You can’t beat a chainsaw for cutting firewood, felling trees, clearing debris, pruning, and trimming limbs. Chainsaws save a huge amount time and effort over using traditional saws and axes. You won’t go back to old school style once you’ve sliced through that pile of logs in a quarter of the time.
If you’re worried about the noise and fumes of a gas chainsaw, there are powerful corded electric and battery models on the market. They make a lot less noise and have no fumes at all. If you’re concerned about safety, remember that you know how to drive a car, and that’s a dangerous tool, too, if you aren’t paying attention. Be sure to wear safety gear and learn how to use your saw properly. Buy a saw that offers a hand guard and a chain brake in case of kickback.
What makes a chainsaw good for home use
How big are the jobs you’ll be cutting with your saw? Are you doing occasional limbing and pruning or are you clearing land? Are you chopping firewood weekly or just occasionally for camping?
For example, if you’ll be cutting firewood close to your home on a weekly basis, and you don’t want a lot of noise because of the neighbors, you could look for a corded electric chainsaw. Check out the WORX corded electric model described below.
If you need to range farther out and want the most power you can afford in a saw, check out the gas-powered models like the Husqvarna in this review.
The best saw for you is the one that’s powerful enough to get your work done, but easy to operate so it doesn’t sit in the garage unused.
Important features in a chainsaw
Easy to start
The easiest chainsaws to start are corded electric and battery models that turn on with the push of a button. Gas-powered chainsaws generally have a pull cord. There’s no point in getting a saw that you can’t turn on, so if you don’t like yanking a cord, check for easy start models.
You shouldn’t need to be Hercules to use a chainsaw. After all, they’re made to help you get work done, not give you a workout. We chose models that had a good balance of power for their weight, with a preference for lighter saws.
Most chainsaws made for homeowners feature 14 to 18 inch bars. Some models have the ability to swap bars so you can use more than one size. The Husqvarna 440e is one of those.
We looked for chainsaws that were simple to maintain, because if it’s too much work the saw won’t get used. Electric and battery-powered models are the least expensive to operate and maintain. The “fuel” cost is cheap because it’s electricity, not gas. The only oil you need is what you use for the chain. There may be an air filter but there’s no spark plug or need for a tune-up like a gas-powered chainsaw has to have.
Five Top Chainsaws for Home Use
We chose two gas, one corded electric, and two battery models for you. We strove to balance price with power and offer both chainsaws for big jobs and little tasks. Check them out below.
High-power gas chainsaw for big jobs
The 440e falls into the homeowner category but it works for light ranch use, too. It won a Consumer Best Buy Award because it has excellent features, power, and value compared to its price.
You can work this saw hard.It’s the most powerful saw in this review although the WORX corded electric model gives it a run for the money. The forged 3-piece crankshaft is made to last for years. The 2.41HP X-Torq motor has high compression for its size. It can operate anywhere from a 13” to an 18” bar. The motor is CARB-compliant with few emissions so it can be used in California.
The tank holds about 3/4–pint of gas, enough for a couple of hours of cutting. Some owners have complained that the method for starting the 440e has to be followed to the letter. Those that follow the instructions have found that it starts reliably every time. You’ll need to set the choke lever, prime it with the bulb, then yank the cord a couple of times. Because it’s so powerful it would be very dangerous to drop start it.
Maintenance on the 440e is easy. The chainsaw is self-oiling—just fill the oil tank and go. The air filter is easy to remove and clean, or replace. The tool-less tensioner for the chain is very handy to have when you’re out working away from the house and don’t have a screwdriver handy. You can even adjust it while you’re wearing gloves.
It’s a bit on the heavy side, weighing 17.5 pounds. The noise level at the operator’s ear is 102dB, about average for a gas-powered chainsaw. (For safety, wear hearing protection when you operate it.) The vibration level isn’t bad either: 3.2m/s² at the rear handle.The less vibration the better for long hours of use.
More features of the Husqvarna 440E
- Husqvarna offers a 2-year warranty.
- Husqvarna website has good customer support with manuals and how-to videos
Budget gas chainsaw for small jobs
This saw weighs just 12 pounds and comes with a 14” steel bar. It’s made for light use clearing up debris and cutting firewood. Since it’s lightweight it also works well for trimming limbs. If it gets stuck or there’s kickback, the inertia-activated chain brake stops the chain’s rotation for safety. The anti-vibration feature in the handle keeps you from getting as numb and tired on long jobs.
The engine is 33cc 2-cycle and is equipped with a primer bulb for easier starting. Thesuper clean air filter system is made to protect the engine from debris and overheating. It has an automatic chain oiler like the Husqvarna saw, but you’ll need tools to adjust the tension of the chain.
This is not a new saw on the market; it’s been around the block. A decade ago there were a lot of customer complaints that it was hard to start. Since then, Poulan has made improvements and the P3341 is much more reliable.
Overall, this is a budget chainsaw made for occasional use. If you need more power, take a look at the Husqvarna described above.
More features of the Poulan P3341
- Poulan offers a 1-year warranty.
- Runs on a gas/oil mixture of 40:1
Powerful corded electric chainsaw for big jobs
This is a best-seller on retail websites because it’s an easy-to-use powerhouse that’s not expensive to buy, run, or maintain. It costs less to buy than most gas chainsaws and you’ll spend less to keep it running. It can handle felling small trees, cutting firewood, or doing other heavy cleanup. The only limitation you have is managing the power cord.
The WG304.1 has a 4HP engine but it runs quietly compared to a gas chainsaw. It comes with a long 18” bar that has a tool-free tensioner. It’s also possible to replace the chain entirely without tools. Add oil to the reservoir and the chain oils itself. You can see how oil is left by looking at the level indicator.
Like the Poulan saw, the WORX has an automatic chain brake in case of kickback. The rubber overmolded grip reduces the amount of vibration you’ll feel as you work. The saw weighs just a couple ounces over 11 pounds, making it lighter than either gas-powered model in this review.
The only problem you’re likely to have is making sure you have the right extension cord for the job. Since it runs on 15Amps, you’ll be limited to a maximum of 100 feet of 12AWG cord.
More features of the WORX WG304.1
- WORX offers a 3-year limited warranty (longer than either of the gas-powered models above) and a 30-day money-back guarantee
- Comes with a blade protection cover
Powerful battery chainsaw, best for novice users
We were drawn to this chainsaw because it has a brushless motor, and we love that in power tools. It’s a sign of quality and a tool that will last. Brushless motors have a longer lifetime and run more efficiently. This is important in a battery-powered tool. GreenWorks also points out that the brushless motor greatly reduces vibration. That’s good, because operating a vibrating chainsaw is tiresome.
The Greenworks 20312 lasts for up to 100 cuts on a single charge of its 4.0Ah capacity Lithium-Ion battery. The 16” bar can handle cutting up to 30” diameter logs. If you happen to have other GreenWorks 40V tools, this battery is interchangeable with the other 40V tools. If you don’t have any other batteries on hand, this one charges in about 2 hours with the included charger.
Of course it has electric start. There’s no cord to yank. That feature combined with the fact that it weighs under 7 pounds makes it a great chainsaw for novice users. There is a chain brake in case of kickback and a hand guard. Those are really essential safety features for a chainsaw. The chain self-oils and you don’t need any tools to adjust the tension. The translucent oil tank makes it easy to know if you need to add more oil.
More features of the GreenWorks 20312
- GreenWorks offers a 10-year limited warranty on the brushless motor
- Comes with a soft case and blade cover
Budget battery-powered chainsaw for small jobs
Just because we said “budget” doesn’t mean this isn’t a little powerhouse of a chainsaw. Like the GreenWorks saw, the Black & Decker doesn’t cost much to buy, use, or maintain. It runs for about 20 minutes off a 2.0Ah capacity 20V Lithium-Ion battery. That battery, once it’s charged, holds the charge for up to a year. That’s one of the reasons this little saw is great for occasional small jobs.
The battery is rated for up to 150 cuts on 1-1/2” diameter branches. It’s great for pruning and cutting a little firewood. The battery is compatible with other Black & Decker cordless tools running on 20V.
The LCS1020 is very light, weighing just 7.2 pounds. It comes with a ten-inch Oregon bar and chain. They are made specifically to reduce kickback. There’s also a hand guard to protect you and a non-slip rubber overmolded grip.
The chain’s tension adjusts without needing any tools. It self-oils after a fashion, but you’ll need to pump the oil with the plunger every so often. The clear window on the tank makes it easy to see the oil level inside.
More features of the Black & Decker LCS1020
- Black & Decker offers a 2-year limited warranty
- Comes with guide bar scabbard
If you are new to using a chainsaw, the cordless battery-powered Greenworks 20312 has a lot of features to protect you and make it simple to use. It has a long 10-year warranty on its brushless motor. It’s also very lightweight and quiet. The only limitation is needing to recharge the battery, but the battery is interchangeable with other GreenWorks 40V power tools.
If you’re on a budget and have a lot of ground to cover, the gas-powered Poulan P3341 will go with you, no cord or recharge needed.It’s lighter and more compact than the Husqvarna.
If you’re on a budget and have infrequent cutting jobs, the Black & Decker LCS1020 will be ready when you are. It’s light and has nice safety features for less-experienced users.
If you want the most power with the least noise and mess, get the WORX WG304.1. It will slice through large jobs as long as you don’t have to range far from a power outlet.
If you have a lot of heavy work to do and a lot of ground to cover, get the Husqvarna 440e. It’s powerful but efficient on fuel. The biggest challenge is simply following the instructions so that it starts right every time for you.