Gas vs Electric Chainsaw: Which is Better?

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When it comes to handling a wide range of cutting tasks, a dependable chainsaw can make all the difference. The decision to invest in a chainsaw is a straightforward one, but the choice between an electric or gas-powered model can present a more complex dilemma.

Whether you’re a novice looking for your first chainsaw or a professional seeking the right tool for the job, the decision-making process can be quite challenging. But, I’m here to provide you with the guidance you need to ensure that your investment in a cutting tool is a well-informed one.

Gas Chainsaws

Admit it or not, cutting large trees is a heavy-duty job more suited for a gas-powered chainsaw. If you’ve been doing DIY projects for the longest time, you’ll notice that gas-powered units are preferred by professional chainsaw users like loggers and landscapers.

orange gas chainsaw

Given that it has a little more power than corded electric chainsaws, it’s not surprising that it can last extended periods of cutting operations. It can cut large trees and fences, so it’s a recommended tool for medium to large properties or lawns.

Pros and Cons

What I Like

What I Don't Like

What is a Gas Chainsaw Used For?

As previously mentioned, gas-powered chainsaws are suitable for extensive lawn area as it operates to mix oil and gas. Unlike a corded electric chainsaw, its mobility isn’t limited because it doesn’t require a power outlet or battery life to run. 

If you intend to get rid of big trees on the property, a powerful gas engine can withstand any implications from heavy-duty cutting operations. Most gas-powered chainsaws in the market such as from the Poulan brand also have up to 72 inches guide bar variations, capable of cutting thick materials that you want to get rid of in your yard. 

And because a gas chainsaw operates faster than an electric saw, you also wouldn’t encounter many problems when slicing thick firewood or pruning. 

Electric Chainsaws

The main difference between electric and gas chainsaws is the reality that electric models aren’t limited by fuel or oil levels. Unlike a gas model, an electrical chainsaw is a more energy-efficient option because its engine does not carry or emit oil fumes. 

electric chainsaw

Despite having less power than their gas-powered counterparts, electric chainsaws offer the convenience of starting with just one button push. They also eliminate the need for extensive maintenance routines, thanks to their user-friendly features. 

Pros and Cons

What I Like

What i don't Like

Chainsaws produced by Black Max also have a light construction.

What is an Electric Chainsaw Used For?

If you’re cutting small logs along a tiny yard, a corded electric model is a more practical choice than a gas chainsaw. Besides the obvious lower cost range advantage, this saw has a light construction. It means that you can easily carry electric chainsaws to work on trimming limbs and other small jobs.

Comparing Gas and Electric Chainsaws

Noise and Emission

It’s not a secret that a chainsaw engine can produce potentially harmful gas emissions [1]. Unfortunately, gas chainsaws are designed to emit chainsaw smoke from their fuel power source. Because of this, electric tools like corded saws are preferred by many environment enthusiasts. 

On top of that, an electric chainsaw has a quieter motor operation than the powerful engine equipped on a gas chainsaw. 

orange gas chainsaw and blue electric chainsaw

When it comes to comparing electric and gas chainsaws in terms of noise production, it’s quite fascinating to note that gas-powered chainsaws can generate noise levels akin to a thunderclap. As an expert in the field of lawn care, I highly recommend using ear protection when operating a gas chainsaw to safeguard your hearing from potential damage.

So if you don’t have any hearing protection and you’re just tending to a small yard, it’s more advisable to go for electric or battery-powered chainsaws. 

Runtime

Selecting the saw with superior longevity in the electric vs. gas chainsaw comparison isn’t a challenging decision. Based on experience, it’s evident that a gas-powered chainsaw has a finite operating time due to its dependence on fuel. To ensure continuous cutting operations over an extended period, it becomes imperative to have a fuel refill readily available.

On a lighter note, electric cutting tools have an unlimited runtime for as long as the machine is connected to an electric power source. 

operating an electric chainsaw on a log

However, remember that electric chainsaws often have less power production than gas alternatives. Because of that, a gas-operated saw may get the job done faster than its electric alternative. 

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Other Key Differences to Know

Portability is one of the main considerations when comparing electric vs. gas chainsaws. As a newbie, you may not know that most gas chainsaws on the market are designed for heavy construction. On the other hand, electric chainsaws are often lighter and easier to handle when dealing with overhead cutting tasks.

Another important feature to tackle is its maintenance frequency. As electric chainsaws do not run with fuel, you don’t need to check their filter or refill their tank with fresh oil. 

Contrary to that, a gas chainsaw may need component replacement from time to time. If you’re not familiar with troubleshooting its chain and engine (see: troubleshooting a Poulan Chainsaw), most resident landscapers urge users to consider electric or battery chainsaws. 

Which Type of Chainsaw is Better For You?

As you compare electric vs. gas chainsaws, it’s crucial to consider what tasks you intend to tackle. If you want to cut down trees or get rid of thick lumber, you’ll need a cutting tool with a powerful engine like gas saws. It’s also the go-to cutting machine for handling medium to large properties as power cords do not restrict it.

person operating an electric chainsaw

However, fuel-powered models aren’t exactly great for overhead cutting operations. You may not know, but these chainsaws are quite heavy because of their motor components. For these types of tasks, electric saws are still more convenient. 

Have You Considered a Battery-Powered Chainsaw?

You might want to consider battery-operated chainsaws as it’s a more environmentally friendly alternative to their gas-powered counterparts.

It’s also an electric-type saw, but it doesn’t need a corded power source to run. As long as you charge the battery long enough, you will not deal with issues (e.g. chainsaw refusing to start). These machines can assist you until the end of your cutting operations. 

However, corded saws provide more power than battery chainsaws. In fact, among the three chainsaws running with batteries have the least runtime and power capacities. 

FAQ

Do electric chainsaws have more torque?

No, electric chainsaws do not have more torque than fuel-powered cutting machines. Generally, chainsaws that run with fuel have bigger engines capable of cutting any thick material. On the other hand, corded models only rely on internal components and direct electricity that provides less power.  

Can an electric chainsaw cut down a tree?

Yes, an electric chainsaw can cut down a tree. However, using fuel-powered saws is the most viable option if dealing with thick lumber (e.g. 5/4 lumber). Cutting down large trees and firewood isn’t the best task corded and battery-powered tools can tackle. It’s wiser to use these machines for trimming and smaller lawn tasks. 

Conclusion

After comparing electric and gas chainsaws, it becomes apparent that these two tools, while sharing a common purpose, excel in distinct scenarios. From my extensive experience in using and maintaining these chainsaws, I can confidently assert that, when handled proficiently, either of these options will effectively meet your cutting requirements over the long term.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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