Best Cordless Chainsaws (2019)
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.
We have a new favorite cordless chainsaw – the Black + Decker LCS1020. This is a thoroughly updated replacement for our previous pick, the LCS120. We believe this revised chainsaw justifies it’s no.1 position, and customers seem to agree – at the time of writing 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 Comparison
#1 Black + Decker LCS1020 - Our Top Choice
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The Black + Decker LCS1020 is the best cordless chainsaw overall that we have seen on the market. We believe it has everything most people will ever need in a chainsaw, at a very 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), 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 about. 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.
#2 GreenWorks 20312
The GreenWorks 20312
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.
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Safety features include a chain brake and low kickback chain. The 201312 also includes a fully automatic chain oiling system - 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 years on the battery.
#3 Black + Decker LCS1240
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The larger, more powerful big brother to our top 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 provides the same 2-year warranty with this model.
#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.
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#5 Makita XCU02PTX1
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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 could be the best choice.
Makita back this chainsaw with a 3-year warranty.
Advantages of cordless chainsaws
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, so 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 stabilizers 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!
Disadvantages of cordless chainsaws
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.
cordless Chainsaws vs. reciprocating saws
By now we all know what chainsaws are and as the name suggests, reciprocating saws are a sort of powered saws that cut using push-and-pull motions. In terms of power, chainsaws lead the race but reciprocating saws are no joke as well.
While chainsaws are ideal for cutting down hard wood trees (like oak) and doing the job quickly, reciprocating saws are great for tackling smaller trees with trunks that you can wrap your hands around. You can also use the latter for cutting up board pieces.
However, there are some pros the reciprocating saws have - the price, the noise and the maintenance. These saws cost less and are quieter relatively. The are not completely muffled, but certainly less than chainsaws. As for maintenance, reciprocating chainsaws do require the occasional sharpening and other basics, but the overall process is much simpler.
Therefore, if you are someone who is not into cutting trees regularly and intend to deal with thinner ones, then reciprocating chainsaws could be worth the buy.
How we chose The Toppers
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.
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.
As with all power tools, it's important to be safety conscious. The main points to be aware of are:
- Reading the manufacturer's instructions and following them.
- Checking the tool housing, bar, and chain for damage before using it - every time. Do not use the chainsaw if there is any visible damage.
- Keeping children away from 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 wearing protective chainsaw pants or chaps, enclosed footwear, a dust mask, safety glasses, gloves and ear protection.
- Switching off & removing 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!