Should I buy a corded electric chainsaw?


Should I buy a corded electric chainsaw?

by Adelaide Gray

As well as cutting quickly and cleanly, corded electric chainsaws are generally much easier to use than petrol models. Find out whether one would suit you.

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Is a corded electric chainsaw right for me?

Corded electric chainsaws are the cheapest models you can buy. They are ideal if you’re sawing logs or pruning close to the house and can plug the cable straight into a mains socket. Often the power cable is quite short, so if you're chopping logs at the end of your garden you may need to use an extension cable and residual current device (RCD), which cuts off the power if the cable is cut.  

Our tests have shown that there’s little difference in cutting performance between a good electric chainsaw and a small petrol machine. For domestic use, corded electric models are just as capable at cutting logs as petrol ones. However, if you've got heavier tasks or need to use a chainsaw frequently, then a petrol machine would be a better choice.

A corded electric chainsaw should be much easier to use than a petrol machine.

Corded electric chainsaws aren't much lighter than petrol chainsaws, and they also have the motor protruding from the left-hand side, which can make them feel bulky and unbalanced to use. 

Consider how you would use a chainsaw for different jobs. Pruning branches would involve making single cuts with rests in between; chopping logs would be a series of vertical cuts in a continual motion. Gauge whether you feel you could comfortably bear its weight to complete these tasks.

Corded electric chainsaws are easier to maintain than petrol models, and there is no messy fuel or overpowering fumes to contend with. They’re also quieter to run, so are less likely to annoy the neighbours.

Pros: Much easier to use than petrol chainsaws, great for chopping logs, easier to maintain and quieter than petrol chainsaws

Cons: Bulky motor and cable can make them awkward to handle, tend to lack the power of petrol machines, need to be plugged into a power source

Which corded electric chainsaw should I buy?

Most corded electric chainsaws are either 1,800W or 2,000W and have a guide bar of 35cm or 40cm in length. Both are effective for cutting tasks around the garden: a 40cm guide bar can cut thicker logs than a 35cm one, and a 2,000W model will cut more quickly than 1,800W.

Bosch and Black & Decker both sell a range of corded electric chainsaws. Find out what Which? members think of chainsaws from these brands in our best chainsaw brands guide.

How does a corded electric chainsaw work?

Corded electric chainsaws are mains-powered and come with a power cable attached.

An electric-powered motor drives a metal chain, with lots of cutting ‘teeth’, at high speed around an oblong-shaped guide bar. As the spinning chain makes contact with a log or tree trunk, its teeth are dragged along the surface, cutting the wood. The circular motion of the chain keeps the bottom teeth in contact with the wood, so the saw keeps slicing until it has cut all the way through or the power is stopped.

The motor doesn't need maintenance in the same way as a petrol engine, but this does mean that if it fails, there is less chance of a simple repair.

The chainsaw chain needs lubricating with specialist oil to ensure it runs smoothly and doesn’t snag. Look for a chainsaw with an integrated oil chamber that supplies this oil automatically, as this will save you time and hassle; most models have these as standard, but it’s worth checking before you buy.

Any corded electric chainsaw can be a useful tool if you’ve got a lot of wood to cut, but they can also be dangerous and cause serious injury, so always wear full safety gear when using them.