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Thinking of buying your first chainsaw?
But not sure if you want to go electric or gas powered?
If so, I fully understand.
On the surface, an electric chainsaw seems like a great deal, but can it meet your needs or do you really need the power of a gas chainsaw?
To help you make the right decision, I’ve put together this in-depth electric vs gas chainsaw guide.
Below, you’ll find an overview of the pros and cons of electric and gas chainsaws as well as an easy-to-read comparison chart.
The goal here is to help you walk away with a better idea of which type is best for you.
Once you make a decision, check out my other free guides to actually narrow down your chainsaw selection.
They include the best corded electric chainsaw guide, the best battery powered chainsaw guide, and the best gas chainsaw guide. Each one has the top models for you to choose from as well as helpful buying tips.
How Does an Electric Chainsaw Work?
Electric chainsaws come in two types: corded and cordless; and both versions operate the same way to drive the chain.
The only difference between the two is how the chainsaw is powered.
Corded chainsaws require electricity from an electrical outlet while cordless chainsaws run on batteries.
As for how electric chainsaws work, here’s what you need to know:
- Electric chainsaws are powered by electrical motors.
- Electrical motors don’t have moving parts like a gas engine. An internal power-producing component called an “armature” converts electrical power into mechanical power in the form of torque.
- Torque is transferred to a shaft inside the chainsaw that causes the chain to spin around the guide bar.
How Does a Gas Chainsaw Work?
Gas chainsaws come in two types: 2-cycle and 4-cycle.
For the purposes of this guide, the only difference you need to know between the two is that 2-cycle chainsaws require you to mix oil with gasoline and pour it into one tank to feed the engine. This fuel mixture is what properly lubricates the engine components.
A 4-cycle chainsaw doesn’t need an oil/gas mix because it has two separate tanks for oil and gasoline.
As for how gas chainsaws work, here’s what you need to know:
- Fuel moves through a carburetor to mix with air.
- The air/fuel mixture passes into a cylinder.
- Inside the cylinder, the air/fuel mixture is ignited by a spark plug.
- As the air/fuel mixture burns, it releases energy that pushes a piston back and forth.
- A connecting rod and crank convert the motion of the piston to rotary motion.
- A drive shaft takes that power to the centrifugal clutch.
- The centrifugal clutch connects the engine to the chain through sprockets that cause it to spin around the guide bar.
Why Choose an Electric Chainsaw?
- They’re lightweight and compact, making them easy for any size person to handle.
- They’re quieter than gas chainsaws and only make noise when you pull the throttle trigger.
- They don’t require gasoline or produce a smell.
- They start with the touch of a button.
- Electric chainsaws are best used for sprucing up trees, trimming limbs, cutting small logs, and other cutting tasks around your home or yard.
- They’re easy to maintain since there’s no fuel to mix, filters to clean, or engine parts to keep oiled.
- They’re easy to store. Just turn the chainsaw off, unplug it, and set it aside.
- Corded electric models are cheaper than gas chainsaws—around one-third the price. Battery chainsaws are about the same price as gas chainsaws.
- Corded electric models run forever as long as they’re plugged in. Cordless models are limited by the battery charge (usually 30 mins. to 1 hour of cutting time).
- They lack the bar length and power to cut down large trees. The longest chainsaw blade you’ll find in an electric chainsaw is 18 inches.
- They cut slower than gas chainsaws and are best used for light landscaping and cutting smaller size trees. They can struggle to do heavy duty jobs. Corded electric chainsaws are limited by the length of an extension cord and how far you can take them. Battery operated chainsaws are not limited in their distance.
- Battery powered chainsaws only last as long as the battery charge and take between 20 mins to 1 hour or more to recharge.
Why Choose a Gas Chainsaw?
- They’re best for heavy duty work and handle any job you throw at them: pruning, trimming, cutting down very large trees, slicing up firewood, etc.
- They have blade lengths up to 72 inches long.
- They cut faster than corded electric or battery chainsaws.
- They’re extremely mobile and can be used anywhere. The’yre not limited in distance like a corded electric chainsaw.
- They can run all day long if you have enough fuel.
- They’re much heavier than electric chainsaws and can be harder to handle for long periods of time.
- They require you to keep fuel on hand and carry it around with you while cutting.
- They require a specific mixture of fuel and oil if it’s a 2-cycle engine.
- They emit a smell and blow out smoke.
- They’re extremely loud and operators should wear hearing protection to avoid hearing loss or damage.
- They’re more expensive than electric chainsaws but comparable to the price of battery chainsaws.
- They require routine engine maitenance to keep them working.
- They use a cord to pull start which can become difficult as the engine gets older.
Electric vs Gas Chainsaw Comparison Chart
As a way to clearly sum up everything you’ve learned on this page, I’ve included a comparison chart for electric chainsaws vs gas chainsaws below.
Hopefully, this will help you quickly determine which type of chainsaw is best for you.
|Electric Chainsaws||Gas Chainsaws|
|Lightweight and compact||Heavy|
|Quiet and no fuel emissions||Loud and has a gas smell|
|Uses electricity or batteries||2-cycle uses gas/oil mix and 4-cycle uses gas only|
|Starts with a button||Starts by pulling a cord|
|Good for basic yard work||Good for all types of yard work and heavy duty jobs|
|Relatively no maintenance||Needs routine maintenance|
|Cheapest type (if corded electric model)||Most expensive type|
|Runs forever (if corded electric model)||Runs as long as you can refuel it|
|Limited in reach (if corded electric model)||Extremely mobile with no limits|
|Blades only go up to 18 inches||Blades go up to 72 inches|
I hope you enjoyed this guide on electric vs gas chainsaws.