Husqvarna 120i Review
Pros: Spectacular battery life, two chain speed settings, barely consumes bar and chain oil
Cons: Not the strongest cutting power, plastic chain tensioning system, electronic controls slow down sawing
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Our Analysis and Test Results
For those who aren't in a rush, this saw offers some awesome elements — it is one of the quieter saws that we've reviewed, and its battery score is great. When it comes to runtime it is one of the best, and this time is extended even longer when "savE" mode is turned on, which lowers the chain speed for lighter duty tasks. Falling near the middle of the group for the price, but closer to the top for overall score, the Husqvarna 120i is the right option for those who want a decent cordless chainsaw without emptying out their wallet. It is not the strongest when it comes to cutting power, but it most certainly gets the job done after a few extra seconds. It also has a control system that is not our favorite and can add even more time to getting your project completed.
We placed a weight of 35% of our total score for the Husqvarna on saw performance. We paid specific attention to how the saw felt compared to others in the review while cutting through roughly 10" diameter wet pine logs. Because the 120i has two different settings — normal — and "savE" mode — we compared how it performed differently in each mode. We also timed some cuts using dry dimensional lumber to get an average to be compared with other models.
When it comes to performance, the Husqvarna is not quite leading the pack. With an average cutting time of 13.5 seconds during our time trials, it's just about in the middle of the road compared to other models. Although it doesn't make the quickest cuts, it does feel strong and solid when in use.
In "savE" mode we didn't sense much of a difference between cuts using dry, small rounds of wood when compared to normal mode. However normal mode showed increased cutting power when we used the 120i on larger, heavier logs.
Ease of Use
A huge benefit to using cordless tools rather than corded or gas-powered versions is their comparatively better ease of use, which is why it accounts for 30% of our total score. To set a score for this metric we measured the total dimensions of each saw and used a hanging scale to record a total weight, with the battery attached. Other variables in this metric were more based on subjective judgment and based on ergonomics. We also took a close look at each models' chain tensioning system to conclude which saws are the most painless to change or tighten the chain. Lastly, we attentively looked at what steps are taken to get the saw cutting from being completely turned off to evaluate which ones are quick and straightforward to operate.
The 120i is not the easiest to use. The saw comes equipped with a chain brake, a safety switch on the side of the handle, and a standard trigger. On top of the three switches just mentioned Husqvarna has opted to add an additional electronic switch that, in our opinion, is a bit of a useless feature. Because there are already three different steps to starting the saw we don't think this button is a necessary addition to the model. One small hiccup we found while using the 120i is if you lean on it hard enough to get it to stall, the electronic controls turn off so you have to repeat the startup process to get going again. Also, the tool-free chain tensioning system is not the most intuitive to use, and the lever is made out of plastic which is not ideal considering how much abuse chainsaws generally take.
It should be noted that the Husqvarna is lighter than many saws in our review, so if you want to give your arms a break from constant lifting while not trading off much in the way of other features, this model is a good bet.
Battery quality is clearly an important factor to consider when reviewing cordless tools, so we weighted this metric at 25% of our total score. Our battery scores are a combination of the results from two different tests — runtime and charge time. To measure runtime we mounted each saw to a custom-built table and used utility clips to engage each throttle. We timed each runtime under no load, other than the chain, and were careful to stop the throttle as well as the timer every time the saw needed bar and chain oil. To measure charge time we patiently sat next to the chargers with a stopwatch.
When it comes to battery life the Husqvarna 120i is one of the best. In its normal mode, the battery runs for a full 40 minutes at full throttle with no load. Once switched to "savE" mode it lasts 54 minutes giving it one of the longest-lasting batteries of any cordless chainsaw that we've ever tested.
It takes 2 hours to charge which is not the quickest time that we've seen, but it also is not the slowest. We think that a little extra time to charge is no problem when you consider the added runtime and optional settings.
Noise is not the most important factor to consider when purchasing a cordless chainsaw because all chainsaws are noisy, regardless of whether it's electric or gas-powered due to the spinning of the chain and the tearing of wood. However, we understand that many folks are looking to purchase a cordless chainsaw for home use and may live in a suburban or urban area and are not looking to disturb their neighbors, so we dedicated the final 10% of our score to this metric.
To nail down numbers for noise we had a panel of judges stand at a distance of 50 feet from the running saw and decide whether or not any of the saws were especially harsh to listen to. We determined that this model was not especially annoying or whiny. Next, we measured the noise of each saw while running at full power using a sound meter.
During our noise testing, the Husqvarna scored very well. This model is far from annoying when compared to others, and it only registers 85.9 decibels on the sound meter.
With a price tag as low as the 120is you might expect that this tool does not perform as well as the others — this is not the case. The Husqvarna outperforms most of the competition and, in many cases, at a fraction of the cost. If you're looking for a great product that won't leave you penniless we suggest you go with the 120i.
This tool has a handful of features that set it apart from many other models. It's light, it's quiet, and the battery life is superb. Best of all it comes at a price that is affordable and reasonable. If you want a great cordless chainsaw and you don't want to empty out your wallet the Husqvarna 120i is the model for you.
— Ross Patton