Consumer-grade chainsaws make short work of cutting firewood, cleaning up fallen limbs and trees, cutting framing timbers and carving wood. There are three basic types: gas, electric and cordless electric, which is powered by a battery. Each is appropriate for different situations.
Gas chainsaws are the most powerful and overall capable models. They don't limit the user by either cord length or battery charge time, and are particularly good for larger properties and tougher jobs. They're also pretty handy during a power outage.
Although not as powerful as gas, electric chainsaws keep winning converts. These are quieter; easier to start, use and maintain; and don't spew two-stroke exhaust into your face or the environment. You need a heavy-duty extension cord, however, which means it's not safe to work in wet conditions and confines you to a limited range, typically about 100 feet.
Cordless, battery-operated chainsaws are convenient and "green." Again, they're not as powerful as gas or corded electric saws, but they offer unlimited range and all the environmental benefits of an electric model. Powered by rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries, they're super-convenient for working in trees or other awkward situations, and light enough to carry over large acreage for small work.
Because they're exhaust-free, both electric and cordless models can be used indoors. Gas models pose the same risks as any exhaust-producing engine when used indoors and should be limited to outdoor use.
Don't forget the safety features. All of the chainsaws in this report offer basic safety features that are either required by law or included by manufacturer consensus, and some have additional bonuses. The best chainsaws are safe, but extras shouldn't make it inconvenient to use. Don't forget to suit up properly when using a chainsaw, with protective goggles, ear protection and protective clothing.
Regardless of power source, the best chainsaws provide fast cutting speed, ample power and a tolerable noise level. They should also be safe and easy to use.
Even the best chainsaw only cuts well if its cutting chain is sharp. At $10 to $25 per chain, replacing the chain every time it gets dull really isn't practical, although keeping a spare chain or two on hand is a good idea in case of emergency. At-home chainsaw sharpeners are reasonably priced and easy to use, and investing in one can save you time and money.
ConsumerSearch.com evaluates dozens of reviews from both experts and owners to help you choose the best chainsaw for your outdoor needs. We take into account performance, safety and ease of use to find a chainsaw that can handle your workload -- no matter how light or heavy -- and a good sharpener to keep it in top cutting condition.