Electric Chainsaw Selection Guide
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Look for the following important factors when buying an electric chainsaw,
Electric chainsaws come in variety of sizes starting from as low as 4-6” and going up to 18-20”. In order to chose the correct size, look for the largest diameter tree or wood that want to cut and select a size 2-3” larger than that.
In United States alone, more than 28,000 chainsaw related injuries are experienced therefore always check the safety features of the chainsaw you intend to buy. Some of the most important features include,
1. Reduced-Kickback Guide Bar: It is a guide bar that has been optimized to reduce the intensity of kickback if it occurs and prevent the chainsaw from hitting the operator causing fatal injury. Generally, the characteristic feature of such a bar is its small radius nose. This piece of information can be found in chainsaw manual available for download on manufacturer’s website.
2. Low-Kickback Chain: It is a chain that has met kickback performance requirements of ANSI B175.1–2012 – a chainsaw safety standard. This piece of information can be found in chainsaw manual available for download on manufacturer’s website.
3. Motor Brake: A motor brake is a brake that allows the chainsaw to stop as soon as you release the trigger i.e. it prevents the chain from spinning under its inertia after release of trigger.
4. Front Hand Guard Integrated Brake: It is one of the most important safety features in an electric chainsaw. If the hand guard is depressed, it will stop the saw immediately. It has been designed for safety such that in case of a kickback, when the chainsaw will kick back towards you, your hand will most likely hit the guard and depress it thereby stopping the chainsaw immediately to prevent a fatal injury.
5. Trigger Safety Lock Off: It is a simple button or lever lock off mechanism that must be pressed before you could squeeze the trigger to start the chainsaw. It prevents unintentional starting up of the chainsaw.
Maintenance is an inevitable part and parcel of chainsaws, however, electric chainsaws require less maintenance. Nonetheless, look for the following main features,
1. Automatic Oiling System: An automatic oiling system requires you to simply fill an oil reservoir and leave the rest to the chainsaw itself. It will introduce oil between chain and bar itself and you wouldn’t need to take a break from work just to oil the chain.
2. Type of Motor: A brushless motor will eliminate the need for replacement of brushes. Moreover, it is better in efficiency as well in the long run.
3. Tool Free Chain Tensioning: Majority of modern chainsaws come with a knob for tensioning the chain so that you don’t have to take a break from your work to grab a tool for that purpose. Moreover, when you work with the saw for a certain time duration, chain heats up and expands and requires re-tensioning. A tool free chain tensioning mechanism allows you to get it done in a matter of seconds.
4. Automatic Chain sharpening: Chain sharpening is a mandatory maintenance task of chainsaws. In our research, we found a unique feature in Oregon Electric Chainsaw Model CS1500 (18″/15.0 Amp) called the Powersharp technology that minimizes downtime by allowing you to sharpen your chain right on the saw in 3 seconds or less with the press of a single button.
Electric chainsaws come in both corded and cordless variants. Cordless models are better for occasional use and in remote areas where power source is not available such as camping or storm cleanup. Corded models have unlimited runtime as long as they are plugged in. Go for a cordless model if portability is in your top priorities otherwise go for a corded model.
Warranty length as well as terms are both equally important. 1 Year warranty is standard in all brands and many brands offer better than that. Many brands have separate warranty terms for personal and professional use.
-Stihl offers 3 year warranty for personal, family or household Use and 2 year warranty for professional use.
-DEWALT offers 3 Years warranty with 1 year free replacement of parts worn out through normal use and 90 days money back guarantee.
-Greenworks offers 2 year warranty while Makita offers 1 Year warranty.
-EGO offers a lengthy 5 year warranty for personal and household use, however, reduces it to 1 year for commercial or professional use.
-Black+Decker offers 2 year warranty (for home use only) for its chainsaw model LP1000 model while for LCS1240B, it offers 3 year warranty (for home use).
The main point here is that there are many different warranty terms out there and it is always better to check if anything important is inside the terms apart from its duration in years.
Last but not the lease, it is very important to check what is included in the package. If it is cordless electric chainsaw, always check whether it is a bare tool or a kit with batteries included. Some other important items include chain oil, blade cover and pole.
The size of the chainsaw is dependent on the type of your application. It must be a little greater than the job you are cutting. For example if your applications involves cutting trees, you must estimate the diameter of the tree trunks you will mostly cut and select a size slightly greater than that. For example, if you are cutting 10 inch tree trunks, go for at least a 12 inch bar size chainsaw.
At Handy Tool Adviser, we always say that the best tool is the one whose qualities match your priorities and whose shortcomings match your acceptable compromises. Electric chainsaws have the following advantages and limitations when compared to gas chainsaws.
Electric Chainsaw Advantages over Gas Chainsaws
1. Reduced maintenance because you’ve eliminated the two-stroke engine.
2. Reduced noise because an electric motor makes less noise than an engine.
3. Unlimited runtime as long as you are plugged in (no need to refuel the engine with gasoline).
4. Smoother operation due to absence of engine vibrations.
5. Lighter weight because an engine is heavier than equivalent electric motor.
6. Zero gas emission allowing you to work in closed environment comfortably without making ventilation necessary.
Electric Chainsaw Limitations as compared to Gas Chainsaws
1. Cordless models have limited runtime before you need recharging of battery whereas gas chainsaws will continue to work as soon as you top up gasoline.
2. Corded models have limited portability because they will not run without a power source. That reduces their flexibility in working at remote areas such as during overlanding or storm cleanup. Moreover, even if a power source is available, length of cord will limit you from working far away from power source.
Coming back to the question that which is better, electric chainsaws are better in terms of overall user experience, comfort and ergonomics. However, gas chainsaws are more portable allowing greater flexibility especially in remote applications.
Apart from above, bar sizes greater than 18” are dominated by gas chainsaws in the market as electric chainsaw industry has not yet been able to develop large electric chainsaws for heavy duty applications comparable in performance to gas chainsaws. However, it is likely to change as in any industry, electrical machines are replacing engine driven machines with time.
CC stands for cubic centimeters that is a unit of volume. In chainsaws, cc refer to the volumetric displacement rating of the two-stroke engine powering the saw. In layman terms, it gives the size of the engine in terms of how much air fills up the engine cylinders. Larger engines will have larger cylinders and therefore larger cc ratings. A larger cc rating therefore, although technically inconsistent, is taken as a measure of engine’s power.
That brings this article to an end. We are confident that if you consider the factors we have explained in this post, you will reach the right decision in your choice for an electric chainsaw that fits your requirements.
If interested, you may check out our post on best electric chainsaws in which we have reviewed 18 popular models to provide you with some good options.
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