It’s not going to fell lumberjack-worthy trees, but a battery chainsaw may well be your handiest assistant when it comes to more moderate cutting and felling jobs around the garden, campsite, or homestead.
Dan Morris, owner of chainsaw website Fire and Saw, advises: "The benefit of a battery chainsaw is that there are no fumes, and they are much quieter than gas-powered chainsaws. However, you are a lot more limited in what you can cut with them; these chainsaws max out at bar lengths of 18 inches, whereas there are gas chainsaws with bars as long as 6 feet, although admittedly, those are only used by pros. Still, a cordless electric chainsaw is best for smaller jobs around your property or a campground.
My advice when buying a chainsaw is to first have a clear picture of what you want to be able to do with it. Do you plan on using it just for pruning and trimming small trees and shrubs, or are you looking for a chainsaw that can fell trees and cut firewood?
Those only doing light work will get away with buying a less-expensive, smaller saw with lower power and a bar length of 10 to 12 inches. Whereas those who want to cut thicker logs will need something more powerful with a bar length of 14 to 18 inches."
Here are our favorite battery chainsaws.
EGO Power+ CS1611 56V 16-Inch Cordless Chainsaw
Excellent battery run time
Metal bucking spikes
Cut the cord but keep the power with the EGO Power+ cordless chainsaw. You should have no problem felling small trees, cutting firewood, or tackling overgrown shrubs with this 16-inch chainsaw, boasting a 56-volt ARC lithium battery that lasts up to two and a half hours without needing a recharge. That’s up to 130 cuts on wood the size of a 4 x 4 and without the smell, fumes, or noise you’d experience with a similar-sized gas chainsaw. Nor should you struggle with a pull-cord to start the tool running. Just push a button, and you’re ready to go.
Customers also appreciate the other great features of this chainsaw, including: independent dials for fast and easy chain and bar adjustments; an automatic oiling system to keep the bar running smoothly; a high-efficiency brushless motor that requires less maintenance than brushed motors; and a chain speed of 20 meters per second. Plus, the metal bucking spikes help keep the log in place while you saw through it, and the chain is designed to help prevent dangerous kickback (when a saw “catches” on an irregularity in the wood and “kicks back” towards the user).
This is a great chainsaw for anyone looking to get away from the noise and smell of a gas-powered tool or the bother of a corded chainsaw. You still have plenty of power, speed, and control to tackle just about any typical landscape maintenance around your property.
Price at time of publish: $277
Bar Length: 16 inches | Battery Voltage: 56 volts | Tool Weight: 19 pounds | Battery Run Time: Up to 130 cuts | Automatic Oiler: Yes | Battery Included: Yes
BLACK+DECKER LCS1020 20V MAX 10-Inch Cordless Chainsaw
Not for heavy-duty tasks
There’s no need to break your budget for a cordless chainsaw, particularly if you only expect to use it occasionally for light duties around your property. The BLACK+DECKER 20V Max chainsaw comes at a very reasonable price point, but it’s no slouch when getting the job done. The 10-inch bar is more than adequate for pruning or removing shrub or tree branches, and depending on your specifics, it has enough run time to finish most garden tasks. At 7 pounds, it’s easy to maneuver without wearing yourself out.
The chainsaw comes with a 20-volt max lithium battery and charger, along with a scabbard to cover the tool when idle. The chain tension is easy to adjust, with no tools required, and the auto-oiler keeps the chain turning smoothly. For safety, the bar and chain are designed to reduce the risk of kickback, and the front guard helps protect your hands from flying debris. Even if you are new to chainsaws, you should find it easy to effectively wield this tool around your yard.
Price at time of publish: $111
Bar Length: 10 inches | Battery Voltage: 20 volts | Tool Weight: 6.8 pounds | Battery Run Time: Not specified by manufacturer | Automatic Oiler: Yes | Battery Included: Yes
Best Top Handle
Makita XCU08PT 36V 14-Inch Cordless Chainsaw
Variable speed trigger
Plenty of power
Best for experienced users only
Most chainsaws are rear-handled, meaning you grip them from behind the bar. Top-handled chainsaws, however, are designed to be gripped from above the bar, making them more compact and typically lighter. Generally, users of top-handled chainsaws are arborists and others who need to cut branches high in a tree or work in tight quarters. If you are one of those, it’s hard to go wrong with the Makita 36-Volt Top-Handle Chainsaw.
This is a formidable tool for pruning or other work in trees, tall shrubs, or brush. It has a 14-inch bar, high chain speed, torque-boost mode for tackling large branches, and variable speed trigger combined with plenty of power. Certainly, you could use this chainsaw on level ground. Still, a top-handle chainsaw is best for those who already have experience working with chainsaws and expect to use it mostly for removing branches up in a tree.
Price at time of publish: $412
Bar Length: 14 inches | Battery Voltage: 36 volts | Tool Weight: 19 pounds | Battery Run Time: Not specified by manufacturer | Automatic Oiler: Yes | Battery Included: Yes
Best for Yard Work
DEWALT DCCS620P1 20V MAX XR 12-Inch Cordless Chainsaw
Easy to use
Some complaints of leaking oil
If you want a chainsaw that’s ideal for yard work, consider the DEWALT 20-Volt Max XR Cordless Chainsaw's compact size, easy operation, and just-right bar size. No smelly fumes, loud noise, or endless tugs of the starter cord with this chainsaw; the 20-volt lithium-ion battery starts it right up and provides plenty of power for as many as 90 cuts per charge. The 12-inch bar is long enough to tackle most tree limbs or trunks but not so long as to be unwieldy or difficult to use.
At a lightweight 9 pounds, this chainsaw shouldn't tire you out quickly. Also, a brushless motor reduces maintenance needs, an automatic oiler keeps the chain turning smoothly, and tool-free adjustment knobs make it easy to tighten the chain and bar. Plus, the DEWALT 20-Volt Max XR is designed to reduce the risk of dangerous kickback. This just might be your favorite tool for working around the yard when it’s time to prune, clean up after a storm, or even do some light demolition for a DIY carpentry project.
Price at time of publish: $187
Bar Length: 12 inches | Battery Voltage: 20 volts | Tool Weight: 9 pounds | Battery Run Time: Up to 90 cuts | Automatic Oiler: Yes | Battery Included: Yes
Best for Light Tasks
Worx WG322 POWER SHARE 20V 10-Inch Cordless Chainsaw
Easy to use
Not for heavy-duty tasks
A 10-inch bar isn’t big enough for felling large trees, but it’s more than sufficient for pruning smaller branches, cutting small logs, clearing brush, or getting your shrubbery looking its best. And the Worx 20-Volt Cordless Chainsaw is lightweight and compact yet still fast and powerful, with a clean-cutting 10-inch bar and plenty of power and battery runtime. Plus, it isn’t noisy, doesn’t emit harmful and smelly fumes, and starts right up at the press of a button.
Despite the reasonable price, you still get plenty of features, including automatic chain lubrication, an automatic chain-tension system to prevent overtightening, and a fast 12.5 feet-per-second speed. Worx even sells a separate pole-saw attachment that gives you up to 10 feet of reach for pruning high branches.
Price at time of publish: $150
Bar Length: 10 inches | Battery Voltage: 20 volts | Tool Weight: 6.2 pounds | Battery Run Time: Not specified by manufacturer | Automatic Oiler: Yes | Battery Included: Yes
Best for Felling Trees
Greenworks GCS80420 Pro 80V 18-Inch Cordless Chainsaw
Long battery runtime
Steel bucking spikes
If you thought only a gas-powered chainsaw had enough muscle to take down a fairly large tree, then be prepared to be pleasantly surprised by the Greenworks Pro 80-Volt Chainsaw. With its 18-inch bar, 80-volt battery, and powerful motor equivalent to a 42cc gas engine, you can use this chainsaw to tackle even heavy-duty tasks, from felling trees to cutting logs to removing branches to clearing debris after a storm.
When you've fully charged this commercial-grade chainsaw, you can make up to 150 cuts and take advantage of its fast speed, strong torque, and overall power. Sturdy steel bucking spikes hold logs in place while you work; an automatic chain oiling system reduces maintenance, and a brushless motor furnishes long life and superior runtime. Plus, it charges super fast; in as little as 30 minutes, it's ready to go.
Price at time of publish: $263
Bar Length: 18 inches | Battery Voltage: 80 volts | Tool Weight: 11 pounds (w/0 battery) | Battery Run Time: Up to 150 cuts | Automatic Oiler: Yes | Battery Included: Yes
Best for Beginners
Husqvarna 120i 14-Inch Battery Chainsaw
Can set for maximum power or for maximum battery life
Inertia-activated chain brake for safety should saw experience kickback
Few complaints that battery life reduces over time
Never used a chainsaw before? No problem! The Husqvarna 120i is a lightweight battery chainsaw ideal for light yard work such as pruning branches or felling small trees. With a 14-inch bar, 40-volt battery, reasonable weight of 10.8 pounds with the battery in place, and quiet performance, this is a great first chainsaw. Turn it on with a push of the power button, and get to work. If you're felling a tree and need a little more oomph, a push of the button on the keypad gives you maximum power. If you're just trimming branches and shrubs and want the battery to run as long as possible, push the other keypad button for maximum run time.
It's very easy to adjust the chain tension—just lift and turn the control. The chainsaw has a self-oiler to keep your chain running smoothly, and when it's time for an oil refill, the cap flips up for refills without a mess. Should the saw kickback, there's a safety feature that stops the tool immediately. A brushless motor keeps this chainsaw working well without a lot of maintenance or fuss and bother, and its ergonomic design makes it comfortable to use even for long work sessions. All in all, this is a great addition to your garden tool collection.
Price at time of publish: $280
Bar Length: 14 inches | Battery Voltage: 40 volts | Tool Weight: 10.8 pounds | Battery Run Time: Not specified by manufacturer | Automatic Oiler: Yes | Battery Included: Yes
Best for Cutting Firewood
Ryobi RY40530 40V 14-Inch Cordless Chainsaw
Some complaints about battery life
Keep your fireplace logs coming all winter long with the 14-inch-bar Ryobi 40-Volt Cordless Chainsaw. It has loads of power, high speed, and enough torque to chew through about any log you throw its way. Of course, you can use it for more than cutting firewood: felling small trees, cleaning up brush, pruning branches, or even tackling small-demolition DIY projects. And you can do it all without the smell, noise, and fuss of an equivalent gas-powered tool.
A brushless motor extends the chainsaw's life and runtime, and you take advantage of all the extras you expect from a Ryobi tool, including the automatic-oiling chain, easily adjusted chain and bar tension, and a reasonably fast charging time. This is a great chainsaw for anyone who regularly cuts firewood and demands reliable, powerful performance.
Price at time of publish: $160
Bar Length: 14 inches | Battery Voltage: 40 volts | Tool Weight: 11.5 pounds | Battery Run Time: Not listed | Automatic Oiler: Yes | Battery Included: Yes
Best for Pruning
Milwaukee 2527-21 M12 FUEL HATCHET 6-Inch Pruning Saw
Powerful for its size
Good battery runtime
Maybe you have no plans or need to cut firewood, fell trees, or clear brush, but you do have a yard full of shrubs and trees that require regular pruning, and you’d like an easier method than using manual loppers. If so, then you’ll love the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet Pruning Saw. Its 6-inch bar, 12-volt battery, and brushless motor combine to make quick work of pruning tasks, including hardwood branches up to 3 inches in diameter.
While the bar is short, the chainsaw still boasts plenty of big features. The battery allows you to make up to 120 cuts per charge in 2-inch oak. You also get an automatic oiler, an easily accessed knob for adjusting chain tension, and even metal bucking spikes to keep branches steady while you cut. The compact size and light weight of this pruning saw make it easy to maneuver, so you only clip the branches you aim for. It’s an excellent addition to the toolshed of any avid gardener.
Price at time of publish: $229
Bar Length: 6 inches | Battery Voltage: 12 volts | Tool Weight: 4 pounds | Battery Run Time: Up to 120 cuts | Automatic Oiler: Yes | Battery Included: Yes
Best Pole Saw
DEWALT DCPS620M1 20V MAX XR 8-Inch Pole Saw
Perfect for pruning high branches
Adjustable extension pole
Short reach feet, some say
A pole saw is basically a miniature chainsaw on an extension pole, allowing you to prune branches high in a tree while you remain safely on the ground. If you have a heavily wooded property or just like to keep things tidy on the trees in your garden, consider the power and performance of the DEWALT 20-Volt Max SR Pole Saw. Its 8-inch bar and 10-foot extension pole give you up to 15 feet of reach, making it a breeze to prune tall trees and shrubs.
This pole saw has an automatic oiler, a low-kickback design, a hook that makes it easy to retrieve branches once you’ve cut them, and a brushless motor for long runtimes without a lot of maintenance. The 20-volt battery has enough oomph to fuel up to 96 cuts before needing a recharge. The balanced design and comfortable handle make the tool easy to wield and maneuver without too much stress or strain.
Price at time of publish: $219
Bar Length: 8 inches | Battery Voltage: 20 volts | Tool Weight: 10 pounds | Battery Run Time: Up to 96 cuts | Automatic Oiler: Yes | Battery Included: Yes
If you want a chainsaw with enough power to tackle anything you’re likely to ask of it yet still easy to use, then it’s hard to go wrong with the EGO Power+ 56-volt 16-inch battery chainsaw. But if budget is a concern, and you only need a chainsaw for light tasks, then take a look at the BLACK+DECKER 20-volt 10-inch battery chainsaw.
What to Look for in a Battery Chainsaw
Technology has produced batteries capable of providing considerable power. So no need to fear that swapping your gas or corded-electric chainsaw for a battery-powered model means trading the ability to carry out all the usual tasks you expect of these tools.
Generally, a cordless chainsaw runs on one 20-volt lithium-ion battery. (Heavy-duty chainsaws use 40-volt or even 80-volt batteries.) Some chainsaws combine batteries for extra power, but typically, the tool uses one battery at a time. It’s useful to own two batteries, so one lives in the saw while the other charges, thus doubling your available work time.
Charging time is another consideration. Lithium-ion batteries charge fairly quickly, but different brands of chainsaws have varying charging times, ranging from as little as 30 minutes to as much as a few hours. So keep that in mind when choosing your cordless chainsaw.
Battery life is one of the biggest considerations when choosing a cordless chainsaw. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult numbers to pin down, as battery life and battery runtime depend highly on the demands placed on the chainsaw. If you use the tool for light pruning, the battery should run quite a bit longer than if you muscle your way through a large tree trunk. Still, you should expect roughly 20 to 40 minutes of runtime if you use the tool intermittently to prune or cut small to medium logs or branches.
Many manufacturers define runtime in terms of how many cuts the chainsaw can make on one fully charged battery. This is the number of cuts on a 4x4 piece of wood, not a large log. Depending on the chainsaw, you might get anywhere from 50 to 100-plus cuts before needing to recharge the battery.
Don’t assume that the bigger the bar, the better. A longer bar allows you to tackle larger logs, but a shorter bar is easier to control. Ideally, match the length of your chainsaw bar to the average size of the expected cuts. Generally, you can easily cut through a log with a diameter two inches less than the length of your chainsaw bar. So, for example, a 12-inch chainsaw can easily handle branches up to 10 inches in diameter. (Of course, by cutting first from one side and then from the other, you can cut larger pieces of wood.)
For most homeowners, a chainsaw with a bar from 10 to 14 inches is the sweet spot; that’s long enough to prune or cut most tree branches or logs but short enough to manage, even by someone fairly new to using a chainsaw. However, you expect to be cutting down trees or splitting large logs, opt for a chainsaw sporting a 14-to-18-inch bar. If you need a chainsaw only for light pruning around the yard, an 8-to-10-inch bar is sufficient.
Automatic Oiling System
As the chainsaw spins the chain around the bar, a lot of heat and friction build-up. Without near-constant oiling, the friction creates drag and eventually can break the chain. That’s why all chainsaws require oiling the chain as you work. Luckily, most chainsaws have an automatic oiling system. This handy feature lets you work steadily without frequent oil breaks between cuts. Chainsaws without this feature usually require you to press a button to dispense oil onto the chain between cuts.
Tool-less Chain Tension Adjustment
Chainsaw chains tend to loosen over time due to stretching. A loose chain reduces tool efficiency, and if the chain becomes too loose, it can slip off the bar, which is a potential safety hazard. That’s why it’s necessary to periodically tighten the chain. Some chainsaws require using a tool to tighten the knob that maintains chain tension. It's more convenient to choose a chainsaw that allows you to adjust the chain tension by hand.
Are battery chainsaws as good as gas chainsaws?
There’s no denying that gas chainsaws have the edge when it comes to ultimate power and runtime. Plus, you’ll find gas-powered chainsaws with bars as long as several feet, while battery chainsaws top out at 18 inches.
Still, unless you’re a professional lumberjack, chances are you can accomplish anything with a battery chainsaw you can do with a gas chainsaw, including felling trees, splitting logs, cutting firewood, pruning, and light demolition. Plus, you don’t have to contend with stinky fumes, super-loud noise, or environmental concerns.
How do you use a battery chainsaw?
Battery-powered or cordless chainsaws have a lot of advantages over their gas-powered counterparts: no smelly fumes, less noise, and no yanking of a starter cord to power up the tool. Still, as with all chainsaws, you need to remain alert and cautious while the chainsaw is in use. You also should be completely familiar with all of the manufacturer’s safety recommendations, as well as general chainsaw safety recommendations.
While the use of a cordless chainsaw can vary from brand to brand, the following guidelines are helpful for most of them:
- Never use a chainsaw when you are tired, not feeling well, or under the influence of any substance that might impair your reflexes, balance, or judgment.
- Before using your chainsaw, don protective gear. At a minimum, you should wear eye protection, work gloves, long pants, and shoes with sturdy tread, so you are in no danger of slipping.
- Check the chain tension before starting work and periodically as you work. The manufacturer’s guide gives specific instructions on how to do this. Most position a tension-adjustment knob on the side near the handle.
- Stand with legs hip-width apart on a flat, dry surface. Position your dominant hand on the handle towards the rear of the chainsaw. Your other hand should hold the upper handle.
- Disengage the chain safety lock and push the start button.
- Cut at around waist level. Keep your running chainsaw away from the ground, as contact of the bar with the ground can cause kickback. Don’t use a chainsaw to cut high above your head.
- Stand slightly to the side of the chainsaw as you work.
- Cut with the center of the bar, not the tip.
- Never force or push hard on the chainsaw; let the chainsaw do the work. You should hold the bar against the log firmly but not forcefully.
- Once you are finished working, turn the chainsaw off and re-engage the chain safety lock. Let the chainsaw cool down before you touch the bar or chain, as these can become quite hot due to friction.
How long does a battery chainsaw last?
While today’s power-tool batteries last much longer than those from even a few years ago, there is no easy answer to how long you can expect your battery chainsaw to run before you need to recharge. You can expect anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour of runtime, but the actual time depends greatly on the hardness of the wood you are cutting, the diameter of the log, and whether you run the saw continuously or intermittently.
How do you sharpen a battery chainsaw?
A dull chainsaw is an unsafe chainsaw. Once the chain loses its edge, it is likelier to skip or veer while in use, potentially with disastrous results. You know the chain is dull when the saw cuts slowly, drifts to the side rather than cuts in a straight line, or produces fine sawdust rather than chunky grit.
To sharpen a chainsaw, you need a sharpening kit containing a round file, a flat file, and a depth gauge. Round files come in different sizes, so check the owner’s manual to find the right size for your specific tool.
It’s not difficult to sharpen a chainsaw, although it is a bit tedious. Here are the basics:
- Remove the battery. Engage the chain brake.
- Clamp the bar of the chainsaw in a workbench vise.
- If necessary, tighten the chain by turning the tension-adjusting screw. This prevents the chain from turning while you work.
- Wipe away grit and dirt with a wire brush.
- Marking one of the chain’s teeth with a marker or crayon helps you keep track of your full rotation around the chain.
- Set the file in the notch directly behind the marked tooth. The file should be at a slight angle, pointing away from the chainsaw’s motor.
- Stroke the file through the notch several times until the metal is silvery and appears sharp. Don’t saw the file back and forth; stroke in one direction only.
- Skip the next tooth and insert your file into the second notch; sharpen every other tooth this go-around.
- Hold your file at the same angle and make the same number of strokes as you did on the first tooth.
- Continue around the chain in this manner until you return to your starting point.
- Flip the chainsaw over, and re-clamp it to your workbench vise.
- Using the same technique, sharpen the remaining teeth, moving to every other tooth until you return to your starting point.
- Next, check the depth-gauge rakers (the small, slightly rounded points located before each tooth on the chain). Place the depth gauge tool that came with your sharpening kit over each raker in turn. If the raker sticks up above the depth gauge tool, use the flat file included with your sharpening kit to file the raker level with the depth gauge tool.
- Work your way around the chain, filing any too-tall rakers.
- Brush away any metal dust or scrapings.
- Unclamp your chainsaw and reset the chain tension to your usual tightness.
For more comprehensive instructions, read our guide to sharpening a chainsaw.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article is edited and updated by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience writing about all things related to the home and carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs.
She considered dozens of chainsaws for this roundup, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and customer comments. She also received advice and suggestions from Dan Morris, owner of chainsaw website Fire and Saw.