Best Chainsaw for Homeowners 2018 | Buying Guide

Best Chainsaw for Homeowners 2018 | Buying Guide

To us homeowners, a chainsaw is regarded as one of those powerful tools that we cant live without. In the case you are looking to buy a chainsaw, you

Last updated on May 2nd, 2018 at 01:21 pm

To us homeowners, a chainsaw is regarded as one of those powerful tools that we cant live without. In the case you are looking to buy a chainsaw, you should ask the right questions so that you can make an informed decision.

Why would you need a chainsaw in the first place? How do chainsaws work? What are they good for? How to stay safe when using a chainsaw? As a homeowner with wife, kids and a mini-forest backyard, I have put together this chainsaw buying guide to lead you through the thinking process to buy the best chainsaw for your needs. The main chainsaw types are gas, corded electric and cordless / battery powered electric.

 

Gas Powered Chainsaws

Gas chainsaws are popular with both occasional and professional chainsaw users. As the name implies, gas-powered chainsaws run on gasoline (petrol). They have two cycle or two stroke engines that run efficiently on a mixture of oil and gasoline. The oil greases up the internal part of the engine and averts excessive damage or wear while the gasoline is needed for combustion.

Chainsaw

Model Type

Price

  Husqvarna 450 Gas / 50cc

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$179.95

  Husqvarna 240 2 HP Gas / 38cc

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$179.95

  Tanaka TCS40EA18 Gas / 40cc

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$411.98

  Echo CS-400 Gas / 40cc

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$348.93

The 2-stroke engines provide the chainsaw with a higher power to weight ratio and therefore, the gas-powered chainsaw is very effective and powerful, cutting woods quicker than all other chainsaw types. Be that as it may, gas-powered chainsaws are likewise heavier, produce more vibration and noise and furthermore require regular servicing and refueling when contrasted with other chainsaw types. Gas-Powered chainsaws are costlier when compared to corded electric chainsaws and could be twice as expensive sometimes.

Pros

  • Highly mobile. One can bring the saw almost anywhere
  • More capable of handling heavy duty tasks
  • Power. More torque and power than any other type
  • Professional. Most men in the trade use primarily gas powered chainsaws

Cons

  • High maintenance. Regular looking after is required
  • Pollution. Two stroke engines are imperfect combustion engines
  • Noise levels can reach harmful decibel levels
  • Weight

Corded Electric Chainsaws

 

Electric chainsaws have a plug-in power cord and run on electricity. They don’t have gas engines that require fuel to run. One thing about the corded electric chainsaws is that they are pretty immobile do to the fact that they have to be plugged-in to a power source. Although they can be easy to use in the event that there is a portable generator that could be mounted on a vehicle and then connected to the chainsaw via an extension cord.

 

In the absence of a portable generator, they can’t be used for big tasks like felling trees in the forest. Contrasted with gas-powered chainsaws, corded electric chainsaws have limited use and considerably less power.  They are more suitable for small tasks don’t need much power. In any case, they are better performing than battery-powered chainsaws and can also be utilized for sawing small trees, limbs, and thick branches.

Unlike the gas-powered models, corded chain saws don’t produce deafening noise or as much vibrations, and due to their lighter weight, they can even be used by a less experienced person. Electric chainsaws are also good choice for a regular homeowner looking for something to do light chores with. Be that as it may, you will most likely need heavier, better quality extension cords to provide the amperage needed.

Their ultimate disadvantage is that they have to be plugged-in to a power source or utilized together with a portable generator and with that they pose a risk when used in the forest, as the cord could get tangled in undergrowth and intensely lush zones. This makes them badly designed for use in the forested areas. They are significantly less expensive than gas-powered and battery-powered chainsaws, however are more expensive than pole saws or manual chainsaws.

Pros

  • Quiet. Tend to be much less noisy than gas powered saws
  • Light
  • Low maintenance
  • Easy to start
  • Better for health and environment due to no fumes emitted
  • No need to mess around and mix fuel with oil

Cons

  • Unsuitable for heavy duty tasks
  • Mobility limited by power cords and extensions
  • Safety concerns in wet conditions
  • Usually equipped with short to medium bars (up to 20 inches)
  • Slower chain speed

Battery Powered Chainsaws

These chainsaws are also called cordless chainsaws. They use rechargeable batteries rather than fuel or mains electricity. The more modern batteries are lithium-ion that last longer and easier to charge.

While being cordless and electric disposes of the requirement for regular engine servicing and fueling as with gas-powered chainsaws, it additionally implies that the batteries must always be charged in order to keep the unit running.

 

Most times, this confines the amount of work that can be done in a single session. Cordless chainsaws are made for lighter tasks that may incorporate trimming, pruning, and felling small trees.

They are less powerful compared to corded electric chainsaws but still perfect for light tasks that don’t take much time. Despite the fact that they create less power when contrasted with both gas-powered and corded chainsaws, battery-powered chainsaws are really the most expensive (price-to-performance wise) chainsaw models as far as the industry is concerned.

Pros

  • Same benefits as corded electric chainsaws
  • With increased mobility

Cons

  • Unsuitable for medium and heavy duty tasks
  • High price
  • Limited run time due to battery
  • Less power compared to corded electric and gas chainsaws
  • Slow chain speed

Pole Saws

A pole saw is simply a small saw fixed to an extension pole and essentially used to aid your reach cutting and trimming or eliminating small tree branches. Though this saw can’t be termed as a chainsaw, they are connected in a few aspects.. Pole saws can also be gasoline-powered, corded or battery powered.

Just like typical chainsaws, gasoline-powered pole saws are more powerful than their electric counterparts and subsequently used to prune thicker trees and branches. They likewise produce a lot of noise and vibration.

Electric pole saws have reduced power capacity and are utilized for lighter tasks. Be that as it may, corded pole saws are more powerful than the battery-powered counterparts. Battery-powered pole saws are the most costly in this classification followed by gasoline-powered models and then corded pole saws are considered as cheapest.

Pros

  • Extended reach
  • Safer to work on dense tree crowns and with high branches

Cons

  • Less power

Electric Loppers

We all know standard loppers with the handles and two jaws that we use to trim small branches. Imagine the same setup but with the power of a chain saw. There you go, this is the weirdest item in our guide, the electric loppers, a highly specialized cutting tool. Electric loppers are heavy duty tools with cutting bars and chains. They can deliver fast cutting of small to medium branches that would be too big for manual scissors. These loppers are also known as jawsaws, describing their look rather well, with model names like “Alligator” and such.

Pros

  • Safer alternative of a chainsaw for light cutting
  • May cut branches up to 4 inches
  • Cheaper than most chainsaws
  • Low maintenance

Cons

  • Being corded mobility is limited
  • Highly specialized tool

Chainsaws for Milling

Have you considered milling with a chainsaw? The good thing is there is no need for a specialized chainsaw to mill logs into lumber that you can use for fences, furniture, shacks or even houses.

Certainly, milling is considered a heavy duty task and as such, it is important to pick the right chainsaw for the job. A battery powered or light duty gas chainsaw that you would normally use for firewood is not going to cut it. Better to go for a high performance, durable and robust chainsaw with a long bar.

A sole chainsaw of course will not be suitable for cutting usable lumber, the thing you need is called a chainsaw mill or Alaskan mill. These mills are a type of sawmill that usually consists of a pair of rails or guides that are attached to the chainsaw, with the intention to be adjustable for precise lumber cutting to the required thickness and size.

Manual Chainsaws

Manual chainsaws neither require electricity nor fuel to run. You may not find them readily available with the chainsaws suppliers and majority of users make these manual chainsaws utilizing a saw chain and various easily accessible materials. Basically it’s more or less like using a chainsaw’s chain to cut wood; replacing the gasoline engine with your arms.

Some people adopt this method in cutting or trimming firewood in the event that they can’t bear the cost of or for any reason, would prefer not to purchase a normal chainsaw. They don’t produce exhaust or noise, however they can be tedious because they involve great efforts. As expected, manual chainsaws have a lesser power capacity compared to other types of chainsaw.

Notwithstanding, they are exceedingly portable and much faster than some other hand held saws. They are cheap since you are only buying the saw chain and a couple of accessories which may incorporate; a needle, nylon webbing, a hack saw a waxed linen thread or nylon string and matches in order for it to be comfortable for use.

Commercially available manual or pocket chain saws can be found for around $20 or so that also include handles and a pouch.

Pros

  • Extremely cheap
  • No maintenance
  • Easy to handle

Cons

  • Can be tedious to operate
  • Hard work to cut through thick branches

 

*Features to Look for

When shopping for chainsaws, you will come across a huge list of features that manufacturers use, often with their own terms, but essentially covering the same common feature under a different name. Hope you can use our list of definitions as a base for your further research.

We tried to collect the most common features here that make using a chainsaw easier, more comfortable and safer.

Kickback reducing systems

The most effective action to prevent kickback is training. However, as a homeowner, especially if you are not very experienced, there are features and other solutions to look for to reduce risk of injury, in case eventually kickback occurs.

Manufacturers are trying to design chains that are less likely to cause kickbacks with protective links between the cutting teeth, while a well thought trough bar design with special nose is also a risk reducing factor.

Some companies utilize kickback guards and automatic chain brakes in the event of a kickback, limiting the damage that a launching bar can deliver.

Anti-vibration system

Vibration in chainsaw is known to be a serious issue that will affect you when using your machine for a long period of time. Vibration is most evident in gas chainsaws and increases in line with the engine size.  Anti-vibration systems help in reducing the burden and thus makes sawing more comfortable.

An anti-vibration handle is essentially an isolator, that dampens vibration and therefore reduces fatigue and also extends the lifetime of the chainsaw.

Chain brake

What chain brake does is that it stops the chainsaw if there is a sudden movement, for example, kickback, lessening the risk of injury. The chain brake can be manually controlled by pushing the top hand guard forward, and pulled back to release the break.

Automatic oiling

All kinds of chainsaws, even electric ones require proper chain lubrication. Some chainsaws have manual oiling features where the operator has to press a button from time to time.

Automatic oiling systems lubricate the chain as it is being used, no need for manual activation. These systems make sure that the chain is lubricated at all times without wasting oil, offering safer operation, more efficient cutting and extended lifetime for the chain.

Safety throttle or trigger

Most models accompany a safety trigger. This implies that when you turn on the chainsaw, the trigger must be grasped constantly. In the event that anything makes you release the trigger, the chainsaw automatically turns off and the chain will not be driven.

Chain catcher 

In the event that the chain should break or get derailed, a catcher will guard you by ensuring it doesn’t fly loose and cause any injury.

Right-hand guard

All chainsaws are designed for right-handed use, with right hand on the rear handle, and the left hand on the top handle. The right hand guard is a common feature that protects the user’s hand and fingers, should the chain break or derail.

Blade cover

It’s vital to always cover the blade when the chainsaw is not being used. This will avert any accidental wear, and in addition any injury.

Spring-assisted starting

Using the power of a metal string, this feature reduces the pulling force needed to start a gas chainsaw. Electric chain saws don’t need this as they simply start by a press of a button.

Chain adjustment without a tool

Chainsaw chains stretch and get loose during their lifetime. It should be checked and tightened often. Traditionally, the chain had to be adjusted by taking off the side panel and loosen the guide bar side panel nuts, unlocking the chain break, adjusting the tensioning screw, then do all the things back. A cumbersome maintenance chore that can be saved by choosing a chainsaw with an automatic, tool-free chain tension system.

Heated handle

A self-explanatory comfort feature if the chainsaw is used frequently outside in cold conditions. There are claims that electrically headed handles can help prevent hand-arm vibration syndrome (or white finger) caused by extended exposure to vibration (source).

Brushless motor

A type of electric motor that gained huge popularity due to being quiet, durable and offering high performance. Most modern electric chainsaws are equipped with these modern motors.

Current limiter or Circuit breaker

In case there is an overload in current, this feature can prevent the motor from burning out.

Catalytic converters and advanced air cleaning

Air cleaning features extend the life of the air filter and engine by removing large pieces of debris before they reach the inner parts, as well as converters control emissions, helping the reduction of poisonous fumes and comply with environmental regulations.

Bumper spikes

These are attachments to the front of the chainsaw, that help stabilizing the saw on wood while bucking to prevent kickback.

Maintenance

Chainsaws are crucial tools. Be that as it may, nothing is more annoying than an improperly adjusted carburetor or a dull chain. Chainsaws are known to be versatile and they can also last for many years if they’re properly maintained. In our ultimate chainsaw buying guide it is vital to mention the most important aspects of chainsaw maintenance.

Chainsaw sharpening

A dull chainsaw blade can cause burning and buckling while sawing through wood, which is clearly a slow and dangerous way to cut. The only solution here is to get the chain sharpened or replaced. So how would you do the former? An electric sharpener will make the whole sharpening process easier and more comfortable, similarly, manual sharpening with a round chainsaw file is also an option.

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