Electric chainsaws are lighter and quieter than gas chainsaws, and they require much less maintenance. There's no need to worry about mixing oil and gas, cleaning up after spills or cleaning fouled spark plugs. You do have to haul a heavy-duty extension cord along behind you, but most users who do light work in a relatively small area, within reach of an electrical outlet, say that an electric chainsaw's combination of power and quietness is well worth that minor inconvenience.
Out of all corded electric chainsaws, the WORX WG303.1 (Est. $95) stands out for its combination of convenience and power. This 11-pound, 16-inch chainsaw draws 14.5 amps of current. Professional testers say it gets through logs as fast as the fastest light-duty gas saws, though not as fast as a heavy-duty saw like the Husqvarna 455 Rancher (Est. $430). It also has a nice range of safety and convenience features, including a chain brake, an anti-kickback chain, metal bucking spikes for improved torque, tool-free tensioning, and an automatic oiling mechanism to keep the chain lubed up and running smoothly without interrupting your sawing job. WORX backs this saw with a three-year warranty.
Both professional tests and user reviews describe this chainsaw as fast, lightweight, and easy to handle. They also say it's very quiet when idling — though, of course, no chainsaw is quiet when cutting through wood, so ear protection is recommended even with electric models. Another plus compared to some gas models, owners say, is that there are no hassles over starting. They also say maintaining the saw is easy, especially with the help of the tool-free tensioner and self-oiling chain. However, several users warn that the saw goes through oil fast and that the starter tube of chainsaw oil that comes with the saw isn't nearly enough to get you through a day of sawing.
User reviews also caution that this saw has a few quirks to watch out for. Several users say the kickback brake is too sensitive, often engaging by accident just from the vibration of the saw. (Unlike the Husqvarna gas saws covered in our gas chainsaws section, this WORX chainsaw doesn't have specially designed handles to dampen the vibration.) We also saw some complaints that the saw tends to leak oil copiously during storage. The biggest problem users have with the WORX saw, however, is the difficulty of getting technical support for it. Owners say that the WORX helpline has long hold times, and when you finally get through to a representative, they are not always able to provide useful assistance.
If you're looking for a bit more power in an electric chainsaw, the WORX WG304.1 (Est. $115) has a more powerful 15-amp engine. It's also a bit larger, with an 18-inch bar and a weight of 11.5 pounds. It has the same safety and convenience features found on the WG303.1, and the same three-year warranty. However, in professional tests, this chainsaw doesn't actually perform any better than its smaller sibling. In fact, professional reviewers say if anything, the WG304.1 is slightly slower than the WG303.1, and not quite as well balanced.
Users at Amazon.com and HomeDepot.com describe the WORX WG304.1 as fast and powerful, lightweight, and quiet, with good safety features. Its weak points are basically the same as the WORX WG303.1's: it runs through oil quickly, it tends to leak during storage, and customer support isn't always top notch. In addition, some users note that it's easy to throw the chain on the larger saw.
If you're looking for a chainsaw mainly to trim dead branches, rather than cut down trees or cut up firewood, the WORK JawSaw WG307 (Est. $90) might be the tool for you. This specially designed tool has a steel-toothed "mouth" 4 inches in diameter that you can fit around a branch, either on the ground or on the tree, to hold it securely in place. Then the bar with the chain running extends down like a tongue from the top of the mouth, sawing neatly through everything between the jaws. Users find this tool much safer and easier to use than a standard chainsaw for trimming jobs, but the 4-inch mouth limits the maximum size of branches and trees you can cut with it.