The Best Cordless Electric Chainsaws

These battery-powered chainsaws are light, quiet, fast cutting—and perfect for pruning and other yard jobs.

The great American chainsaw has undergone a revolution in the last decade. It’s gone electric­–or more precisely, cordless. The advent of high-capacity lithium storage cells, improved forms of motors (especially brushless), and even the ability to quickly prototype power-tool bodies and configurations using 3D printing has produced something amazing: a quiet, clean-cutting, well-balanced, and productive chainsaw that runs on a battery. Check out five of our top choices below, or scroll deeper for more in-depth reviews of these and other options—plus buying advice. 



Selecting the Right Saw—Cordless vs. Gas

We can make some generalizations to help new users understand cordless chainsaws and their gas-engine counterparts, and which is a better fit. First, gas engine chainsaws are loud–about 105 decibels; a cordless chainsaw is about equal to a corded electric circular saw, at about 100 decibels. You need hearing protection for both tools, but there’s no comparison between the two. As to weight, cordless chainsaws are equal to or a couple of pounds heavier than their gas engine equivalent. A fueled 50-cc gas engine saw weighs 11 to 12 pounds with an 18-inch bar. Cordless chainsaws in this test weigh anywhere from 11 pounds to about 14.

The extra weight isn’t a deal breaker. Most of these saws cut smoothly and without vibration. For pruning, landscape maintenance, and light-duty trail maintenance, cordless chainsaws can hold their own against gas engine saws. For small jobs, a cordless chainsaw may even be faster than the gas engine equivalent, since you don’t have to take the time to add fuel. Just push in a charged battery and go.

The equivalency discussion with gas-engine saws breaks down here: timber felling for lumber or firewood, storm and disaster cleanup, commercial tree removal. These jobs demand the speed and torque afforded by a gas engine saw.

As to what they have in common, both types of saws require bar oil and both require a sharp chain. With both gas and electric chainsaws, you need to know how to sharpen its chain, and you also need at least one spare chain. Run into a nail buried in a log or accidentally get the saw’s nose into the dirt and there goes your sharp chain. Your best option is to swap out the chain and save the sharpening until you can bring the saw indoors.


How We Tested

With yard-based applications in mind, we gathered a group of heavy-duty cordless saws and ran them through a truckload of white-oak logs. We charged each saw’s battery, strapped each test log onto a saw buck, and proceeded to cut test discs (or “cookies”) by pivoting the saw through the log. The test exposes vibration, stalling, hesitancy, and lack of trigger response. If the saw has a low threshold for thermal cutoff to protect the battery and circuitry, then that will also show up because there’s nothing like rapid repeat cuts through white oak to generate heat. Any inefficiency reduces the total number of discs the saw produces. Our winner made more than a hundred cuts; other saws made less than 30.

For the three saws at the end of this article, we took a simpler route to test them. Late autumn storms felled entire trees and many tree branches in our area. We simply went into the woods, or in one case right up the street from our office, and started cutting up all that downed material.


―SMOOTH CUTTER―

Craftsman CMCCS660


Volts: 60 | Number of discs: 29


Craftsman

CMCCS660

Check Price

amazon.com
Pros
Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • Cut relatively few test discs

We were very pleasantly surprised by this unusual looking saw, the only one with a bottom-mount battery. As we say elsewhere, lack of vibration improves saw durability and lessens your fatigue, so we were pleased with this spunky cutter’s ability to move rapidly and smoothly cut after cut, until its battery died. We liked its tool-free chain tightening, but disliked the inability to see the battery gauge, which is not clearly visible below the handle.


―SMOOTH CUTTER―

Craftsman CMCCS660


Volts: 60 | Number of discs: 29


Craftsman

CMCCS660

Check Price

amazon.com
Pros
Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • Cut relatively few test discs

We were very pleasantly surprised by this unusual looking saw, the only one with a bottom-mount battery. As we say elsewhere, lack of vibration improves saw durability and lessens your fatigue, so we were pleased with this spunky cutter’s ability to move rapidly and smoothly cut after cut, until its battery died. We liked its tool-free chain tightening, but disliked the inability to see the battery gauge, which is not clearly visible below the handle.

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