Electric vs Gas Chainsaw: Which Is Better for You!

Published Categorized as Chainsaw Buying Advice

There is absolutely no doubt that chainsaws can make certain projects a lot faster than they would have taken if they were attempted with a hand saw. The first chainsaws were created with the intention of cutting down the massive redwood trees in San Francisco – certainly wouldn’t be viable with hand tools! Since the early 1900s when chainsaws were patented, technology for both electric and gas chainsaws has come a long way.

These are the two major types of consumer chainsaws available: gas chainsaws and electric chainsaws. Their names pretty much describe the reason why they are different. Gas chainsaws are designed to run on gasoline, while electric chainsaws make use of electricity.

It can be difficult to know which type of chainsaw is best for you, hence, we’ll be covering the major differences between gas and electric chainsaws to help you better understand what type of jobs each tool excels at so that you’re able to purchase the perfect one.

Table of Contents

Gas Chainsaws

Let’s start with gas chainsaws. They’re typically the tool of choice for heavy outdoor jobs, seen used by professionals such as landscapers, arborists, and loggers. While their gas/oil fuel mixture can be a hassle to work with as you must ensure you have the perfect ratio, their excellent cutting power and longer run time often make them a very attractive option for manual laborers.

Gas chainsaws are available as either 2-cycle or 4-cycle. The only difference you need to know between the two is that the 2-cycle chainsaw requires 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. While 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, it starts with fuel moving through a carburetor to mix with air before this 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. This piston is attached to a connecting rod and crank to convert the motion of the piston to rotary motion.

A drive shaft then takes that power created to the centrifugal clutch. The centrifugal clutch connects the engine to the chain through sprockets that cause it to spin around the guide bar. Here’s an example of a 2-stroke gas-powered chainsaw on Amazon:

Gas Chainsaws Common Uses

Gas-powered chainsaws are commonly found being used in both home and commercial settings, as well as any tasks that fall between. Farmers and ranchers swear by them Because they combine power and portability, many farmers and ranchers swear by these types of chainsaws.

Gas chainsaws are powerful enough to cut down large trees or break up stiff fences, making them the perfect choice of tool for people who need to complete medium-to-large-sized jobs quickly and with great efficiency.

Whether you need to cut down an old tree on your property that’s overhanging or blocking the sun, or even complete an entire day’s landscaping project, a gas chainsaw is suitable to get the job done.

Gas Chainsaw Pros

  • Generally have more power and a faster cutting speed when compared with electric chainsaws
  • Ability to cut large trees and branches
  • Are available in a wide range of bar lengths
  • Gasoline fueling systems give them a longer running duration

Gas Chainsaw Cons

  • Can be quite loud
  • Tend to be more expensive than electric chainsaws
  • Heavier and therefore more fatiguing to use
  • They produce oil and gas fumes

Electric Chainsaws

Electric chainsaws are cleaner and more energy-efficient than gas chainsaws but often feature a lower maximum cutting power as well. While they may not be as rugged and reliable for heavy cutting or long workdays as their gas counterparts, they’re a great option for basic yard work and chores around the house.

The cutting ability of an electric chainsaw will vary quite significantly depending on whether it’s a corded, or battery-powered model. Electric chainsaws come in these two types: a corded electric chainsaw and a cordless electric chainsaw; both versions operate the same way to drive the chain and the only difference between them is how the chainsaw is powered.

Those saws that are powered by batteries have the advantage of being extremely portable, but corded saws often boast a notably greater cutting power. Corded chainsaws require electricity from an electrical outlet while cordless chainsaws run on batteries.

As for how electric chainsaws work, they 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. This torque is transferred to a shaft inside the chainsaw that causes the chainsaw chain to spin around the chainsaw guide bar.

Here’s an example of a corded chainsaw on Amazon:

Here’s an example of a battery-powered chainsaw on Amazon:

Common Uses for Electric Chainsaws

Given that electric chainsaws have a light and compact nature, this makes them ideal for small-to-medium-sized jobs around your house and backyard. If you are looking to keep your trees in tip-top shape, then these types of chainsaws are an excellent choice for the job.

You should look to an electric chainsaw when you need to trim dead branches, cut small logs for backyard fire pits, and other tasks to keep your yard looking great. These chainsaws are light enough to carry around for extended periods of use without causing fatigue on your arms, hands, or back in comparison to gas chainsaws.

They are also fairly quieter and will not give off any of the noxious fumes that gas chainsaws do. Therefore, this makes electric chainsaws a lot more pleasant to use in a quiet neighborhood, easier on your lungs, and better for the environment.

Another great trait of these types of chainsaws is that whether they’re battery-powered or corded, users can expect very minimal maintenance with an electric chainsaw. This convenience makes them ideal for anyone who does not have plans to use their chainsaw more than once a week.

Electric Chainsaw Pros

  • Lightweight and easily transportable
  • Don’t give off any fumes from burning gasoline and oil (though it still needs oil for lubrication, which you can learn about here: Oil for Electric Chainsaw)
  • Way easier to start
  • Very suitable for yardwork
  • Require very little maintenance

Electric Chainsaw Cons

  • Battery-powered chainsaws may only last for about an hour
  • Corded chainsaws have limited ranges (typically up to 100 feet)
  • Not great for heavy-duty sawing
  • Not ideal for professional use

Electric vs Gas Chainsaws: Which Type is Right for You?

All the information so far brings us to the most important question in deciding which saw is right for you: What sort of work do you need to do with your chainsaw?

Before you shop for a chainsaw, consider the work you plan to do. The size and type of wood you need to cut and your experience using a chainsaw are all factors in selecting the right saw.

For homeowners and anyone who only needs to occasionally use a chainsaw, electric chainsaws are the far better choice as they offer many advantages. Electric chainsaws are lighter, portable, and have a quieter operation making them much more enjoyable to use.

Electric chainsaws require little maintenance, are far more convenient, and are easy to use. Not only this, but they will often be available at a lower price than gas-powered chainsaws, making them an easy choice for anyone who doesn’t plan to use their chainsaw in a professional capacity.

However, if your chainsaw projects are going to involve long hours of work or cutting down larger trees, you will need the additional power and operating longevity of a gas-powered chainsaw. Sure, they require more maintenance and create a lot of noise and fumes during operation, but their sheer cutting power is impossible to match with an electric chainsaw.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Which is better an electric or gas chainsaw?

This depends on the tasks you have at hand. Gas chainsaws typically offer a lot more power and will allow you to complete more professional-like tasks such as cutting large trees and branches. However, if you only require a chainsaw for lighter duties like cleaning up the backyard, the electric chainsaw is better. Electric chainsaws, whether they’re corded or battery, are lighter, easier to use, quieter, and better for the environment, while still being able to complete your small-to-medium-sized tasks.

Is it worth buying an electric chainsaw?

It is worth buying an electric chainsaw if you have small-to-medium-sized jobs around your house and backyard to complete. These chainsaws can help you keep your trees in tip-top shape, with their light, compact nature making them the ideal choice.

Can an electric chainsaw cut down a tree?

A corded electric or battery-powered chainsaw may not have enough power to cut down a tree. These types of chainsaws will only be able to cut down small trees and prune branches. For medium-to-large-sized trees, it is generally recommended to use a more powerful gas-powered chainsaw for ease of use.

Is an electric chainsaw powerful enough?

Electric chainsaws are powerful enough for you to trim dead branches, cut small logs for backyard fire pits, and other tasks to keep your yard looking great. If it comes to any tasks which are greater than these then you may require a gas-powered chainsaw for greater power. An electric chainsaw is certainly not powerful enough to cut through larger trees and branches and may result in chainsaw kickback.

By Dave Cross

Hi, I'm Dave. I’ve been sawing for more than 40 years. I feel most at home when I’m surrounded by nature and my saws, but occasionally, I’ll share some of my know-how and experience on Cross Saw Mill.

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