In the past few years technology has advanced a lot which has finally allowed some of the electric chainsaws, both cordless and corded, become a viable alternative to a gas chainsaw. Admittedly most of the electric chainsaws for sale today are still mediocre but among them you can find a few that are outstanding and performance wise comparable to gas chainsaws.
You could argue that in most cases a good electric chainsaw in 2021 is actually a better choice than gas chainsaw since not only they can cut well but also offer a multitude of advantages over their gas counterparts. They require less maintenance, are quieter, don’t emit fumes that are harmful to breath and start-up immediately.
If you are looking for an electric chainsaw, whether battery or cord powered, you have come to the right place because you are about to find out which ones are the best!
Best Battery Powered/Cordless Chainsaws
Battery powered chainsaws are generally more expensive than corded ones but they offer better mobility since you are not limited by the availability of having a power outlet nearby and they are easier to use because there’s no cord to get in your way
#1 Makita XCU04 LXT 18V X2 (36V)
Makita XCU04 (also sold as XCU04PT and XCU04Z) is overall the best battery powered chainsaw. It cuts well, it’s pretty lightweight and very well balanced.
Makita XCU04 is equipped with 16-inch guide bar and chain. It has brushless motor and at no-load can move chain at 65.6 feet per second. It perhaps doesn’t cut quite as fast as similarly or slightly more expensive Husqy or STIHL but it’s not far off. It has all the power for most homeowners and handles thick hardwood logs or trees well.
Makita XCU04 excels at cutting wood that’s up to 16 inches thick (including hardwoods), but can handle more reasonably well too.
Makita XCU04 comes with two 18V batteries and runs on both of them simultaneously. Full charge lasts a bit over 30 minutes running continuously at no load. Actual run time depends on how and what you cut. Batteries have built-in indicators to show how much charge is left.
Batteries take about an hour to charge from fully depleted to full charge. Run time to recharge time ratio is among the best among all battery powered chainsaws.
Ease of use
One of the reasons why Makita XCU04 is the best electric chainsaw is because it’s so comfortable and easy to use. It’s very well balanced, ergonomics are great and it’s also relatively lightweight for its size weighing just 11 lbs (5 kg) including the batteries.
Makita XCU04 has all the features you would expect from modern chainsaw including auto oiling system with adjustable oil pump feed rate, tool-less chain tensioning (simple and easy), front hand guard chain brake (works great and stops chain very fast) as well metal bucking spikes which allow you to dig into logs very nicely.
Makita XCU04 is the best electric chainsaw you can currently buy. It has plenty of power, it’s very well balanced and is comparable to many gas chainsaws in terms of cutting performance.
#2 Milwaukee M18 FUEL
Milwaukee M18 FUEL 16-inch Oregon bar and chain. It has brushless motor than revs up to 6,600 RPM and moves ist chain 40.7 feet per second (12.4 m/s) at no-load. Although it doesn’t have the fastest chain speed it actually does cut better than some chainsaws that can move their chain faster.
Milwaukee M18 FUEL is actually among the best cutting battery powered chainsaws despite not the best chain speed. It cuts about as fast as Makita XCU04 and there’s no significant difference between the two.
Milwaukee M18 FUEL 2727-21HD comes with 12.0Ah battery (M18 REDLITHIUM™ HIGH OUTPUT™ HD12.0). On full charge it lasts about as long as 16-inch gas chainsaws with full tank of gas.
It does have one of the best run time to recharge time ratios which is about the same as Makita XCU04 – 1:2.
Ease of use
Milwaukee M18 FUEL weighs 13.9 lbs (6.3 kg) making it heavier than Makita chainsaw despite the same size. It’s also less balanced. Balance and ergonomics aren’t bad but Makita XCU04 is obvious winner in these terms.
Milwaukee M18 FUEL has features like automatic oiler, metal bucking spikes, great chain brake and variable speed trigger.
Milwaukee M18 FUEL is a great battery powered chainsaw but it does fall behind Makita XCU04 in some categories.
#3 Greenworks GCS80420 Pro 80V
Greenworks GCS80420 Pro 80V is equipped with 18” (45.8cm) Oregon bar and Oregon chain. It has brushless motor that allows chainsaw move chain at 49.2 feet per second (15 m/s) at no load.
Greenworks GCS80420 Pro 80V cuts very well and has no issues downing 20 inch oak trees and is great for bucking. Cutting speed is comparable to gas chainsaws although it might be a bit slower than similarly/slightly-more priced Husqvarna or STIHL.
Greenworks also sells a 40V Chainsaw and the difference between them is day and night. Greenworks 40V chainsaw is good for light duty jobs but it can’t handle serious stuff like Greenworks GCS80420 Pro 80V do.
Power trigger is not variable meaning you cannot feather it. It simply works as an on/off switch so you either get all or none of the power.
Greenworks GCS80420 Pro 80V comes with 2.0Ah battery which lasts 10 minutes or slightly more on full charge and takes about 30 to recharge. Because of this you will likely need to purchase extra battery or batteries.
Ease of use
Greenworks GCS80420 Pro 80V weighs 14.2 pounds (6.44 kg) with 2.0Ah battery. It’s not necessarily heavy considering it has 18-inch bar but it’s heavier than Makita XCU04
Greenworks GCS80420 Pro 80V chainsaw features automatic oiler with translucent oil tank, hand brake and metal bucking spikes. It doesn’t have tool-less chain tensioning system like some other chainsaws do. To adjust chain you need a screwdriver and 13mm wrench (or chainsaw wrench). It must be noted that some consumers have had issues with chain popping off constantly but since most don’t they are likely doing something wrong.
If you need a chainsaw with larger guide bar then Greenworks GCS80420 Pro 80V is the right choice for you. It does run out of battery juice quite fast but it’s powerful and cuts well.
#4 EGO Power+ CS1400 Cordless Chainsaw
EGO Power+ CS1400 is the smallest among the best battery powered chainsaws. It’s equipped with 14-inch Oregon 144MLEA041 bar and Oregon 90PX052X chain (It’s also sold with 16-inch bar as EGO Power+ CS1600). Just like all the others it has brushless motor too that revs as high as 6,300 RPM to move its chain at 48.2 feet per second (14.7 m/s).
EGO Power+ CS1400 doesn’t cut as well as gas chainsaws but it still can handle some jobs just fine. It goes through wood that’s under 8 inches thick without much effort and generally works well for anything that’s up to 10-12 inches thick. As long as you don’t cut anything thicker the difference compared to gas chainsaw isn’t large.
EGO Power+ CS1400 can be bought as a bare tool or with different type of batteries. Here is a quick overview of all the batteries compatible with CS1400 that EGO Power+ offers:
- 2.0Ah battery
- Charge time with standard charger: 40 minutes
- Charge time with rapid charger: 25 minutes
- Battery weight: 2.65 lbs / 1.2 kg
- Weight (Chainsaw + battery): 10.94 lbs / 4.96 kg
- 2.5Ah battery
- Charge time with standard charger: 50 minutes
- Charge time with rapid charger: 30 minutes
- Battery weight: 2.87 lbs / 1.3 kg
- Weight (Chainsaw + battery): 11.15 lbs / 5.06 kg
- 5.0Ah battery
- Charge time with standard charger: 100 minutes
- Charge time with rapid charger: 40 minutes
- Battery weight: 4.85 lbs / 2.2 kg
- Weight (Chainsaw + battery): 13.14 lbs / 5.96 kg
- 7.5Ah battery
- Charge time with standard charger: 145 minutes
- Charge time with rapid charger: 60 minutes
- Battery weight: 6.17 lbs / 2.8 kg
- Weight (Chainsaw + battery): 14.46 lbs / 6.56 kg
- 10.0Ah battery
- Charge time with standard charger: 190 minutes
- Charge time with rapid charger: 70 minutes
- Battery weight: 7.5 lbs / 3.4 kg
- Weight (Chainsaw + battery): 15.79 lbs / 7.16 kg
All of the batteries have built-in led lights that show how much charge is left.
Ease of use
EGO Power+ CS1400 is pretty well balanced. With the smallest battery available (2.0Ah) it weighs 10.94 lbs making it the lightest chainsaw in this review so far which is to be expected since it’s also the smallest one, however Makita XCU04 weighs just 0.06 lbs more with two batteries and will run longer on full charge.
If we compare bare tools EGO Power+ CS1400 weighs 8.29 lbs whereas Makita 8.3 lbs – essentially the same despite Makita being bigger chainsaw.
EGO Power+ CS1400 has features like toolless chain tensioning, chain kickback brake handle, automatic oiling system, transparent oil level window (can be a bit hard to read though) and a safety button.
EGO Power+ CS1400 didn’t make it to top 3 when it comes to best cordless chainsaws but it’s still a pretty good chainsaw. It’s significantly better than most cordless ones even though the 3 above it are a bit better.
Best Electric Pruning/Climbing Chainsaw
#1 Makita XCU06
Makita XCU06 (also sold as XCU06Z and XCU06T) is the best electric pruning/climbing chainsaw. It has top-handle design and is equipped with 10-inch guide bar and chain. It’s also very lightweight which is important for climbing chainsaw, it weighs just 7.2 lbs with battery making it easy and comfortable to operate with one hand (which is dangerous and shouldn’t be attempted if you aren’t experienced and don’t know what you are doing).
Makita XCU06 has all the power you need for pruning/climbing and can move its chain at impressive 78.7 feet per second at no-load. Electric brushless motor outputs 100% of torque at any RPM making pruning very easy to do.
Makita XCU06 has adjustable automatic chain lubrication (oil tank capacity is 140 mL), effective chain brake and auto power function which turns off chainsaw after 60 seconds of inactivity (but since it’s electric chainsaw it’s super fast to turn on again).
Makita XCU06 can be bought with 5.0Ah battery or without one. Battery life is pretty good with 5.0Ah battery for those lighter duty pruning jobs.
Makita XCU06 is the best electric pruning/climbing chainsaw. It’s powerful, lightweight and features top-handle design.
Best Corded Chainsaw
When it comes to corded chainsaws there’s one that stands out among competition. Which one? Let’s find out!
#1 Oregon CS1500
Oregon CS1500 is a corded chainsaw that’s equipped with 18-inch guide bar and PowerSharp chain. It has 15-amp 1800 Watt motor that allow chain to move 48.1 feet per second (14.66 m/s) at no load.
Why does it stands out among competition? Because it offers superior cutting performance compared to similarly priced competitor chainsaws.
Oregon CS1500 cuts well pretty much any type of wood. It cuts through 16 inch logs without issues and handles up to 20-inch ones well.
EGO Power+ CS1400 features tool-less chain tensioning system (it’s simple to use and works well), chain brake, Lubri-Tec oiling system and Powersharp integrated sharpening system. It’s also CARB compliant.
It’s important you read manual to set up oiling system properly. You don’t simply add oil and start cutting. Instead after adding oil take off side cover (twist side cover release knob counterclockwise) and remove chain and bar. Then hold the power trigger and let motor run with gear spinning until oil starts to come out of the port. Once it does you can put guide bar and chain back on. After you do it’s recommended you do a second check – Place the tip of the bar close to the wood you are about to cut and run it at full speed. If the oiler is working properly you should see slight oil splatter on the wood.
You might also wonder what’s is the Powersharp integrated sharpening system. It’s a pretty interesting feature you might have not seen on a chainsaw before. Basically inside the Oregon CS1500 there’s is a sharpening stone. When your chain becomes dull you can sharpen it by running chain at maximum speed and lightly lifting PowerSharp level for 3-5 seconds. As chain makes contact with sharpening stone you will see sparks coming out. Sounds a bit phony but it actually works pretty well.
A corded chainsaw obviously requires a cord with appropriate gauge rating which you will have to purchase separately unless you already own one as Oregon CS1500 doesn’t come with one (corded chainsaws generally don’t).
Cords that are up to 50 feet long should have gauge rating of no worse than 14 (the lower the number the better). Cords that are up to 100 feet should have gauge rating no worse than 12 AWG. Use of cords that are longer than 100 feet isn’t recommended.
Obviously to use Oregon CS1500 you will need to have a power outlet nearby. If there are none then portable generator or portable power station with outlet can be used.
Oregon CS1500 weighs 12.6 lbs (5.7 kilograms) so it’s actually heavier than Makita XCU04P despite not having a battery inside. Still ergonomics are decent. Overall balance although not perfect is good. CS1500 is easy and comfortable to use and doesn’t feel too heavy.
When it comes to corded chainsaws Oregon CS1500 offers the best value for money. It’s relatively inexpensive yet performs well.