated. So, in broad terms, I’d say that these are the main points of comparison:
Firstly, cordless chainsaws are the quietest of all three types. They can therefore be used indoors without problems.
They are also very versatile and, as they are battery operated, they can be used almost anywhere as long as the battery is charged.
Since they are generally lighter and less powerful they are probably a little safer and easier to use than the other types of chainsaw, offering less chance of dangerous kickbacks.
The biggest disadvantage of this type of saw is the fact that batteries only hold a charge for a limited period. Smaller models will work for around 30 minutes to an hour, larger models for longer.
But, if you are looking to use a cordless model for any significant length of time, you will need more than one battery, or you will constantly be waiting for the batteries to re-charge.
Also, most cordless models will offer less power than a comparable corded or gas powered saw, so they won’t be suitable for your most demanding jobs.
Features to look out for in cordless chainsaws
The key feature on a cordless chainsaw is the battery.
Look for a lithium ion battery. These are the latest in power tool battery technology and are far superior in performance compared to other types of battery, such as nickle cadmium (Ni-cad).
The main advantages of lithium ion batteries are that:
- they are able to produce more power with a lighter weight,
- they do not lose power and performance as the battery discharges – you’ll see this described as ‘no fade’,
- they do not have the familiar ‘memory effect’ of some batteries. In other words, they don’t have to be fully discharged before you can recharge them, and
- they retain their power even when left off charge for weeks or even months at a time.
The other main battery point to watch out is the size of the battery pack.
This is really more relevant at the top end of the cordless chainsaw range, but is especially important if you want to use the saw for cutting large diameter limbs of wood.
A battery back with a higher number of cells will give more power (which allows for higher speed cutting) and will last longer.
The downside of this is that the larger pack will weigh more.
As a example, Oregon offers an Endurance battery pack (pictured) and a standard battery pack with its Powernow models.
The Endurance pack has 20 cells and weighs 2.7lb (1.2kg) and the standard pack has 10 cells and weighs 1.7lb (0.8kg).
Oregon’s literature states that:
“A Standard battery pack will last approximately 50% of an Endurance battery pack. Cuts per charge will drop significantly with increasing diameter of wood.
With an Endurance battery pack, in 2 to 3 inch (5-7cm) diameter limbs, the chainsaw will make a cut in approximately 1 second. In 3 to 6 inch (7-15 cm) diameter limbs, the chainsaw will take approximately 4 seconds, while large 8 to 10 inch (20-25 cm) diameter cuts will take approximately 25 seconds.
This performance may vary with user technique, chain sharpness, and hardness of the wood. Cutting speeds with a Standard battery pack are very similar in small diameter limbs. An Endurance battery pack offers increased power for faster cutting speed in large diameter wood.”
As with any chainsaws, also look out for a good balanced design and safety shut-off features.
Best uses for cordless chainsaws
Cleary, most cordless chainsaws are lower powered and have smaller cutting bars than other kinds of models. Nevertheless, they will definitely suit some users very well.
I’d suggest that a cordless chainsaw will suit you if:
- You want your chainsaw for trimming small to medium limbs and cutting small to medium logs and timbers,
- You want the convenience of an electric chainsaw without the inconvenience of the cords,
- You want to be able to use the saw outside the range of a power source but you don’t want the maintenance and complications associated with a gas powered chainsaw,
- You want or need to have chainsaw that is relatively quite so that you can use it without disturbing the neighbors or where noise restrictions apply,
- You want a chainsaw that is relatively light in weight and easy to maneuver and handle,
- You want a chainsaw that you can use conveniently indoors.
The main point I’d make about cordless chainsaws is that you shouldn’t underestimate how good they can be.
You need to be careful that you don’t have very high expectations in terms of power and battery life at the lower end of the market.
There is one consumer grade cordless chainsaw that stands head and shoulders above the rest – the Oregon PowerNow CSE205E (pictured at the top of the page). Read our comprehensive review of this 40 Volt, 14 inch Oregon chainsaw here.
If the Oregon PowerNow CS250E is more chainsaw than you need or can afford, then you’re bound to find what you need amongst our choice of the 6 ‘best of the rest’ cordless chainsaws. Check out the list here.
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