Cordless, rechargeable chainsaws combine the best and worst features of their gas- and electric-powered competitors. They're typically less powerful than gas chainsaws, and unlike plug-in electric chainsaws, their runtime is limited. But on the plus side, cordless saws can go anywhere, just like a gas saw, and like an electric model, they're not going to spill fuel or belch exhaust in your face. They also tend to be as quiet as electric chainsaws, if not quieter. They start very easily, with no starter cord to tangle with, and they can be paused in the middle of a job with no need to worry about a problematic re-start.
In a comprehensive test of cordless chainsaws at TheSweethome.com, the Ego CS1604 (Est. $300) tops the rankings. Powered by a 56-volt, 5-amp rechargeable lithium battery, this 16-inch, 16-pound chainsaw runs at a speedy 6,800 rpm. It also has all the safety and convenience features found on the top-rated gas chainsaws and corded electric chainsaws, including a chain kickback brake, tool-free chain tensioning, and an automatic lubrication system. It's backed by an impressive five-year warranty, beating out the 2 years and 3 years offered by Husqvarna and WORX, the manufacturers of our Best Reviewed gas and electric chainsaws, respectively.
This Ego saw goes a long way toward relieving the biggest drawback of any cordless chainsaw: its limited runtime. Testers at TheSweethome.com found this chainsaw could make 60 cuts through a 7-by-7 block of fir before its battery gave out, a record no other cordless saw could beat. It performed similarly well out in the woods, making 17 cuts through a 17-inch pine on one charge. The editors concluded that the battery life should be ample for "general work around a property," such as cutting down a small tree and reducing it to short logs. Once the battery finally gives out, it takes about 90 minutes to fully recharge. However, if you happen to have another Ego cordless tool – such as its highly rated snow blower, lawn mower or string trimmer – you can just swap in that tool's battery to keep cutting while the saw's battery recharges.
TheSweethome.com says the Ego's cutting power is also impressive, matching that of the gas-powered Stihl MS 181 C-BE (Est. $270). Owners at HomeDepot.com agree that the CS1604 is as powerful as a light-duty gas saw, and they also find it much easier to use. Starting it is as simple as touching a button and pulling the trigger, so you can switch it off while you reposition a log instead of running down the battery. Users also say it's much quieter than a gas chainsaw and a lot easier to maintain. Their main complaints about the saw are that it's a bit heavy and doesn't come with a carrying case. Still, an impressive 96% of owners agree that they would recommend it.
If a 16-pound saw is a bit more than you can handle, consider the smaller Ego CS1401 (Est. $250), which also gets very good reviews from both professionals and users. It has a shorter 14-inch bar and weighs only 13.5 pounds, and it's a bit less powerful, running at a top speed of only 6,300 rpm. Also, the 2-amp battery it comes with has a much shorter runtime than the CS1604's 5-amp battery. Aside from these differences, it has the same safety and convenience features found on the larger saw, and the same five-year warranty.
In professional tests, the Ego CS1401 not only powers through wood as fast as most electric and light-duty gas chainsaws, it gets top marks for both safety and ease of use. Users at HomeDepot.com, where we found the most feedback for this tool, describe it as surprisingly powerful and easy to use. They find its size and weight comfortable, and they say it's so quiet you don't really need ear protection. They also like the fact that it doesn't have the maintenance needs and pollution associated with a gas chainsaw. When you're done using it, all you have to do is pop the battery on its charger and hang it up.
Unfortunately, you may need to do that a bit sooner than you'd like. Users say battery life is the EGO chainsaw's greatest weakness, with some saying they can only run the saw for 5 to 15 minutes before the battery needs recharging. Users also lament that the battery has a pretty short lifespan; several say it took only a few months before the original battery lost its ability to hold a charge. If you want the power and convenience of this cordless chainsaw, owners recommend shelling out the $130 for a spare battery to go with it so you won't be hampered by the short run time. Some users note that if you already have a 4-amp battery from another Ego tool, you can use that with this saw instead.
If you want a cordless chainsaw mainly for trimming dead branches rather than cutting down large trees, another option to consider is the WORX Cordless JawSaw WG320 (Est. $160). Like the corded WORK JawSaw WG307 (Est. $90) profiled in our section on the best electric chainsaws, this specialized tool has a 4-inch toothed "mouth" that fits around a branch, securing it in place while the bar and chain emerge like a tongue to slice through it. Owners find this tool safer and more accurate than a standard chainsaw for small jobs like cutting through branches or clearing canes, and older users say it's also much easier to handle. However, its design makes it unsuitable for cutting larger trees or splitting firewood.