When it comes to chainsaws, you have two options. You can either buy a gas chainsaw or you can buy an electric chainsaw. When it comes to electric, you also have two options. You can get an electric chainsaw with a cord that you plug into a socket, or you can get a cordless chainsaw that runs on batteries.
However, it is getting harder and harder to find a chainsaw with a cord. Almost every tool is now cordless and battery-powered.
Each type of chainsaw comes with a list of advantages and disadvantages. For example, gas chainsaws are not that clean for the environment. They burn fuel and they use oil. At the same time, gas chainsaws are necessary for huge lumber jobs, like cutting trees that have at least a 20-inch diameter. There is no way you can do that kind of cutting with an electric chainsaw.
And so, I will breakdown the positives and negatives of each type of chainsaw so that you can decide for yourself which one is the best for you.
Price is usually the most important factor of any shopping trip, whether you are shopping for a chainsaw or a new pair of socks. The difference between electric chainsaws and gas chainsaws when it comes to price is dramatic. Electric units are much cheaper. I am talking anywhere from $100 to a maximum of $400.
However, gas chainsaws start at $100 and can go upwards of $500 – even more for heavy-duty industrial types. Gas chainsaws are without a doubt more expensive than their cordless friends.
What size of chainsaw do you need? What kind of tasks are you looking to perform? Electric chainsaws come in a variety of sizes from between 10” and 16”. These are the most common sizes, meaning that the bar and chain are both between 10” and 16”.
With gas chainsaws, you can typically find them anywhere from 12” to 24”. These are the most common sizes. Gas-fueled saws are better utilized with larger bars and chains. Between 18” and 24” is where gas chainsaws become necessary. You simply can’t get the kind of power need to spin a 24” chain with a battery.
What types of jobs are better for electric chainsaws? And which jobs are better for gas chainsaws? Any activity on your property that involves pruning, yard maintenance, light timber cutting, firewood cutting, or the removal of small trees can all be done with a small cordless chainsaw without problems. These are all simple tasks that a simple battery-powered tool can take care of.
Any job that involves cutting through a piece of wood with a total diameter larger than 18 inches should be done with a gas chainsaw. Gas chainsaws are much better at big jobs. They have more power and they have more torque. If you have a big tree on your property and you want it gone, I recommend a gas chainsaw.
When it comes to a large variety of jobs where you may be cutting big pieces of timber, small branches, and climbing into a tree to groom the canopy, a lightweight chainsaw is going to be better. Even if you had to choose between an 18” gas chainsaw and an 18” electric chainsaw, I would recommend whichever one is lighter and easier to handle.
It just so happens these are often cordless electric units. It should be no surprise that gas chainsaws are heavy and cumbersome. Even if the chainsaw is considered lightweight, it is still probably heavier than a similar electric chainsaw.
We have already determined that gas chainsaws have more power than electric chainsaws, while electric chainsaws are lighter and easier to handle. But which one is more convenient to use? And for this, I must give another point to electric.
Any machine that doesn’t require the use of oil or gasoline is going to be easier to maintain. Electric chainsaws don’t have a starter, they don’t have a carburetor, they don’t have a 2-stroke engine, and they don’t use fuel. There is so much less to maintain, which makes these machines easier to manage and more convenient to use.
For an electric cordless chainsaw, simply slide the battery pack into place and pull the trigger. There is no more work than that. Most of these electric units come with standard safety features, like protection against kickback and durable handguards, and so there is really nothing to inconvenience the operator.
Of course, the only inconvenience with the cordless chainsaw is running out of battery power. But in this case, hopefully, you have a spare battery handy to get you through the rest of the job.
One final convenience with an electric chainsaw is that there are no toxic emissions pumped into the atmosphere. This is convenient for your conscience, as you will know that you are not polluting the air with exhaust fumes. Plus, without a big noisy engine, there is no annoying noise to disturb you or your neighbors.
Electric vs Gas Chainsaw: Final Thoughts
To recap, an electric chainsaw is cheaper, more convenient, lighter, easier to handle, better for the environment, and more reliable for small jobs. On the other hand, gas chainsaws are more powerful, they can take on bigger jobs, and they tend to last longer down the road because of their mechanical parts.
Could I recommend using a gas chainsaw over an electric chainsaw? Not entirely. This battle does not have a winner. Each type of chainsaw is designed for a unique purpose. A small electric chainsaw with a 10” bar and chain is made for cutting small limbs and firewood. A huge gas chainsaw that spits black fumes into the sky and has a 28” bar and chain is designed for cutting down big trees and milling.
As you can tell, there is no better or worse option. Each type serves a purpose. What I can say is that in smaller models up to about 16” or 18”, I would choose an electric chainsaw over a gas chainsaw. They are simply more convenient and less money. They are the greener option, the quieter option, and they are better for people who are new to using power tools.