3 Types of Chainsaws You Should Know
Whether you are a logger, woodworker, arborist or even a regular DIYer, the chainsaw is one of the most useful tools that you can have in your collection.
But, as useful as these power tools might be, choosing the right one for you can be quite a confusing process if you do not have enough experience with the tool.
Different kinds of chainsaws will have different capabilities, and hence will be suitable for different applications. If you are still wondering where to start your search for the best chainsaw, understanding the different types is an excellent starting point.
There are three main types of chainsaws which are gas-powered, corded electric and the battery powered. However, the manual ones which consist of the chain and handles can also qualify as a chainsaw type.
But, in this piece, we look at the three typical chainsaw types and highlight some of their pros and cons to make the buying decision easier to make.
Table of Contents
3 Types of Chainsaws
1. Gas-Powered Chainsaw
When you think of a chainsaw or hear one cutting wood somewhere, that image that comes to your mind is that of the gas-powered chainsaw.
Gas-powered chainsaws are the oldest and most popular type among the three, and this is thanks to the fact that it is highly efficient and powerful.
As its name suggests, this chainsaw is the type that runs on gasoline/petrol. However, most use a two-stroke engine that runs on a gasoline and oil mixture. The gas is what powers the chainsaw while the oil helps with lubrication of the internal components.
But, despite the massive power that the gas engine delivers and high efficiency, these chainsaws tend to be bulkier and harder to handle than both corded and cordless types.
Also, they are the noisiest and produce lots of vibrations. And the extra power and efficiency also come at a cost as gas-powered chainsaws are often the priciest when compared to the two electric types.
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- Highly powerful. Like most other gas-powered power tools, gas chainsaws tend to be more powerful and efficient than the other two types thanks to the two-stroke engines. The increased power and efficiency means that these chainsaws will cut faster and more smoothly than the electric types.
- Great for heavy-duty tasks. The massive power and faster chain speeds that are characteristic of the gas-powered chainsaws make them great for heavy-duty use. When you want to cut large trees or have a lot of logs to cut, these chainsaws will always be up to the task. Provided the chainsaw has enough fuel and a long enough guide bar length, it will handle almost anything you throw its way.
- Increased mobility. A gas-powered chainsaw might be heavy but it is still one of the most portable types and this explains why it is almost always the only type you will get with loggers felling trees deep into the forest. It does not require any plugging-in or batteries like the electric types, and so provided you have enough gas you can carry and use it anywhere.
- Heavier and noisier. Gas-powered chainsaws can be quite heavy and this is more so when the tank is full of gas. The weight combined with the intense vibrations make these chainsaws harder to handle for inexperienced individuals. Also, just like most other gasoline-powered tools, they can be super loud when cutting trees.
- Pricier. When compared to the corded electric chainsaws, the gas-powered models can be quite expensive and can even cost twice as much.
2. Corded Electric Chainsaw
Corded electric chainsaws can still get the job done and they are self-explanatory because as the name suggests they are the type that will come with a cord that requires plugging into a power outlet.
The presences of a cord on these chainsaws means they are “immobile” as you cannot carry them into the woods unless you also carry a generator with you.
But, the cord is also their greatest advantage. And this is because of the fact that they are always plugged-in means that they get a constant and unlimited supply of power. Hence, you will never have to worry about running out gas of batteries dying out.
When compared to the gas-powered chainsaws, the corded electric ones will also have less power and so their use will be limited to small tasks or those that not require a lot of power.
However, unlike the gas-powered chainsaws, they will not produce any exhaust fumes or make deafening noises.
Their light weight which stems from the lack of a battery means that they can be used even by inexperienced loggers and woodworkers and they will be a great choice for beginners that want something for light tasks.
- Unlimited power supply. The greatest advantage of the corded chainsaws is the unlimited power supply that is not restricted by batteries running out of charge or fuel tanks running out of gas. Once you plug these chainsaws into a power outlet you will get unlimited runtime.
- Relatively lightweight. There are no battery packs or heavy engines on the corded chainsaw and this makes it relatively lighter than both the gas and battery-powered types. The less weight and minimal vibrations make this chainsaw great choice for beginners or inexperienced users.
- Quiet operation and zero emission. Noise is one of the distinctive characteristics of the chainsaw but what you might not know is the loud noise often emanates from the gas-powered types. Corded electric chainsaws run on a more quiet motor that also does not produce any exhaust fumes.
- Limited range. Like any other corded power tool, the corded electric chainsaws will only cut as far as the cord will allow. This restricts its use to the trees close to the power outlet unless you have a generator extension reel to increase its range.
- Higher hazard risk. Corded electric chainsaws are one of the riskiest types to use. And this is mostly due to the presence of the cord which not only exposes the user to the risk of tripping but it can also easily get tangled in heavily wooded areas and undergrowth.
3. Cordless/Battery-Powered Chainsaw
Cordless or the battery-powered chainsaws run on rechargeable batteries instead of gas or direct electricity like the gas-powered and corded electric chainsaws respectively.
These chainsaws will eliminate the need to refuel the tank or have to deal with messy oil and gas mixing. And unlike the corded electric, they still provide mobility.
But, there is a tradeoff for the convenience that these chainsaws provide. Like any other battery-powered power tool the batteries will require regular recharging, and they also deliver shorter runtimes.
Power might also be an issue with these chainsaws as most will provide less than what you get from both gas and corded electric chainsaws.
The reduced power output makes the cordless chainsaw great for lighter tasks such as trimming, pruning and cutting small trees.
It is also worth noting that like the corded electric chainsaws, the cordless models are also easy to start at the push of a button, provide a quiet operation and will also not produce any emissions.
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- Greater mobility. Battery-powered chainsaws offer greater mobility than what you get from the corded models as they do not have a cord. Although they are heavier than the corded electric chainsaws, they are still lighter than the gas types and are easy to carry around and use provided the batteries are charged.
- Easy start. Like the corded electric chainsaws, a simple push of button or switch is all it takes to start the battery-powered chainsaws. You will never have to waste precious times pulling cords several times as you would with an old gas chainsaw.
- Zero emissions and minimal noise. Electric chainsaws like the battery-powered ones do not produce the emissions that are characteristic of even the modern gas chainsaws. Hence, they will have a less adverse impact on the environment and the health of the user.
- Limited operating time. Even the best lithium-ion batteries can only last a few hours at best. And so with the battery-powered chainsaws, you will get limited runtimes as they will only run for as long as the batteries can last. But, it is possible to increase the runtimes by investing in some extra battery packs.
- Less powerful. Cordless chainsaws are the least powerful of the three types, and so they will only be handy for light tasks like pruning and trimming. The slower speeds also mean that they will not be very useful when dealing with larger trees.
For a seasoned logger or woodworker that knows how to handle chainsaws well, the gas-powered models are the best option and this is more so when you want something for heavy duty use.
Both the corded and cordless electric chainsaws will be more appropriate for light and medium tasks, and also for those that are looking for something quieter and with no emissions.
However, the corded types will be most useful around the house where there are power outlets nearby. And the cordless types work best for light tasks like pruning and cutting small trees which makes them best suited for regular homeowners without much to cut.
If you can afford it, having both the gas-powered and one of the electric chainsaw is a great idea as they will work well for different situations.
But, if you are going to buy just one, it is important to first understand the pros and cons of each type as this helps you determine which one suits your needs the best.
The bottom line is that each one of these chainsaws will do their job well provided you buy a good model from a reputable brand. And once you understand your needs you will only need to match them to the appropriate chainsaw.
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