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Should I buy a cordless chainsaw?

By Adelaide Gray

Cordless chainsaw are the ultimate in convenience, but they're very expensive. Find out if they're still worth considering.

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Is a cordless chainsaw right for me?

Cordless chainsaws are ideal if you want to work among branches, as they don't have a trailing cable and are generally quite light and compact. They're less tiring to use and easier to manoeuvre than other types. It’s still worth testing one out before you buy to check it has enough battery power and will run for long enough for your jobs. 

Improvements in battery-powered garden tools mean that cordless models are now a real option if you've looking for a domestic chainsaw.

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

However, cordless models can be very expensive. Some 36V models are more expensive than petrol versions. In our tests, a lot of cordless chainsaws didn't cut as well as corded electric or petrol models, but, if you're willing to pay more than £200, there are some that are worth considering.

Pros: Lighter, easier to maintain and quieter than petrol chainsaws, no need to be plugged into a power source

Cons: The battery may not give you a lot of run time and they're very expensive

Bosch and Stihl both make cordless chainsaws. Find out what our members think of these brands in our Best chainsaws brands guide.

Which cordless chainsaw should I buy?

Most corded electric chainsaws come with an 18V or 36V battery. The more powerful batteries will give you more cutting time but will cost more. Stihl, Bosch and Black & Decker make cordless machines. Find out what Which? members think of these brands in Best chainsaw brands.

How do they work?

Cordless chainsaws are battery-powered. The battery powers the motor and 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.

Chainsaw batteries are powerful and can take a while to charge; between 30 minutes to over two hours is quite usual. They are quite expensive and often cost almost as much as the body of the machine itself. However a lot of manufacturers including Stihl, Ryobi, Bosch and Makita have batteries that can be used with other garden tools from that brand so, if you kep to one brand,  you'll only have to buy one battery for most of your garden tools. If you use your cordless chainsaw a lot, it might be worth buying a second batttery so that you don't have to stop working while it charges. 

The 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 come with these as standard, but it’s worth checking before you buy.

Batteries and Chargers

Manufacturers often have one or two standard batteries and chargers that can be used with a wide range of tools. Before you buy check to see if any of your existing tools has a battery and charger that can be used with the tool you are planning to purchase as this could save you a considerable amount of money.  

As some people may already own a compatible battery and charger, these are sometimes not included in the price quoted for your tool, so check the small print before you buy.

Alternatively, you may see it as a good chance to buy a second battery for your tools. Batteries are sometimes cheaper when bought with a tool, and it’s often useful to have a second one charged and ready to go when you’re carrying out jobs that will take some time to finish.

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