By Corrie Pelc
A chainsaw is one of those tools a lot of homeowners may not realize they actually should have in their shed. Most times, people imagine a chainsaw as just being needed by lumberjacks and by those who have forests in their backyard they need to maintain. That's not true — a chainsaw can trim bushes and hedges a lot quicker and easier than electric hedgers. And if you do have trees on your property, a chainsaw comes in handy when you want to trim down large branches or if any part of a tree falls down during a storm.
If you don’t have a chainsaw yet in your home landscaping tool kit, we’re here to help you find the best one for your needs with this list of the best chainsaws on the market.
Types of Chainsaws
In general, there are three types of chainsaws based on how they are powered:
- Gas-Powered Chainsaws: These are your traditional chainsaws that run on gasoline. Gas-powered chainsaws are generally considered the best option for heavy-duty work, such as cutting down large trees, as they are normally more powerful than electric chainsaws. However, they are usually very loud, smelly due to the gas they use, and can be a lot heavier than other chainsaw types. And also important to keep in mind that not all cities and towns allow you to use gas-powered chainsaws — or other gas-powered landscaping tools, for that matter — so check your city’s ordinances before purchasing one.
- Corded Electric Chainsaws: Compared to a gas-powered chainsaw, corded electric chainsaws are usually a lot quieter and lighter, plus there's no dealing with refilling gas. These chainsaws are best suited for lighter jobs, like cleaning up hedges and smaller tree limbs. With a corded electric chainsaw, you do have to deal with a power cord, so you'll need an electrical outlet nearby.
- Battery-Powered Chainsaw: The battery-powered chainsaw is basically a corded electric chainsaw minus the cord. Although you can move a lot more freely, the battery won't last forever, so it will need to be recharged between uses.
Factors We Considered When Finding the Best Chainsaws
Knowing what makes for a great chainsaw is crucial in finding the right one for you. Here’s a look at the test factors we used when developing our list of the best-rated chainsaws:
- Price: With chainsaws available at many different price points, cost becomes an important comparison factor.
- Power Type: Is the chainsaw gas-powered, corded electric, or battery-powered?
- Weight: How much does the chainsaw weigh? The heavier the chainsaw, the more challenging it is to move around the yard and use for long periods of time.
- Engine Power: How powerful is the chainsaw’s motor? Power for chainsaw engines is generally measured in cubic centimeters (cc). A larger engine provides more power to the chainsaw, making it appropriate for cutting down trees, while a smaller engine offers less power, making the chainsaw better for things like garden and landscape clean-up. Another way engine power is measured is by Amp, which is the measure of the force of the electrical current of the tool, and volt, which is defined as the electric potential difference between two points.
- Chain Bar Length: The chainsaw bar is the long metal part that extends out from the chainsaw that the chain wraps around. This gives you an idea of how much a chainsaw can cut — smaller chain bar lengths are more suitable to hedges, while larger chainsaw bars can handle large trees. A chain bar length of between 14 to 18 inches is usually best as it covers just about everything.
- Start: How does the chainsaw start — is it a pull start or a push button?
- Bar and Chain Oiler: To perform well, a chainsaw needs oil for its bar and chain. Every chainsaw takes care of this through a fixed flow/automatic or adjustable oiler, which applies oil to the bar and chain while the chainsaw is in use.
- Chain Tensioning: Keeping the chain taught on the bar is crucial for getting max output from a chainsaw. Most chainsaws will offer either side-mounted or tool-free chain tensioning so the chain tension can be easily adjusted when sawing.
- Safety Features: There is no denying that a chainsaw can be a bit scary to operate at first. All of today’s chainsaws have lots of safety features, including things like kickback guards, chain brakes and catchers, guards, and other options.
- Warranty: What type of warranty is available from the manufacturer?
What’s the best chainsaw for the money? Here’s a look at our top-rated chainsaws for 2021.
Best Gas-Powered Chainsaw: Poulan Pro PR4218 18 in. 42cc 2-Cycle Gas Chainsaw
~ $195 on Amazon
A gas-powered chainsaw with a lot of perks and reduced emissions.