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Updated March 2017

The Best Electric Chainsaws

Updated March 2017
Makita
UC4051A Electric
Remington
RM1425 Limb N Trim
Worx
WG303.1
GreenWorks
Pro GCS80420
Black & Decker
Max Lithium Ion LCS1240
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Bottom Line

The best electric chainsaw on the market. Powerful enough for all but the most demanding tasks.

Not very powerful, but if you only need to cut modest limbs occasionally, it's ideal.

A popular electric chainsaw that delivers excellent value for the money.

If you really need a big cordless chainsaw, this is it, but the Makita is better.

The best entry-level cordless chainsaw, though it needs frequent charging.

Good

A high-performance corded chainsaw that's a match for similar size gas models.

Lightweight and easy-to-use chainsaw ready to go straight out of the box.

Low-cost electric chainsaw with many features found on more expensive machines.

Remarkable power from a cordless chainsaw. Fast recharge times.

High-quality cordless that’s great for small/medium gardens.

Bad

Difficult to find problems or critics. The only negative is the price.

Called "Limb & Trim' for a reason; good for small branches only.

A few reliability issues (though owner maintenance could be a factor). Some difficulty sourcing spares.

Expensive. Claimed to be a gas equivalent, but only runs for an hour.

Small bar size, modest performance, moderate battery life.

Luke
EXPERT CONSULTANT

Luke owned and operated his own lawn and landscaping business for over a decade. Founding the business and growing it prior to an acquisition, Luke led all procurement decisions, from the purchase of blowers and lawn mowers to weed whackers and tillers. Luke uses all of these machines regularly.


Luke  |  Landscaping Professional

SHOPPING GUIDE FOR BEST ELECTRIC CHAINSAWS

The best electric chainsaws offer definite advantages over their gas-powered counterparts. They're light, quiet, better for the environment, and easy to start. Arguably, they offer a greater choice of size and power than gas-powered chainsaws, too. But this wide range of options can present problems. It's tough to know how to choose the best electric chainsaw for your own needs.

Sure, stores and manufacturers offer plenty of advice, but what about an independent view? That's where the BestReviews team steps in.

We never accept manufacturer samples; we go out and buy the products we want to test. Then we take them to our BestReviews lab and put them through their paces. And though we're tough on our test products, we try not to break them so we can donate them to charity when we’re done.

The chainsaws in our product matrix, above, are all quality products that we highly recommend. What follows below is an in-depth look at the electric chainsaw market. If you need help picking the right tool for your needs, please read on.

The Stihl company is known for its gas-powered chainsaws. Andreas Stihl was the first to patent the electric chainsaw in1926.

CORDED VS CORDLESS

Perhaps the most important decision when choosing an electric chainsaw is whether to go for a corded or cordless model.

Advantages of corded chainsaws

Corded Electric Chainsaw Pros

  • Lightweight (as little as five or six pounds)
  • No gas or oil to carry around
  • No harmful emissions
  • Can be very cheap
  • Easy to start: plug in and pull the trigger
  • Quiet enough to be used where noise could be a problem
  • Low-maintenance
  • Top models rival the cutting power of small/medium gas models
Disadvantages of corded chainsaws

Corded Electric Chainsaw Cons

Although some electric corded models are made of plastic, others are made of steel. High-end steel models may be more robust, but there’s a weight penalty. At eleven pounds and upward, there can be little to choose between corded, cordless, and gas.

Speaking of cords, we must also point out that fact that they can get tangled, which is both frustrating and dangerous when you’re using a chainsaw. And because there’s a 15-amp maximum in home electrical sockets, you’re somewhat limited. Furthermore, it’s a pain to deal with an extension cord, and you cannot carry your electric corded model more than 100 feet away from the source because of current drop. (Resistance in the cable soaks up power.)

Like most things, corded electric chainsaws run the gamut in terms of quality. A cheap corded electric chainsaw is certainly tempting, but it may present you with durability issues down the road.

Advantages of cordless chainsaws

Cordless Electric Chainsaw Pros

  • No gas, oil, or cord to lug around
  • Easy to start: connect battery, pull trigger
  • Quiet
  • Low-maintenance
  • No harmful emissions
Disadvantages of cordless chainsaws

Cordless Electric Chainsaw Cons

Cordless electric chainsaws tend to weigh more than their corded counterparts due to the addition of the battery. The average tool weighs 10 to 15 pounds, in fact. If you get one, you’ll be paying this weight penalty, and you’ll also probably be paying a bit more for the chainsaw itself. Cordless electrics are not as cheap as many corded models.

Furthermore, a cordless model is generally less powerful than its corded equivalent. Even if you opt for one of the most powerful (and priciest) cordless models, its run time is typically limited to 60 minutes or less. Recharge times can be long, although the best cordless electric chainsaws can recharge in as little as 30 minutes. An extra set of batteries could be helpful in this situation, but batteries are expensive.

Many manufacturers now make batteries that fit a range of different tools. If you're thinking of buying a cordless electric chainsaw, you might want to check what other devices you can plug the battery into.

ELECTRIC CHAINSAW SIZES

Chainsaw are generally rated by their bar size (the metal plate the chain runs around). The question is, which size should you buy? We spoke to Luke, BestReviews’ expert landscaping and gardening consultant, for his thoughts on the matter.

The size of chainsaw you need depends on the types of tasks you wish to complete. Luke advised us that any electric chainsaw with a bar under 12 inches would only be suitable for trimming bushes and very small tree limbs. If you’re looking to cut limbs that are several inches in diameter or firewood that won’t need splitting after you cut it, a 14-inch electric chainsaw would be a good bet.

If you want a chainsaw for “general purposes,” a 16-inch model could be suitable. This length is a practical minimum for actual tree felling. Anything larger than 18 inches, Luke said, is almost certainly gas-powered. And truth be told, most homeowners would never need an electric chainsaw with a bar larger than 18 inches.

Luke

Make sure you perform regular maintenance of the saw — clean the chain and sprocket area periodically, and check for wear and tear on the chain, blade and sprocket.

ELECTRIC CHAINSAW FEATURES

With instant starting and no gas or oil to mix, an electric chainsaw is already quite a straightforward tool. But manufacturers of top-quality models offer additional features that can make your life even easier.

Features

Automatic Oiling System

While the maintenance demands of an electric chainsaw are few, it still requires regular oiling. On some models, this is achieved manually by pressing a button. However, an automatic oiling system is far superior and makes for a longer chain life.

You’ll be wearing gloves when you use your chainsaw. For this reason, a model with plenty of room around the handles and triggers is ideal.

Features

Tool-less Chain Tensioner

The chain will also need to be tightened from time to time. Tool-less adjustment is faster and more convenient than completing the task by hand.

Features

Current Limiter

Some electric chainsaws come with current limiters that prevent you from burning out your motor if there’s a risk of overload.

Features

Brushless Motor

This type of motor is very quiet and durable.

Be sure that tension is maintained in your chainsaw. (1) Make sure the chain is cool. (2) Loosen the two guide bar nuts on the machine. (3) Turn the tension screw to either tighten or loosen the chain as needed. (4) Leave a gap of about 1/8th of an inch between the chain and the groove edge.

ELECTRIC CHAINSAW PRICES

With the enormous variety of electric chainsaws available, it's difficult to put machines into accurate price ranges. The following is a rough guide based on the latest research, but it will likely change. This is particularly true for cordless chainsaw prices, as battery technology continues to improve and costs continue to drop.

  • $50 - $70 will buy you a cheap, corded electric chainsaw that can handle modest trimming tasks and occasional limbs a couple of inches diameter.
  • $90 - $120 will get you a good, entry-level, corded all-rounder — a machine that's perfectly adequate for the average small to medium garden.
  • $120 - $200 will cover the cost of some premium cordless products and a wide range of very good corded machines.
  • $250+ will fetch you a top-rated corded chainsaw or one of the most powerful cordless versions. These tools will cope with the needs of just about every homeowner. This price range also covers the realm of high-quality gas chainsaws, so if you've got a lot of regular work to do, we recommend that you think critically about whether a gas chainsaw would be a better option for you.

Cheap electric chainsaws often come with inferior blades. Performance can be drastically improved with a better one.

ELECTRIC CHAINSAW SAFETY

  • Always make sure the chain brake is on when you start your chainsaw.
  • Always wear gloves and a face shield when you use your chainsaw.
  • If you’re using a corded model, be aware of where the cord is at all times. Stop the machine immediately if the cord snags or tangles. You don't want to trip over it or cut it.
  • Make sure that the chain is properly tensioned.
  • Never work with a worn or damaged chain.
  • If your extension cord grows hot, it's not the proper amp rating, and you run the risk of burning out the motor. Consult an expert for the correct fit.
EXPERT TIP

An electric chainsaw with automatic tensioning prevents you from over-tightening. This is a great feature, as it can extend the life of the chain.


Luke  | Landscaping Professional

For many homeowners, an electric chainsaw is the best solution. They're less intimidating than gas models because they're quieter, lighter, and easier to use. They may lack the power of high-end gas models, but unless you're cutting trees or logs regularly, they offer the most sensible and economical solution in most cases. What's more, with such a vast array of electric chainsaws available, there should be one out there that's perfect for you.

If you choose to purchase the GreenWorks or Black & Decker on our matrix, you have the option of buying the unit with or without batteries. We recommend that you opt for the battery. In fact, you may appreciate having a spare battery on hand in case you’re in the middle of a project and run out of juice.

Products We Considered

The finalists in our product matrix, above, underline the main factors in the corded/cordless chainsaws debate.

  • The Greenworks and Black & Decker cordless chainsaws produce good power for their class. Unless you have spare batteries, however, their run-time can be frustrating.
  • You'll quit before the Worxs, Remington, and Makita corded chainsaws will, but there will likely be times when you feel quite annoyed by the cord.
  • All five offer excellent solutions for most homeowners. They're clean, quiet, and easy-to-use. It's simply a question of choosing the most appropriate tool for your needs.
  • Makita
    UC4051A Electric
  • Remington
    RM1425 Limb N Trim
  • Worx
    WG303.1
  • GreenWorks
    Pro GCS80420
  • Black & Decker
    Max Lithium Ion LCS1240
Makita UC4051A

Best Of The Best

We spent considerable time selecting our five finalists, so it's no surprise that picking an overall winner is tough. They all have a lot to offer. However, after much debate, the BestReviews test team chose the Makita UC4051A as the best electric chainsaw available right now.

The fact that it's corded limits its operational range, but it certainly doesn’t limit the length of time it will run. It's built well, enjoys a great reputation for durability, and sports good grips that are comfortable and accommodating for gloved hands.

A 16-inch blade is arguably the optimum size for a tool like this. It's what our landscaping pro Luke thinks is the perfect "general purpose" length. Thanks to Makita’s design, you don’t need tools to adjust the chain. What’s more, oiling is automatic, so you can keep on working without having to worry about it.

No tool is perfect, but our research turned up virtually no negative comments from owners. When the only thing people complain about is the oil filler being a bit awkward, you know you don't have much to worry about!

At a cost of $253, you do pay a premium for the Makita UC4051A. But it's a wise investment. You get a superbly made tool that's easy-to-use, trouble-free, and powerful. We have no hesitation in naming it the Best of the Best electric chainsaw.

The Makita boasts a built-in “current limiter” which prevents the motor from burning out in the event of a power overload. For some owners, this winning feature helps them make their product decision.

Worx WG303

Best Bang For Your Buck

The value you get for your money always plays a big part in our product decisions. Sometimes, it’s difficult to determine which product offers the best value. Not this time, though. The Worx WG303.1 is outstanding. You won't find a better electric chainsaw for the money.

This chainsaw’s specification list rivals that of tools that cost two to three times as much. Its 16-inch blade is long enough to handle all but the biggest of jobs. The 14.5-amp motor delivers the same kind of power as the Makita. It's got both automatic oiling and automatic tensioning.

Customer feedback is equally impressive. One or two complain of mechanical failures, but the overwhelming majority say things like "plenty of power," "excellent for general homeowner use," and "best corded saw money can buy."

So why didn't it win our best electric chainsaw award? It came close. The Makita shades it for build quality, all-round performance, and its stellar reputation. But if you’re carefully watching your dollars and cents, you can't beat the $91 Worx.

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    Amy
    Writer
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    Heather
    VP of Content
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    Devangana
    Web Producer
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    Bob
    Writer
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    Melissa
    Editor

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