Petrol vs Electric Chainsaws: Which Should You Choose?
As a professional tradie, you know the golden rule: Bad equipment equals bad results. As you evaluate your business needs for 2019, you might be considering adding a chainsaw to your list.
Choosing power equipment always comes down to the question, should you go with petrol or electric? Chainsaws are no different and there are pros and cons to each model.
In this article, we’ll take a look at petrol vs electric chainsaws. We’ll go through all the elements involved in shopping for a chainsaw and make recommendations for your next chainsaw purchase.
Chainsaws: Elements to Consider
Are you a tree trimmer or a carpenter? Will you use your chainsaw on a daily basis or only occasionally? It’s important to ask yourself serious questions about your business before you make this investment.
Chainsaws come in every size, power level, and range of portability. And much of what you need depends on how you plan to use it. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest factors that tradesmen look at when they buy chainsaws.
Bar length is the length of the cutting blade. You’ll find both petrol and electric chainsaws in different bar lengths depending on the size of the wood you plan to cut. Bar lengths are almost always measured in inches.
If you’re planning to use your saw on small jobs, clearing branches or other small pieces of wood from construction sites, a smaller bar length will do. Most electric chainsaws come in bar lengths from 12-20 inches.
For those who plan to cut larger pieces of wood, you’ll want to opt for something larger. A commercial-quality petrol-powered chainsaw can be larger than 20 inches.
An electric chainsaw will give you enough power to prune trees and cut small branches. But if you’re looking for something more powerful, your best bet is always petrol.
The amount of power a petrol chainsaw kicks out is directly related to how big the engine is. A 30-45 cc engine is the lowest on the power grid. This is for small jobs where you still want a decent kick of power.
A medium range chainsaw has a 40-50 cc engine and can take on larger projects like cutting firewood and clearing thicker trees. But this size engine won’t do the really tough work.
If you’re a professional tree cutter, you need a professional-quality engine on your chainsaw. Larger chainsaws can run up to 120 cc. This powerful petrol engine will power a blade enough to cut through almost anything.
Portability & Weight
There are two types of electric chainsaws: corded and battery-powered. Corded saws offer the least amount of portability because you can only go as far as the cord takes you. A battery-powered saw, of course, you can take anywhere.
Corded saws do have an advantage over battery-powered saws in that they’re often more powerful. Petrol chainsaws are portable and have the longest run times. But they’re also the heaviest, which affects portability too.
A battery-powered saw is the lightest and most portable saw you can get. Even though they’re not as powerful as corded or petrol saws, they are easier to maneuver because they weigh less. And they’re generally less bulky than petrol saws.
Electric saws need less maintenance than petrol chainsaws. If you’re looking for something light and easy to maintain, your best bet is electric.
Typical electric chainsaw maintenance has to do with keeping the chain working properly. Keep the chain sharp and lubricated. And always make sure it’s not slack on the guide bar before use.
Petrol chainsaws have an actual engine on board. So you’ll spend more time maintaining the engine while still having to keep the chain clean and sharp.
You’ll need to change the oil regularly. Plus, change out oil and air filters when they’re dirty. You also need to maintain spark plugs, cooling vents, and carburettors on your petrol-powered machine.
Noise & Safety
All chainsaws make noise. But you’ll find that electric machines are significantly quieter than petrol machines. If you’re working in urban neighbourhoods, this is a big advantage.
When safety is concerned, electric and petrol chainsaws are similar. They both require that you wear the right protective gear, including a vest, sleeves, gloves, and eyewear.
Many chainsaws come with additional safety features. Check out the size and shape of the grab bar before you buy. You want this to be easy to hold and to fit well in your hand.
Modern chainsaws have kickback reduction systems that help prevent dangerous kickback accidents. Many electric models have tip protectors to help with this. Although they are a great safety feature, they’ll limit the type of cuts you can make.
Some petrol-powered saws have kill switches that let you quickly turn the saw off in an emergency. A safety throttle is a good feature as well. It keeps the saw from starting without the safety trigger engaged.
Extra features can turn an ordinary chainsaw into an extraordinary one. For example, electric saws have push-button starts. This type is much easier than petrol saws that have pull-cord starts.
It’s also important to remember that with a petrol machine, you’ll need to run it on a mixture of oil and gas. Whereas corded and battery-powered saws can plug in anywhere.
Do you need to trim high branches? If so, you can get a pole saw that has a long, extendable arm to reach higher areas. These come in corded, battery-powered, and petrol varieties.
Certain models come with chain tension adjusters that don’t require you to use tools when the chain needs adjustment. Often, petrol saws have better bar-oiling systems than electric saws. This keeps the bar slick so the chain doesn’t stick while it’s working.
If you opt for a petrol machine, you’ll have several sizes of oil tank to choose from. Obviously, the larger the tank, the longer you can go without a refill. But a bigger tank also means more weight to haul around.
What Is the Right Chainsaw for Your Business?
There are a lot of great options in the chainsaw market. When you’re shopping for chainsaws, keep your business needs in mind. It will help you weed out the ones that won’t work and pick one that’s perfect for you.
Our opinion? When it comes to power and durability, you’ll never go wrong with a petrol chainsaw. They’re the best choice if you’re planning to do any type of commercial cutting.
Electric saws have their place too. They’re quieter, easier to start and use, and fumeless. But they’ll never give you the power of a great-quality petrol unit.
Ready to buy a chainsaw? Check out our favourite, the Husqvarna 240-E petrol-powered saw is perfect for almost every need.