The Best Cordless Chainsaw of 2020
Best 18" Cordless Electric Chainsaw
EGO Power+ CS1800
When it comes to cordless electric chainsaws, it is hard to top the EGO Power+ CS1800. With a 56V 5Ah battery, this model provides ample power to rip through whatever logs and trees are in your way. Then, once the battery is out of juice it charges surprisingly quickly. During our side-by-side tests at the lab, the CS1800 was one of the fastest to make cuts through the standardized size of lumber. Once we got it out into the forest for some bike trail building we completely fell in love. It also offers a number of extra features that aid in overall performance and ease of use, such as metal bucking spikes, an LED light, our favorite of all — the 18" bar.
We didn't find much to complain about while testing this model, but we'd like to mention that it doesn't have the quickest wind-up time. This is not a big deal unless you require instantaneous wind-up to get your job done as fast as possible. Also, the length of the bar could be a little much for those that only need a cordless electric chainsaw for smaller projects. If you are looking for an easy-to-use cordless electric chainsaw with a long bar and a long-lasting battery, then the EGO Power+ CS1800 is the way to go.
Best 16" Cordless Electric Chainsaw
The ECHO CCS-58V4AH 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 enhance leverage while you're wearing gloves. It has an ergonomic rubber handle, a strong battery life, 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 its high level of execution.
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 tricky to remove from the body if you don't have something to pry it out with. That being said, we believe these small drawbacks don't compromise 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 being completely stopped to full speed in an instant. This can be very useful on occasions when time and workflow efficiency are important. With their M18 battery platform, Milwaukee supplies an immense lineup of tools for all kinds of applications. This well-known brand boasts more than 175 individual tools that use the same battery connection. 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 interested in buying tools with interchangeable batteries, then we recommend going with the Milwaukee line of products.
The main drawback of the Milwaukee M18 FUEL is the incredibly loud and annoying noise it produces. One of the best things about electric tools compared to gasoline-powered machines is that they are much quieter. This one? Now so much. It's also pricey, especially compared to the budget models. Still, if you are already a Milwaukee power tool owner or you require a chainsaw with instantaneous wind-up, then the M18 FUEL is the way to go.
Read review: Milwaukee M18 FUEL
Best Bang for the Buck
The Husqvarna 120i is a high-performing cordless chainsaw that won't leave you broke. This device is capable of beyond adequate 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. Our favorite thing about the 120i is its unmatched battery life. The battery lasts longer than any other model in our review in full power mode, and in "savE" mode, it further increases battery life by slowing the chain speed for light-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 it's tool-free, can add a couple of extra minutes to your project. Another small snag is that it can'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 task. The BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX has many advantages over the more powerful competition. The highest performing models are much heavier than the MAX, which can make them substantially more tiresome to use for some application. All cordless electric chainsaws are loud, but the noise emitted by the BLACK+DECKER is more bearable than most models. This saw is substantially cheaper than most of the competition so that it won't drain your bank account. It's also quite small, so it occupies less space in your garage or tool shed than bigger, bulkier saws.
Unfortunately, the list of qualities that the MAX offers comes with a corresponding 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 the products at normal prices from normal retailers to guarantee zero bias while creating reviews. And 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 in the foothills of California to the pines of Lake Tahoe, and the elms and cottonwoods of Northern Nevada. With his formal education in environmental science, 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' claims. Next, we sliced a ton of wood up so we could time cuts and measure each saw's performance. We also timed how long each battery lasted and how long it took each one to recharge. 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 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, 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 four 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 shopping for an electric chainsaw, the most crucial factor to consider is what its primary function will be. There is a wide range of prices for these products, and a higher cost doesn't necessarily mean a saw will work well for your specific application.
If you are looking for maximum bar length and maximum battery life, it's hard to beat the price for the performance of the EGO Power+ CS1800. The Echo CCS-58V4AH isn't 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, the Husqvarna 120i is far from the costliest saw in our review, but it outperformed most of the field in many ways. 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 is higher on initial cost, but if you plan to buy more Milwaukee tools in the future, you can save some money by purchasing the "tool-only" models because you will already own a battery and charger. If you rarely need to make serious 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, the saw performance metric makes up 35% of the score for each chainsaw. To test this, we took the average of several timed 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. We also timed how long it takes each saw to go from stopped to full speed. We call this number "wind-up" time. Lastly, we considered bar length in this metric as a smaller bar simply cannot complete larger tasks.
There were two saws that we awarded a 9 out of 10 for this metric — the EGO Power+ CS1800 and the Echo. During our dimensional woodcutting tests, the CS1800 put up the fastest average time at 5.9 seconds, and you cannot mention the CS1800 without mentioning its' industry-first 18" bar on a cordless electric chainsaw. The Echo was just behind with an average time of 6.1 seconds, and makes up for the 16" bar with one of the fastest wind-up times at 0.5 seconds.
With a score of 8 out of 10 for this metric, the Makita LXT displayed 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 also just behind the Echo. Our favorite part about this saw is that we found that the LXT easily turned pine to sawdust at the wood yard. It 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 any sawyer that will be doing a lot of firewood bucking, the Makita comes with metal bucking spikes to make the job easier.
Waiting for a saw to wind up can cost you time and energy, which in some circumstances can also mean you're losing money. The Milwaukee M18 FUEL exhibited 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. One area where it falls a bit short, however, is that it does go through more bar and chain oil than we'd like to see.
The EGO Power+ 1400, on the other hand, went through almost no bar & chain oil during our tests and has sufficient cutting power with an average time of 9.5 seconds during the lab tests. This saw is one of the slowest to react to a fully pulled trigger and took 2.5 seconds to get up to speed. We docked it a little bit for this slow wind-up time. The Power+ still scores a solid 7 out of 10 in 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 that were 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 was a bit slower than the aforementioned models in our dimensional test, finishing 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 lower 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. However, 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 tests 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 of 1.75 seconds. The Ryobi was on the lower end of wind-up times at 2 seconds, but it had a fairly decent average cutting time at 10 seconds. Unfortunately, however, it tore through 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 ease of use compared to gas-powered chainsaws, which is why this metric contributes 30% to 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 had the best balance, were the most comfortable to hold, and were the easiest to turn on and off. We also 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 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 these tanks are to fill.
When it came to ease of use, the EGO Power+ CS1800 and the Echo once again top the list with a solid score of 8 out of 10. Among the various types of controls that these saws have, our consensus is that simpler is better. Both of these saws have the system that we like the most with a simple 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 on the Echo has a see-through window that makes it easy to see the amount of oil in the tank, and the cap features tabs for leverage in case your gloves are oily or slippery. Although many cordless chainsaw manufacturers have moved to tool-free chain tensioning systems, the Echo keeps it old school. To tension or change the chain, this saw has a screwdriver/wrench tool that's stored in the handle — commonly referred to as a "scrench." For those that are already used to this system, this might be the way to go.
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 much easier with gloves on. This model also has the only bar cover that clips into place on the saw body to ensure that your chain is always protected while in transit or storage.
The CS1800 has done the opposite — EGO has made the most innovative, easiest to use tool-free chain tensioning system that we have seen. For those that have no interest in fumbling with or losing tools while trying to tune their saw, this is the way to go. This model also has an LED light for use from dusk 'til dawn.
Close behind the Echo and the CS1800 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 except the battery lacks a handy loop, and its bar cover does not clip to the saw body. In general, this saw is very easy to use; however, it can't quite match the Echo in this regard.
One area where both the Echo and the Milwaukee may lose a little appeal to some people is weight. They are some of the heaviest saws we have tested, tipping the scales at 14.25 pounds. Although we did not find the weight to be a huge influence on 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 remaining models received a 6 out of 10 for this metric.
Similar to the top tier models, the EGO Power+ 1400 has a simple control system that we like, but is lacking any features that set it apart from the rest.
The BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX has the simple-to-use control system that we like which consists 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 unlike the Power+ 1400, the BLACK+DECKER model goes through a lot of bar & chain oil, so you end up dealing with the cap 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 performance aspect where the BLACK+DECKER is at the top of the field is 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 engaged before the safety switch, the chain brake, or the trigger will turn the chainsaw on. We feel this is a bit excessive considering that there are already three different mechanisms in place 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, and then you pull the trigger only to realize that you have forgotten a redundant step. The G-MAX and the 120i do, however, have the battery compartment on top of the saw body where we think it's the most convenient and ergonomic. The tool-free chain tensioning system still isn't 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 integrated chain sharpening stone on the Oregon CS300. 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. Although the CS300 scores extra points for this sharpener, it loses points because it lacks 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 end of our tests.
The Ryobi 40V has an onboard scrench for changing and tightening the chain, but this scrench 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 an extra electronic button that we found frustrating. Unlike other models with an electronic button, the LXT requires you to push the button much more often because it has a short shutoff time. The largest flaw that we can see with the Makita is that it requires two batteries to operate. While it could make sense for you to buy this saw if you already own other Makita power tools, we find that the added inconvenience of having an extra battery to attach, remove, charge, and keep track is just unfortunate for chainsaw operation.
Usually, the main concern that die-hard gas-powered chainsaw fans have before switching to cordless is skepticism about the battery life. And with good reason. There was a significant degree of fluctuation in battery life among the saws we reviewed, so we weighted this metric as 25% of our total score. The battery evaluation was comprised of two individual tests: how long the batteries ran at full throttle with no resistance, and how long the batteries took 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.
If battery life is your key deciding factor while shopping for a cordless electric chainsaw, look no further than the EGO Power+ CS1800. Earning a 9 out of 10, this model lasted an entire 60 minutes during our runtime assessment. Surprisingly, even with its extra-long runtime, it only took an hour and a half to charge.
Just behind the CS1800 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 to save battery during lighter jobs that require less power cutting power. In normal mode, the Husqvarna is already ahead of the field with 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 isn't anywhere 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 to full charge.
Just behind the longer-lasting models are the EGO Power+ 1400 and the Makita XLT, which each earn a score of 6 out of 10. The Power+ 1400 has a decent run time of 24 minutes and 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 give this saw a mediocre score of 5 out of 10.
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, that means 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. Meanwhile, 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. Many manufacturers use this fact to entice people to buy battery-powered saws, so we decided to make this our final metric. However, because all chainsaws are inherently loud due to the spinning of the chain and the tearing of cutting wood, we only weighted it 10% of the total score. To measure sound, we used a sound level meter at a distance of 48 inches from the chain while the saw was at full throttle. Our testers also paid close attention to whether or not certain saws subjectively stood out as being 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 might 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 particularly 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 is the lowest of any of the saws that we reviewed. We'd say this 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+ 1400 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 Power+ 1400 wasn't especially whiny and that the Husqvarna had no whine.
The Echo, EGO Power+ 1800, and Milwaukee are all near the middle of the pack with a score of 6 out of 10. We think both of these saws are 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. Despite its relatively middle of the road decibel reading of 87.3, from a distance of 50 feet, it seemed to be just outright annoying. We won't be quite as harsh with our description of the pitch of the Makita LXT, but the sound meter told a different tale. Anyone operating this saw is going to be subjected to a head-splitting 105.7 dBa.
The bottom score for this metric is a 4, and it was given to the Ryobi 40V. It 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 on the best cordless chainsaw for you. Just as every person has a different application for their chainsaw, every chainsaw has its own strengths, weaknesses, and features. Happy sawing!
— Ross Patton