Stihl vs. Husqvarna Chainsaws: A Comparison

Learn the differences between these top chainsaw brands.

Stihl chainsaw

skudex / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Two of the most popular chainsaw brands are Stihl and Husqvarna, so if you are looking for a new chainsaw to buy to help manage the yard or cut down trees, then it's likely that you will settle on one of these two brands. However, deciding between a Stihl vs. Husqvarna chainsaw isn't easy because both brands have pros and cons when compared to their competitors. Even professionals take the time to inspect and research the various product specs instead of defaulting to Stihl or Husqvarna, which should indicate the close comparison between these two companies. Take a look at this comprehensive piece comparing Stihl vs. Husqvarna chainsaws so that you have all the information you need to make a decision for yourself.

Warning

Approximately 36,000 chainsaw-related injuries requiring emergency care occur annually, according to the CDC. Use extreme caution and follow all safety procedures when operating a chainsaw. Learn how to use the chainsaw properly before getting started.

Brands

Both Stihl and Husqvarna are very popular chainsaw brands that have been manufacturing chainsaws for well over 50 years. Stihl was founded in 1926 just outside Stuttgart, Germany, in the town of Waiblingen, where the company headquarters still remain. The founder of Stihl, Andreas Stihl, also invented the single-person powered chainsaw which came to replace the two-man saw that had been previously used by professionals.

While Stihl has an amazing reputation, especially when it comes to chainsaws, Husqvarna isn't a standard company, either. In fact, Husqvarna is known as the world's largest and oldest manufacturer of power tools, having been in business since 1689. The company was established in Sweden as a musket manufacturer and they began manufacturing chainsaws in 1959, quickly becoming one of the more popular chainsaw manufacturers worldwide, alongside Stihl.

Stihl vs. Husqvarna

Stihl
  • Better low-end torque for tough cutting

  • Reduced weight for less user fatigue

  • Lower price

  • Less routine maintenance required

  • Preferred by homeowners

Husqvarna
  • Cuts faster than Stihl chainsaws

  • Easy to find and purchase online

  • Larger fuel tanks for less time spent refueling

  • Lower exhaust emissions and higher fuel-efficiency

  • Preferred by professionals

Torque

The torque of a chainsaw is crucial for understanding the type of wood, trees, and brush the saw is useful for cutting. Stihl chainsaws tend to have a powerful low-end torque that allows them to cut through tough wood and knots without getting stuck or stalling. Husqvarna chainsaws don't have the same low-end torque, but they do have a more powerful high-end torque that helps improve cutting speed and efficiency when you are making clean cuts.

Generally, Stihl chainsaws are great for tough, dense wood and brush, though they may not be as quick as Husqvarna chainsaws. However, Husqvarna saws are not as effective at cutting through knots and tree joints, despite a higher cutting speed. Just keep in mind that these are broad brand comparisons and individual products can differ, so always take the time to research the specific tool before deciding on the right saw.

Weight

The weight of the chainsaws is relatively even when they are initially compared, but Husqvarna saws are known for having larger fuel tanks. Due to this difference, when a Husqvarna chainsaw is fully fueled and ready for use, it weighs more than a Stihl chainsaw, resulting in increased user fatigue. With this in mind, Stihl chainsaws are a better option for smaller users or users that have reduced strength or mobility.

Fuel Capacity

It seems obvious to choose a tool with a higher fuel capacity, but there are drawbacks to larger fuel tanks, like the increased weight on the user. Additionally, if you don't have a lot of trees to maintain, then a larger fuel capacity doesn't come with any benefits because you would finish the work without needing to refuel regardless of the size of the tank.

A small fuel capacity isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that you will need to refill the fuel tank more often, increasing the amount of time it takes to complete the job. While a larger tank causes fatigue by increasing the weight, a small tank can also cause fatigue by extending the time it takes to complete the work. As mentioned previously, Husqvarna chainsaws typically have larger fuel tanks than Stihl chainsaws, so a Husqvarna saw is the right choice if you want to get through the job quickly without worrying about refueling, but a Stihl saw is better for smaller properties and users who don't mind stopping to refill the tank.

Fuel Efficiency and Emissions

A benefit that Husqvarna chainsaws have over most Stihl chainsaws is that they tend to have better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, making Husqvarna saws a better choice for environmentally conscious users. The increased fuel efficiency also reduces the time spent refilling the gas tank and lowers the overall cost of fuel.

Maintenance

Due to the potential danger of using a chainsaw, maintaining the chainsaw by making repairs, sharpening the chain, cleaning the fuel tank, or oiling the chain is important and necessary for ensuring that the tool continues to work properly, reducing the risk of part failure during use. In general, Husqvarna chainsaws tend to require more frequent maintenance than Stihl chainsaws, widely attributed to superior Stihl engineering.

For DIYers and professionals who usually complete brief tool checks before and after use with more substantial maintenance at scheduled intervals, Stihl chainsaws are the best choice because the time between maintenance intervals is longer. However, this consideration doesn't apply to users who routinely check and perform maintenance on their chainsaws every time they use the tool. Also, certain tools can reduce maintenance time, like electric chainsaw sharpeners.

Price and Availability

One of the more interesting aspects of Stihl as a company is that it is privately owned instead of being publically traded, like many large companies. This allows Stihl to control its products, price, and availability with limited outside influence. Stihl has used this control to only partner with recognized dealers and keep prices lower than that of Husqvarna chainsaws. However, by only selling their products through specific retailers, the availability of Stihl chainsaws is significantly reduced, especially when it comes to online purchases.

If you don't like going to smaller retailers or brick-and-mortar stores, then Stihl may not be the best option. Husqvarna products are widely available from online retailers and even several big-box stores, though they come at a higher price.

Which Should You Buy?

Individual preferences range widely when it comes to choosing tools. Despite the increased price, weight, and maintenance requirements, some people prefer Husqvarna because they want powerful, heavy tools that have no trouble cutting through wood. In contrast, others like to use Stihl products because they are looking for a relatively lightweight chainsaw that is easy to maintain and effective at managing the trees on their property.

There are clear differences between these top brands that have been summarized above to help make it easier to choose. Everyone's experience is different depending on their specific needs and demands, so only you can decide between Stihl and Husqvarna for your chainsaw needs.  

Article Sources
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  1. Preventing Chain Saw Injuries During Tree Removal After a Disaster. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention