Which? tests reveal whether electric or petrol chainsaws are bestFrom chopping to pruning – the results are in

11 November 2011

A recent Which? test of electric, cordless and petrol chainsaws answers the question of which option is best for chopping logs and pruning in the garden. Plus, four Best Buys are revealed 

When it comes to cutting wood, petrol chainsaws are often considered the only tool for the job. They will slice through logs faster than any other machine and you can use them anywhere in the garden without the hassle of a trailing power cable. But they have drawbacks: they’re expensive, heavy, noisy and give off powerful fumes. They also need regular servicing. 

In contrast, electric chainsaws are cheaper, quieter, lighter to manoeuvre and easier to maintain. However, popular opinion is that they’re less powerful than petrol models, and aren’t as good at chopping logs. 

Electric vs petrol

We compared all of the top chainsaw brands, including Stihl, Husqvarna, Bosch and Ryobi, and our tests reveal that electric chainsaws are just as good at cutting wood as a similar-sized petrol chainsaw. Plus they’re easier to work with.

To see the results in full visit our chainsaws review.

Petrol models still have the edge when it comes to larger logs – they cut a lot faster. We also discovered that cordless chainsaws aren’t powerful enough to cut large logs and the battery doesn’t last long before it needs recharging. 

We tested each machine on how quickly and cleanly it cuts through stems, branches, logs, hard wood and a railway sleeper, and found that the electric chainsaws measured up to the petrol ones. Click here to find out more about how we test chainsaws.

The best chainsaws

Our tests uncovered four Best Buys: two electric and two petrol machines. All cut branches and logs quickly and cleanly and are easier to use than other models available. So, whether you’re looking to chop large logs for firewood or you want a tool to tackle heavy pruning in the garden, we’ve got a Best Buy to recommend. 

We tested the following chainsaws.

Cordless chainsaws:

Bosch AKE 30 34Li
Ryobi RCS36

Electric chainsaws:

Bosch AKE 40-19 S
Challenge Xtreme 1800W
Makita UC3520A
Ryobi RCS1835
Worx 2000W

Petrol chainsaws:

Husqvarna 236
Qualcast QG-PT3043 46cc
Ryobi RCS4040CB
Spear & Jackson SPJS 3740 37cc
Stihl MS 170 D
Stihl MS 181


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