The Best Cordless Chainsaw – 2017
If you need to cut off fall foliage and make sure that your trees are in perfect health, perhaps you should invest in a chainsaw. The latest cordless chainsaws are far more capable and powerful than those available just a few years ago – in some cases, they are comparable to gasoline saws.
Black + Decker LCS1020 - Our Choice
For 2017, we have a new choice – the Black + Decker LCS1020 is a thoroughly-updated replacement for our previous pick, the LCS120. We believe this revised chainsaw justifies it’s no.1 pick, and customers seem to agree – at the time of writing (September 2017) it’s the no.1 selling cordless chainsaw on Amazon.com
While it’s not the most powerful cordless chainsaw, and doesn’t have the longest blade available, it’s very competitively priced, not too heavy, and capable of doing everything the average customer is likely to need.
The Best Cordless Chainsaw In 2017 - Comparison
Black + Decker
Black + Decker
Cordless Chainsaws - Advantages
Cordless chainsaws have most of the same advantages as corded electric chainsaws - lighter weight, and significantly quieter than gas chainsaws.
There is less maintenance required than a gasoline chainsaw demands. Also, as there are fewer moving parts, there is less to go wrong!
Recent advances in battery technology have made some cordless chainsaws as powerful as corded electric models, and in many cases they can substitute for some of the smaller gas chainsaws.
The main advantage over a corded electric chainsaw is the lack of a power cord - where you're confined to within 100' of a power outlet with a corded saw, if you choose a cordless model you can use the tool anywhere.
No cord getting in the way means no trip hazard, and no chance of it becoming entangled in the mechanism of the chainsaw.
Storing the saw for the winter months is also less of an issue than with a gas device - there's no gasoline tank to empty, and no fuel stabilisers to worry about.
Starting a cordless chainsaw is easy - just pull the lever or trigger and you're away - no pulling the starting cord of a reluctant gasoline engine!
Cordless Chainsaws - Disadvantages
Cordless saws do suffer from limited run time between charges, something that doesn't affect corded electric chainsaw. Gas chainsaws also have limited run time, however it take a few moments to refill a gas tank, compared to 30 minutes to several hours for a recharge, depending on your cordless model & whether you have multiple batteries.
You do have to think about storing, charging and replacing Lithium-Ion batteries after a couple of years (or worse, having to replace a perfectly good tool because the manufacturer has changed the battery style and no longer supports your model!). Replacement batteries can be expensive, and it's a good idea to check the replacement cost before buying your chainsaw.
The other disadvantage of an electric chainsaw (both cordless & corded) is the lack of ultimate power & cutting ability compared to gas versions. If you have a large area to mow, or if your grass gets particularly long or thick, you should consider a gas chainsaw.
How we chose a winner
To figure out what matters in a cordless chainsaw, we contacted several sources in the industry. This is what they look for:
-Reliability: As long as you buy an established brand, reliability shouldn’t be a problem. A little care and maintenance goes a long way.
-Comfort: The chainsaw should be comfortable to hold and use. The handle size and placement will affect the balance of the chainsaw. You’ll most likely be using your saw for long periods, so any initial slight discomfort will become magnified.
-Weight: You should aim to buy the lightest chainsaw that still meets your requirements.
-Control: If you’ve never used a chainsaw before, you may be better with a smaller, less powerful saw, rather than a larger, more powerful device which will make you nervous. Remember these are dangerous machines!
-Safety features: Most modern chainsaws will have chain brakes and an anti-kickback device. The chain brake stops the chain almost instantly when you release the power switch. The anti-kickback device stops the chainsaw from launching upwards and back towards you if the end of the chain makes contact with the wood being cut.
This guide at backwoodshome.com, while older and focused on gas chainsaws, goes into more detail.
With our experts’ selection criteria in mind, we searched through chainsaw reviews on websites such as Amazon, Consumer Reports, Lowes and Home Depot, to see how users liked different makes and models.
#1 - Black + Decker LCS1020 - Our Choice
The Black + Decker LCS1020 is, overall, the best cordless chainsaw we have seen on the market. We believe it has everything most people will ever need in a chainsaw, at a reasonable price.
Our previous choice was the Black and Decker LCS120. This was similar to the new model, and may still be available from some outlets, however the new model has been thoroughly updated and addresses some weaknesses of the earlier chainsaw.
The LCS1020 has a larger 10" bar than the 8" of the older LCS120. This lets you cut more wood with less effort, and in our opinion is the optimum size for most domestic users.
The latest model also comes with an upgraded battery, with 33% more capacity than the earlier model (20Ah vs 15Ah).
Black+Decker advertises this model has "an improved auto oiling system" - this is not strictly correct. Although the chain oiling system is an improvement over the LCS120 (which didn't have an oiling system at all, you simply squirted oil from the container on to the chain!), the LCS1020 requires you to squeeze a primer bulb at regular intervals to oil the chain. Some users find this feature annoying, and report that it's easy to forget to use it. If you need a chainsaw with a true self-oiling chain, you should look at the LCS1240, or a model from another manufacturer.
This chainsaw comes with a 2-year warranty from Black+Decker.
Apart from the pretend self-oiling chain mentioned above, the main issues with this chainsaw concern it's size and power. While the compact size and light weight make it easy to use, especially for owners with less physical strength than the average lumberjack, ultimately the size and power prevent this chainsaw from tackling bigger jobs, or cutting for an extended duration. If this is important to you, you should consider a larger more powerful chainsaw.
Overall, users are very happy with this chainsaw, commenting on it's flexibility, durability, and the ease with which it can cut through surprisingly thick branches & trunks.
As mentioned above, at the time of writing (September 2017), this is the biggest-selling cordless chainsaw on Amazon.com
- 20V MAX lithium battery for long run-time and long life- stays charged up to 5x longer
- 10" premium Oregon low kickback bar & chain
- Tool-free blade tension system for quick adjustments
#2 - GreenWorks 20312
The GreenWorks 20312 is a heavy duty worker as well as looking good. The cutting efficiency is very high (comparable to gas based models) and vibrations are reduced by as much as 70%.
Ultimately this is a much less physical chainsaw to use than a comparable gasoline model.
It comes with a 40V 4-Amp GMAX battery and charger, which are compatible with other GreenWorks GMAX tools.
The 16" bar and 40V 4 amp-hour battery make this a more powerful chainsaw than our first choice. This extra performance comes at a cost - not just in dollars (usually over double the price of our first choice), but also in weight - at 10.3lb this chainsaw is around 50% heavier than the LCS1020.
Safety features include a chain brake and low kickback chain.
The 201312 also includes a fully-automatic chain oiling sytstem - just top up the reservoir with chain oil & the tool will do the rest. (GreenWorks advise against storing the chainsaw with oil in the reservoir; some users have reported their tools leaking oil if this advice is ignored).
GreenWorks provide a 4-year warranty on the tool, 10 years on the motor, and 2 year on the battery.
- Premium Power of DigiPro brushless motor technology cuts up to 100 cuts on a single charge. Includes 4AH Battery and Charger
- Compatible with GreenWorks G-MAX 40V Li-Ion System offering a range of tools to choose from
- Brushless motor delivers up to 30% more torque for the greatest cutting performance
#3 - Black + Decker LCS1240
The larger, more powerful big brother to our no.1 pick, the Black+Decker LCS1240 can do more work with less effort than small chainsaws, with it's 12" bar and 40V motor.
The battery is part of the 40V MAX system, and is compatible with many other Black+Decker power tools. Like most modern cordless tools, it can be bought with a battery and charger, or as a bare tool - this may be a deciding factor for you, if you already own other 40V MAX tools.
This chainsaw has most of the same features as it's 10", 20V sibling, with the exception of the chain oiling system, which is fully automatic in this model.
Black+Decker provide the same 2-year warranty with this model.
- 40V MAX Lithium Ion Battery for longer runtime and overall life
- 12" Oregon low-kickback bar and chain
- Automatic oiling system
#4 - GreenWorks 20262
The GreenWorks 20262 is smaller and lighter (at 9.5lb) than our no.2 pick. It is usually quite a bit cheaper, and may be the best compromise between cost and performance, if you need a slightly more powerful chainsaw than our no.1 pick, or if you already own other GreenWorks 40V G-Max tools, and would like to use the same batteries and charger.
Users report being pleasantly surprised, both with how close to some gas chainsaws its cutting performance is, and with how long the battery charge lasts, and how long the chain stays sharp.
The 20262 comes with a less impressive warranty than the 20312 (though still impressive compared to its competitors) - the same 4 years on the tool, but only 1 year for the battery.
- High Performance G-MAX 40V Lithium-Ion Battery delivers fade-free power with no memory loss after charging
- Robust 12-inch steel chain and bar with tool-less chain tensioning offers ease of use while delivering the highest cutting performance
- 3/8-inch chain pitch delivers the right amount of capabilities to get those limbs trimmed and cut with minimal kickback
#5 - Makita XCU02PTX1
Although the Makita XCU02PTX1's 36 Volts (dual 18V batteries) make it seem slightly less powerful than rivals' 40V offerings, in fact the 20V / 40V labels are just marketing - a 40V tool is only 36 volts as soon as it's turned on.
This chainsaw's 5 Amp-hour capacity is actually 25% higher than the GreenWorks 20312.
Currently this chainsaw comes with a bonus grinder using the same batteries. It can be bought as a bare tool for a cost saving if you already have the batteries and charger.
We only rate it behind the GreenWorks and Black+Decker rivals due to its (usually) higher price for similar performance. As prices change rapidly, if you can find this tool for a similar price to its rivals, the Makita model may be the best choice.
Makita back this chainsaw with a 3-year warranty.
- Makita-built motor delivers 1,650 FPM chain speed for faster cutting
- Two 18V LXT Lithium-Ion batteries (included) deliver power and performance without leaving the 18V LXT platform
- Low noise level at only 89 dB(A) and zero emissions for operator comfort
Maintenance / Cleaning
You should only use a mild soap and damp cloth to clean your chainsaw. Strong detergents and solvents can damage both the plastic housing and the electrical components inside.
The guide bar and chain should be cleaned after every few hours of use.
The blade will need sharpened once it becomes dull and less effective. Unless you know what you're doing, the safest (though most expensive) option is to get a professional to sharpen the chain for you.
Should you decide to take this task on yourself, consumer-grade electric sharpeners are available, which are both easier to use and more effective than the traditional method of using a file to sharpen the chain. This guide from doityourself.com walks you through the process.
There were no recalls listed for any of the chainsaws in this comparison at the time of writing (September 2017). However, it's always a good idea to check the latest information at the Consumer Product Safety Commission website before buying any large, expensive or potentially dangerous product.
As with all power tools, it's important to be safety conscious. The main points to be aware of:
- Read the manufacturer's instructions and follow them.
- Check the tool housing, bar, and chain for damage before using it - every time. Do not use the chainsaw if there is any visible damage.
- Never allow children to operate the chainsaw, or be nearby when you are using it. Make sure anyone in the vicinity knows to approach you slowly from the front, as you may not be able to hear them.
- Always wear protective chainsaw pants or chaps, enclosed footwear, a dust mask, safety glasses, gloves and ear protection.
- Never cut alone, in case you do injure yourself.
- Switch off & remove the battery from the chainsaw before cleaning or maintenance.
This guide at familyhandyman.com has more in-depth safety information.
Do you own any of the chainsaws mentioned here? Did you choose a different one? Let us know in the comments!