The 10 Best Cordless Chainsaws
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in February of 2017. Whether you're a professional lumberjack looking for a powerful, but eco-friendly, tool to help you fell small trees, or you're a homeowner who just needs to prune a few limbs here and there, our list of the best cordless lithium-ion powered chainsaws is sure to include the right option for you. We considered everything from bar quality to battery life in bringing you this selection. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 09, 2020:
Removed the Worx WG322 in favor of the Echo CCS-58V.
The current energy density of lithium-ion batteries restricts the usefulness of cordless chainsaws. They can't come close to gas powered chainsaws because their batteries would have to put out so much current that the chainsaw would run out of power within a few minutes. So there's a compromise that they have to strike between the amount of current they output and the amount of time they can do that for. With your expectations tempered, you can expect to use models like the Echo CCS-58V and the Makita XCU02PT for cutting off tree limbs, cutting firewood, and occasionally felling trees of no more than 10 inches in diameter. No cordless chainsaw will replace a proper gas chainsaw and you won't be cutting through dense woods but they have their uses - heavy gas chainsaws with long bars are overkill for light yard work.
We've included both tool-less tensioning/clamping assemblies and standard tensioning/clamping assemblies as positive attributes. Being able to clamp your bar or tension your chain without an extra tool is convenient and it is a positive. But I prefer the standard two-bolt clamping system found on the Echo over the ratcheting systems used in many other models because it is a much more rigid connection and you don't have to worry about plastic parts wearing out. Another weak point in the ratcheting system is that naturally, since it is a single ratchet, you can only torque on a single point. So the assembly has one bolt and an adjacent pin keeping the bar in place instead of two solid clamping points. The ratchet is more convenient but only slightly (how much time and energy does it take to tighten or loosen two nuts?). In my opinion, the convenience is not worth the sacrifice in quality.
June 26, 2019:
When you need to cut down a small tree, hack through some branches, or slice up a log, there are no more efficient tools than chainsaws. They can also be very dangerous though, so it is vital that you operate them with the utmost care. If you have never used a chainsaw before and are worried about operating one, you best option may be the Black + Decker Alligator Lopper. Though it can only be used on branches four inches or less in diameter, all of the cutting happens within the two jaws, making it safer to operate than traditional chainsaws. Another smart choice would be to go with a model that has a very small bar, like the Worx WG322 or 10-inch Makita XCU02PT. These give you more flexibility in application than the Black + Decker Alligator Lopper, but their small size still make them easy to control.
For those who need to cut through thick branches or logs, a model with a 16-inch bar is the best bet, such as the DeWalt DCCS690M1, Sun Joe ION16CS 40V, Greenworks 20322, Oregon CS300-A6, and Wen 40417. Remember though, that a 16-inch bar is designed to be used on trunks 14 inches or less in diameter. The Wen 40417 probably represents the best value out of all the models on our list, but is best suited to periodic home use, while the DeWalt DCCS690M1 can handle daily, high-volume use on the densest of woods.
Stihl MSA 160 C-BQ Anybody who knows anything about chainsaws knows that Stihl is one of the top names in the game, so it should be no surprise that this model can handle practically anything you through at it. It is powered by a commercial-grade, high-torque brushless motor; gets about 40 minutes of cutting time per charge; and is extremely well-made. stihlusa.com
The Right Chainsaw For The Job
Larger, high-quality cordless chainsaws boast surprising power for their size, matching all but the most powerful electric models, and even some smaller gas-powered units.
Chainsaws come in many shapes and sizes, and determining which is right for you will save you a lot of grief (and money) in the long run.
If you plan to cut many large trees over an extended period, a gas-powered chainsaw is the only choice for you. They are the heaviest and loudest of the chainsaws, and they do require gas and an involved maintenance routine, but the power they offer is simply not available in electric and cordless chainsaws. Additionally, owners may take them anywhere without worrying over the availability of an electrical outlet.
If you plan to cut branches, brush, or even small trees on a limited basis near your home, an electric chainsaw is likely the best choice. However, consider that they are lighter and less powerful than gas chainsaws, and are also limited in range by the length of an extension cord.
Pairing the range of a gas-powered model with the maneuverability of an electric, the cordless chainsaw is ideal for cutting and shaping brush and small trees away from home. Instead of relying on an outlet or combustible fuel, cordless chainsaws are powered by a rechargeable battery. Larger, high-quality cordless chainsaws boast surprising power for their size, matching all but the most powerful electric models, and even some smaller gas-powered units.
Electric and cordless chainsaws aren't available in as many sizes as their gas-powered counterparts (particularly at the bigger, industrial end of the spectrum), but they are both much easier to start and maintain.
Important Chainsaw Safety Considerations
Operating a cordless chainsaw is dangerous, but following basic chainsaw safety practices greatly reduces the possibility of injury.
Before using a chainsaw, remember to wear protective eye- and head-wear and to avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes that could be pulled into the chain.
Electric and cordless chainsaws eliminate the safety concerns related to gasoline, but in every other way they are just as deadly as gas-powered models. With that in mind, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration advises always operating the chainsaw with secure footing. It is also advisable to avoid holding the saw overhead, or in other awkward positions. Other important safety considerations will be included in the literature that accompanies your saw.
Chains are available in numerous sizes, and it is important to make certain the replacement chains you purchase are suitable for your saw.
Similar in construction to the riveted metal of a bicycle chain, modern chainsaw chains feature sharp cutting teeth made of chromium-plated steel. Chains are available in numerous sizes, and it is important to make certain the replacement chains you purchase are suitable for your saw.
Each tooth on a chain includes a "raker" which limits how deep it can cut. Rakers are critical to safe chainsaw operation. If they are not properly set, they can cause the saw to kick back or vibrate excessively, making it unsafe to use.
A number of features have been added to modern chainsaws, making them far more reliable and safe than early models. Among those safety features is the chain catcher, which prevents a broken chain from being thrown back toward the user. While chain catchers are effective, it is still imperative that you replace chains before they become worn out.
Another safety mechanism is the engine lock-out switch. Located above the engine throttle trigger, atop the chainsaw handle, the lock-out switch must be depressed before the trigger will activate the chain. This feature prevents the accidental triggering of the chain by a branch or other foreign object. It also means that should the chainsaw fall from the operator's hand, the chain will stop spinning almost immediately.
The anti-vibration system is perhaps the least appreciated of the contemporary chainsaw safety features. Before its development, long-term use of a chainsaw would often cause hand-arm vibration syndrome, a potentially permanent condition involving damage to blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and joints in the hand, wrist, and arm.
Today, chainsaws are divided into two parts to reduce vibration, one of which includes the cutter bar and the engine, and the other of which houses the handles and controls. These two parts are joined together by a spring-cushioned suspension that greatly reduces vibration.
A Brief History Of The Cordless Chainsaw
The earliest chainsaws were used for a grisly purpose: the cutting of human bone.
Called an osteotome, this primitive, hand-powered chainsaw was made around 1830 by German orthopedist Bernard Heine. For decades, these small saws saw widespread use in the surgeries of the 19th century.
Descended from electric chainsaws, cordless chainsaws grew increasingly affordable as battery capacity and miniaturization improved.
It wasn't until 1905 that an "endless chain saw" was patented for cutting down massive California redwoods, and not until the late 1920s that the first gasoline-powered chainsaw went into production.
These chainsaws were cumbersome, a far cry from the ergonomic and portable chainsaws on the market today. In the 1940s, chainsaws required wheels for movement and at least two people to operate. Advances in aluminum and engine design during and after World War II finally made manufacturing a single-person chainsaw feasible.
Today, chainsaws have almost completely replaced the man-powered saws that preceded them. They are employed by lumberjacks, gardeners, and even military engineers and firefighters. Cordless chainsaws are particularly useful to gardeners who manage expansive plots. Descended from electric chainsaws, cordless chainsaws grew increasingly affordable as battery capacity and miniaturization improved.
Cordless chainsaws can match many electric chainsaws for power, and are available in similarly compact form factors. While they do require recharging, high-capacity cordless chainsaws now offer more than enough power for a full day of work in most applications.