Looking to purchase a cordless electric chainsaw in 2020? To determine which saw is truly the best we bought 9 of the highest-ranked models for a hands-on, side-by-side comparison. We formulated a comprehensive series of experiments and tests to find out which of these tools displayed the best sawing performance, user-friendliness, battery life, and how much noise each model produced. We then took every model to the wood yard to get a feel for them in a real-world environment. After weeks of testing, it became clear which saws were able to cut the competition down.
The Best Cordless Electric Chainsaws of 2020
Best of the Best
The ECHO CCS-58V4AH earns our coveted Editors' Choice Award. The model is as easily operated as any other, and the battery is simple to change with one hand. The oil tank has a clear window so you can freely observe the level, and the cap has tabs to help with leverage while you're wearing gloves. It has a strong battery life, an ergonomic rubber handle, and a safety switch that ensures the saw will never start unless the operator is fully ready. When it comes to cutting performance, the Echo cuts like a hot knife through butter. During our dimensional woodcutting tests, this saw was simply unmatched. Once we were able to get this model to the wood yard and really tear into some pine logs we fell in love with the high level of execution. This saw makes cuts more than twice as fast as most of the competition, which is the primary reason why the Echo has landed at the top of our list.
The Echo is not without its flaws. It is one of the heaviest chainsaws in our review and it also has a wrench that is a bit difficult to remove from the body if you don't have something to pry it out with. That being said we believe these small cons don't outweigh its amazing overall operation.
Read review: ECHO CCS-58V4AH
Best for Battery Arsenal Expandability
Milwaukee M18 FUEL
The Milwaukee M18 FUEL is a beast of a chainsaw. It is one of the best at executing cuts and has a long-lasting battery. One of the Milwaukee's best traits is that it goes from a full stop to full speed in an instant. This can be very useful on occasions when time and workflow efficiency are important. We also like the onboard wrench and tensioning system that allows for a large degree of precision and accuracy when tightening or changing the chain.
With their M18 battery platform, Milwaukee offers an immense lineup of tools for all kinds of applications. The well-known brand boasts that they offer more than 175 individual tools that use the same battery connection. While it is common for cordless chainsaw brands to offer the same battery for their larger yard tools such as leaf blowers and cordless lawnmowers, they generally require you to purchase separate, smaller batteries for use on their smaller power tools such as drills and reciprocating saws. With the M18 system you will be using the same battery for tools ranging from drills, circular saws, and reciprocating saws to vacuums, lights, and high torque impact drivers. If you own any Milwaukee cordless tools there's a chance that you already have a battery or charger that will work with this chainsaw. If not, but you're thinking about buying tools with interchangeable batteries, then we recommend going with the Milwaukee line of products.
Read review: Milwaukee M18 FUEL
Best Bang for the Buck
Our Best Buy Award goes to a high-performing cordless chainsaw that won't leave you broke. The Husqvarna 120i beyond adequately cuts, and it's relatively straightforward to use. We also love that this saw consumes a small amount of bar and chain oil compared to many other models we've used. Our favorite thing about the 120i is the unmatched battery life. The battery lasts longer than any other model in our review in full power mode, but in "savE" mode it increases battery life by slowing the chain speed for lighter duty tasks. The combination of effective cutting, a pleasant design, low price, and an unrivaled run time makes this saw a great choice.
The main drawback of the 120i is that the electronic control system can slow down workflow. It also has a chain tensioning and changing system that, although is tool-free, can add a couple of extra minutes to your project. Another small snag is that it doesn't make the fastest cuts, but it does cut sufficiently enough to gain our approval. If you don't mind your project taking a little extra time we think this saw offers great performance for the cost.
Read Full Review: Husqvarna 120i
Best for Light Duty
BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX
Not everyone shopping for a cordless electric chainsaw needs a professional-grade model — some people just need a tool for the occasional easy tasks. The BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX has many advantages over the more powerful competition. The highest performing models are much heavier than the MAX, which makes them substantially more tiresome to use for many applications. All cordless electric chainsaws are loud, but the noise emitted by the BLACK+DECKER is definitely more bearable than most models. This saw also won't drain your bank account — it's substantially cheaper than most of the competition. The MAX is quite small so it takes up much less space in your garage or tool shed than bigger, bulkier saws.
Unfortunately, the list of qualities that the MAX offers comes along with a list of shortcomings. When it comes to saw performance, the BLACK+DECKER simply cannot keep up with the top-scoring models in our review. In the battery life department, this cordless electric chainsaw is one of the worst that we've seen.
Read review: BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX
Why You Should Trust Us?
At TechGearLab we purchase all of our products at normal prices from the same retailers as our readers to guarantee zero bias while creating reviews. Wouldn't you know it, we have a chainsaw expert in-house. Our review editor Ross Patton has spent hundreds of hours with a saw in his hand cutting, trimming, and bucking all types of trees from the oak trees in the foothills of California to the pines of Lake Tahoe to the elms and cottonwoods of Northern Nevada. From his formal education as an environmental scientist, you can rest easy knowing that he has created tests to compare the saws as accurately as possible.
We began by carefully inspecting each saw for subtle nuances in the design of each model. We then measured and weighed each model to verify the manufacturers' specification claims. Next, we sliced a ton of wood up to time cuts and measure each saw's performance. We timed how long each battery lasted as well as how long it took each one to charge. Finally, to confirm the accuracy of our results, we took our fleet of cordless electric chainsaws to the wood yard of a professional tree service for some consultation. We let the crew get a feel for each saw and make some cuts so that we could get some input from the true professionals.
Related: How We Tested Cordless Chainsaws
Analysis and Test Results
Our goal is to help you decide which cordless chainsaw is right for you, so we started out with the most obvious way to test — we cut a whole lot of wood. However, to test these awesome tools side-by-side we went well beyond just the performance of the saw. We measured, weighed, timed, took readings, and took note of more than a dozen variables on each one of these models over the course of a month. We grouped our tests into 4 individually weighted categories — Saw Performance (35%), Ease of Use (30%), Battery Life (25%), and Noise (10%) — which are discussed in detail below.
Related: Buying Advice for Cordless Chainsaws
If you're thinking about buying an electric chainsaw the most important factor to consider is what its primary function will be. There are a large range of costs for these products and the price tag doesn't necessarily mean the saw works well for your specific application.
The Editors' Choice Echo CCS-58V4AH is not exactly the easiest on your pocketbook, but considering how fantastically it cuts we think the price tag is as fair as can be. If you're on a bit of a tighter budget our Best Buy Award winner offers solid performance at a more economical price — the Husqvarna 120i is far from the most costly saw in our review, but it outperformed most of the field in many ways. It should be mentioned that the EGO Power+ offers ample performance and some fine features at an admirable fee, but it fell short in a few key ways that kept it from earning a Best Buy award. The Milwaukee M18 FUEL may come at a premium, but buying from one of the most trusted names in power tools has its benefits. The ""FUEL"" may be a larger initial cost, but if you plan on buying more power tools in the future you will regain your investment by buying the "tool-only" model because you will already own a battery and charger. If you rarely need to make cuts, and are looking for an alternative to the arduous task of using a handsaw, then the BLACK+DECKER is the way to go.
First and foremost, our saw performance metric made up 35% of the score for each chainsaw. To test this we took the average time of a number of cuts through a specific dimension of wood from the lumber yard to ensure that each saw was tearing through the exact same volume for each cut. For the second part of this metric, we took our fleet of saws to a commercial wood yard for a more subjective test to see how they functioned bucking rounds of pine. During these two different tests, we closely monitored how quickly the saws went through bar and chain oil. Lastly, we timed how long it takes each saw to go from stopped to full speed and timed it, we define this number as "wind-up" time.
When it came to our saw performance test, the Echo was most excellent at making quick work of anything we cut with it earning the only score of 9 out of 10 for the metric. Based on our dimensional wood-cutting tests, the Echo is the fastest saw of the group with an average time of 6.1 seconds, plus it has one of the fastest wind-up times at 0.5 seconds. Its ability to slice through rounds with diameters nearly as big as the bar is extraordinary. On top of its stellar cutting performance and wind-up time it barely consumes bar and chain oil. Having to use excessive bar oil will cost you time and money.
With a score of 8 out of 10 for this metric, the Makita LXT put up cutting times ever so slightly slower than the Echo with an average of 7.9 seconds. At 0.75 seconds its wind-up time is just behind the Echo as well. Our favorite part about this saw is that we found that the LXT easily turned pine to sawdust at the wood yard. It also has an innovative adjustable oil pump so you can change the feed rate depending on the air temperature and the type of oil you are using. For the sawyer that will be doing a lot of firewood bucking, the Makita comes with metal bucking spikes to make this job easier.
Waiting for a saw to wind up can cost you time and energy which sometimes can mean that you're also losing money. The Milwaukee M18 FUEL displayed an instantaneous wind-up during all of our tests. The M18 FUEL had a great average cutting time of 8.3 seconds in our lab test and also dissected logs like nothing during our field tests. The Milwaukee is another model that has metal bucking spikes to help get the job done faster. We gave the M18 FUEL an 8 out of 10 for this metric, however, one place where it falls a bit short is that it does go through a little more bar and chain oil than we'd like to see.
The EGO Power+, on the other hand, went through almost no bar & chain oil during our tests and has very sufficient cutting power, putting up an average time of 9.5 seconds during the lab tests. This saw was one of the slowest to react to a fully pulled trigger with a time of 2.5 seconds, so we docked it a little bit for its slow wind-up. The Power+ still scores a well-deserved 7 out of 10 for this metric.
Tying at a score of 6 out of 10 for saw performance are the Greenworks G-MAX and the Husqvarna 120i models. Both of these saws had average cutting times of more than twice the time of the Echo. The Greenworks showed an average cutting time of 12.5 seconds with a lethargic wind-up time of 2.25 seconds. The 120i barely used any oil during the tests and the Greenworks only trickled a tiny bit more. The Husqvarna had one of the fastest wind-up times at 0.5 seconds, but it's a bit slower than the aforementioned models at cutting with an average time of 13.5 seconds. Both of these cut fairly well, they are just a bit slower.
The Oregon CS300 was on the slower end of cutting times at 15.9 seconds and even stopped a few times mid-cut. It also has a slower wind-up time at 1.25 seconds and isn't the greatest in the bar & chain oil department, although it does get bonus points for its metal bucking spikes.
Rounding out the bottom of saw performance metric scores are the BLACK+DECKER 40 Volt MAX Cordless Chainsaw and the Ryobi 40 V RY40530 each with a score of 5 out of 10. The MAX stalled many times during both our lab and our field cutting test and had by far the slowest average cutting time at a whopping 35.5 seconds. It also dumped a ton of bar & chain oil and had a sluggish wind-up at 1.75 seconds. The Ryobi was on the lower end of wind-up times at 2 seconds. The Ryobi had a fairly decent average cutting time at 10 seconds, but unfortunately, it quickly dumped its bar and chain oil much, much faster than any other saws in our review.
Ease of Use
One of the best things about cordless chainsaws is their relative ease of use compared to a gas-powered chainsaw which is why we weighted this metric as 30% of the total score. Cordless saws, however, are not all created equal. To establish the scores for this metric we used a panel of judges to decide which saws were the most comfortable to hold, had the best balance, and were the most straightforward to turn on and off. We removed and reinstalled the chain on each saw several times to gauge how difficult or technical the various tensioning systems are to operate. We then considered and noted how difficult each battery was to attach or remove from the saw. We paid close attention to how difficult it was to slide the bar cover off or back on and how well they do at actually protecting the chain. Finally, we noted the location of the bar & chain oil tank, the type of cap each tank has, and how difficult the tanks are to fill.
When it comes to ease of use, the Echo tops the list again for the metric scoring an 8 out of 10. Of the various types of controls that the saws have, our general consensus is that the simpler the better. The CCS-58V4AH has the system that we like the most with a thumb safety switch and a chain brake. It's the least complicated to use and the fastest to go from storage to slicing and dicing. The bar & chain oil tank has a see-through window that makes it easy to see the amount of oil in the tank and the cap has tabs for leverage in case your gloves are oily and slippery. Many cordless chainsaw manufacturers have moved to tool-free chain tensioning systems but Echo keeps it old school. To tension or change the chain this saw has a screwdriver/wrench commonly referred to as a "scrench" that is stored in the handle. The consensus of our team is that saws that use a scrench are faster, easier, and more intuitive to change or tighten the chain than models with tool-free systems. The scrench system has already been the standard in the chainsaw world for decades, so if you have previous experience with a chainsaw you likely already know how to use it.
The battery compartment is located on the top of the saw body which makes attaching it simple. Many saws have this feature, but what sets the Echo apart is that it has a handy loop that makes attaching or moving a potentially oil-covered battery with gloves on easier than the rest.
This model also has the only bar cover that actually clips into place on the saw body to ensure that your chain is always protected while in transit or storage.
Close behind the Echo with a score of 7 out of 10 is the Milwaukee M18 Fuel. The Milwaukee bears nearly all of the same features that make Echo so simple to use but the battery lacks the handy loop that the Echo has and its bar cover does not clip to the saw body. In general, this saw is very easy to use, however it doesn't quite keep up with the Echo.
One area where both the Echo and the Milwaukee may lose a little attractiveness for some people is that they are some of the heaviest saws we have tested, weighing 14.25 pounds. Although we did not find weight to be a huge issue between the Ease of Use of the various saws, we did dock the scores of heavier models for users that might struggle to lift those few extra pounds.
The majority of the models we tested were given a 6 out of 10 for this metric:
Similar to the top tier models, the EGO Power+ has the simple control system that we like, but we find that batteries mounted on the underside of the saw body are more awkward to attach or remove than models that have the battery compartment on top. The EGO specifically has one of the more difficult batteries to remove from the saw. The Power+ also has a screen under the cap in the oil tank which does not seem to like the viscosity of standard bar & chain oil. You have to pour little bits of oil at a time and then let it seep through the screen before you add more otherwise it overflows. Fortunately, the EGO barely consumes bar & chain oil so it doesn't need to be filled often.
The BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX has the simple-to-use control system that we like consisting of a thumb safety and the standard trigger. The oil tank cap is located on the top of the saw body which is convenient, but it has a similar screen to the EGO model which slows down the flow of oil when it needs to be topped off. Unlike the EGO, the BLACK+DECKER model goes through a lot of bar & chain oil so you end up dealing with this problem often while operating the saw. Also, the tool-free tensioning system on this saw is a bit troublesome to get the chain to proper tension or change the chain out. The one aspect in which the BLACK+DECKER was at the top of the field was weight. At 8.4 pounds, it is more than 2 pounds lighter than any other model.
Unlike the aforementioned saws, the Greenworks G-MAX and the Husqvarna 120i both have an electronic button that needs to be pushed before the safety switch, the chain brake, or the trigger will turn the chainsaw on. We feel as though this is a bit of a redundant feature considering that there are already three different mechanisms in place on the saw that all must be in the proper position for the saw to start. It can get annoying when you have positioned yourself to make a cut, then you pull the trigger only to realize that you have forgotten a pointless step. The G-MAX and the 120i do, however, have the battery compartment on top of the saw body where we find it to be the most ergonomic and convenient. The tool-free chain tensioning system still is not the easiest design to use on either of these models. At 10.7 pounds, the Husqvarna is one of the lightest chainsaws in our review.
One saw with a very innovative feature is the Oregon CS300 that has an integrated chain sharpening stone. It's very convenient to just pull a lever that holds the stone against the chain for a few seconds while you hit the throttle to give the chain a quick tune-up. However, where the CS300 scores extra points for the sharpener, it loses points by lacking a window on the oil tank to monitor oil levels. The bar cover on the Oregon is the only one out of the entire field that was falling apart at the conclusion of our tests.
The Ryobi 40V has an onboard scrench for changing and tightening the chain, but it is extremely difficult to remove from the saw handle.
At the bottom of the pack for this metric is the Makita LXT with a score of 5 out of 10. The Makita has the best of the tool-free chain tensioning systems, but it has the annoying extra electronic button that can be frustrating. Unlike other models with an electronic button the LXT requires you to push the button much more often due to its short shutoff time. The largest flaw that we can see with the Makita is that it requires two batteries to operate. While it may make sense for you to buy this saw if you already own other Makita power tools, we find that the added inconvenience of having extra batteries to attach, remove, charge, and keep track of just really doesn't make sense for a chainsaw.
Usually, the main concern that die-hard gas-powered chainsaw fans have with switching to cordless is they are skeptical of the battery life, and with good reason. There was a large degree of fluctuation in battery life among the saws we reviewed so we weighted this metric as 25% of our total score. The battery test was comprised of two individual tests: how long the batteries ran at full throttle with no resistance other than the chain, and how long the batteries take to charge. We weighted our scores slightly more towards battery life than charge time, but we recognize that charge time is important to many folks as well.
At the top of the scoreboard for this metric is the Husqvarna 120i with a score of 8 out of 10. The 120i has two different settings- normal mode and an additional "savE" mode which reduces the chain speed so that it may save battery for lighter jobs that require less power cutting power. In normal mode, the Husqvarna is already ahead of the field for a run time of 40 minutes in normal mode, but once switched to "savE" mode it lasts even longer with a measured time of 54 minutes. With a charge time measured at 2 hours, the "120i" wasn't the quickest in this aspect, but it also is nowhere near the slowest.
Tying with a score of 7 out of 10 for the battery metric are the Echo and the Milwaukee models. These two models have a run time of 34 minutes and 33 minutes, respectively. The Echo has a charge time of 1 hour, and the Milwaukee took 1 hour and 20 minutes to get back up to full charge.
Just behind the longer-lasting models are the EGO Power+ and the Makita XLT each earning a score of 6 out of 10. The Ego has a decent run time lasting 24 minutes but has a very impressive charge time of only 45 minutes. With a charge time of 1 hour and a run time of 28 minutes, the XLT is also about in the middle of the pack for battery life.
The Oregon CS300 has an honorable run time of 25 minutes but with a charge time of 1 hour and 50 minutes, we decided to award the saw a score of 5 for this metric.
We gave the Ryobi 40V a score of 4 out of 10 for this metric because its charge time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. Considering that the run time is only 24 minutes means that if you buy this saw you will be spending a lot more time watching the charger than making cuts.
Finally, the BLACK+DECKER only earned a 3 out of 10. Its battery only lasted 18 minutes during our run time test, but it took a staggering 3 hours and 28 minutes to charge.
One of the main ways that cordless chainsaws are superior to gas-powered models is that they are much quieter. Considering that manufacturers use this fact to entice people to buy battery-powered saws we decided to make this our final metric. However because all chainsaws are inherently loud just from the spinning of the chain and the tearing of cutting wood, we only weighted it as 10% of the total score. To measure sound we used a sound level meter at a distance of 48 inches from each saw while the saw was at full throttle. Our testers also paid close attention to whether or not certain saws stood out as being abnormally unpleasant to use while cutting due to excess noise. Because these are largely considered to be consumer models we also wanted to consider how much the sound produced by the tools may bother your neighbors. To get a gauge on this we used a panel of judges at a distance of 50 feet from the saws to get some opinions on whether or not any of the tools were notably aggravating to listen to.
For the top spot in this metric, we awarded both the BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX and the Greenworks G-MAX an 8 out of 10. During our sound meter reading test the MAX only registered 83.3 dBa which was the lowest of any of the saws that we reviewed and the model is quiet and only kind of whiny. The G-MAX produced 83.8 dBa, barely more than the MAX, and it's only moderately whiny.
Scoring just below the quietest saws are the Ego Power+ and the Husqvarna 120i earning scores of 7 out of 10 for the Noise metric. During our sound meter test, we recorded 85.3 dBa for the Power+ and the 120i was slightly louder. We found that the Ego was less whiny and that the Husqvarna had no whine.
The Echo and the Milwaukee are both near the middle of the pack with a score of 6 out of 10. We thought that each of these saws were loud and whiny and they each registered in the upper 80s in decibels on the sound meter.
Earning a score of 5 out of 10 for the Noise metric is the Oregon CS300 which, despite its relatively middle of the road decibel reading of 87.3, from a distance of 50 feet was just outright annoying. We weren't quite as harsh on our description of the pitch the Makita LXT makes, but the sound meter told a different tale. For anyone operating this saw, they are going to be subjected to a head-splitting 105.7 dBa.
The bottom score for this metric is a 4 and was given to the Ryobi 40V which registered close to 100 dBa on the meter and had a pitch that we would describe as really loud and annoying.
We hope that this review gives you the insight and the certainty to make the right choice as to which is the best cordless chainsaw for you. Just like every person will have a different application for their chainsaw, every chainsaw has different features, strengths, and weaknesses. Happy sawing!
— Ross Patton