Finding the best electric chainsaw is not quite as complicated as buying a gas chainsaw because electric chainsaws don’t have the diversity and size variations that you’ll find in a gas chainsaw. An electric chainsaw refers to a ‘corded chainsaw.’ — which means you’ll need an extension cord.
I know that many people think that the term ‘electric’ includes ‘battery-powered’ chainsaws, but typically, it does not. Either way, if you were searching for reviews on battery chainsaws then read our accompanying guide on battery chainsaws.
Before we get into the specific models let’s talk about electric chainsaws in general. They have their unique strengths and weaknesses and it’s good for you understand what they are before making a purchase.
For the majority of homeowners an electric chainsaw (or battery) is perfect. They provide enough power to handle light-to medium duty cutting projects around the yard. They’re ideal for pruning, trimming, felling small trees and even cutting up logs for firewood. But there are limits to electric power which we’ll get to later.
An electric chainsaw is quiet and won’t annoy you when you use it, not to mention that it won’t wake up your neighbors if you decide to get some work done early in the morning. I can’t say the same thing about a gas chainsaw. If you live close to other people and you like to cut at all times of the day then an electric chainsaw will foster peace in your neighborhood.
Also, an electric chainsaw has no fumes or exhaust that you have to inhale as you work. An electric chainsaw requires zero maintenance. A gas chainsaw requires far more upkeep and tinkering than an electric chainsaw. I know some people enjoy playing with their chainsaw and other tools but most homeowners just want to turn it on and get to work.
The more I think about it, the more I realize how practical and convenient an electric chainsaw is. We’re still not done with the advantages. Typically, electric chainsaws are lightweight and easy to carry around. On the other hand, gas engines are much heavier, plus you have fuel in the tank. An electric model is the way to go for seniors or for people who don’t have a lot of strength or experience with chainsaws.
Lastly, electric chainsaws are inexpensive to buy and cheap to operate. They’re extremely affordable so anybody can own one.
From my experience, the majority of homeowners want a small electric chainsaw that they can simply turn on and get to work with.
It’s not all good news. There are a few disadvantages with electric chainsaws — not many, but you need to understand the drawbacks as well.
The biggest disadvantage, in my opinion, is that you need an extension cord which means you need to constantly manage and fiddle with the cord as you work. You’ll get used to the cord but it’s something you have to continually deal with. For the ultimate freedom as far as chainsaws go I recommend a high quality battery chainsaw like the GreenWorks 80V. No cords or fuel to worry about it.
Also, an extension cord means that you have to be near an electrical outlet at all times. Typically you need to be within 100 feet of an outlet. You’d never go out into the forest to cut firewood with an electric chainsaw. Well, you could if you brought a portable generator, and many people actually do that but a gas chainsaw would be the smarter choice.
An electric chainsaw is limited in power because a home electrical socket can only accommodate 15-Amps. This is a significant barrier and limitation for homeowners who need a fast chainsaw capable of cutting large trees. This is the reason why most electric chainsaws are best suited for light-duty cutting. Although, there are some highly-efficient electric chainsaws capable of matching a small gas chainsaw in terms of raw cutting power, like the exceptional Makita UC4051A (read our in-depth review).
Overall, Makita electric chainsaws are the best electric models as they are perfectly tuned for efficiency, and they are powered by Makita’s own proprietary motors which are optimized at turning 15-Amps into the highest amount of cutting power.
As you can see, an electric chainsaw has a few limitations but every power source has disadvantages. Gas chainsaws require high maintenance, they emit stinking fumes, they’re loud, heavy and expensive. Even battery chainsaws have disadvantages. The main drawback is that battery life is limited and backup batteries are expensive. Also, battery power is limited as well but the GreenWorks 80V chainsaw has the equivalent power of a 45cc gas chainsaw.
Buying the right extension cord is absolutely essential if you want to get the maximum power from your electric chainsaw. Not all extension cords are created equal. In fact, you have to match the extension cord according to the amperage (amp) rating of your chainsaw.