One of the best electric chainsaws being tested by Consumer Reports.
An electric chainsaw being tested by Consumer Reports

If you find it hard to believe that an electric chain saw can hold its own against a gas model, consider this: In our most recent tests, the top-ranking battery-powered saw made 152 cuts through a 10-inch oak beam on a single charge. And it's not alone among electric models.

Of the 30 electric models in CR’s chainsaw ratings, 20 earn a score of Good or better for cutting speed. And four of the battery-powered models actually earn the top rating of Excellent in that test. That’s crucial, because cutting speed is where electrics really lagged behind gas models in the past.

“In the early days, electric saws were pretty underpowered,” says Misha Kollontai, CR’s test engineer in charge of chainsaws. “Now our tests show that the best electrics, particularly those that use batteries rather than a power cord, can go head-to-head with gas models.”

Electric saws have also grown up—literally, in some cases. Most newer models come equipped with a longer cutting bar, the piece that resembles a blade. That means they can tackle bigger trees or fallen limbs. Five years ago, most electric models came equipped with a 12-inch bar, but now, many feature a 16- or 18-inch, just like a gas saw. 

More on Chainsaws and Lawn Care

That said, there are a few limitations to electrics. Corded models need an outdoor outlet and a long extension cord, and it's hard to find an outdoor-rated, heavy-gauge extension cord that’s longer than 100 feet. So that’s about as far from your house as you reach with your saw.

Battery-powered chainsaws solve this problem, but they run only 30 to 40 minutes before the batteries need to be recharged (which usually takes an hour). 

How CR Tests Chainsaws

To evaluate chainsaws, we consider how well they cut, how easy they are to handle, and how safe they are to operate.

Using 10-inch-thick oak beams, we time how long it takes for each saw to work its way through the wood. We use oak because it’s one of the hardest woods that most users will encounter on their property. We also assess how each saw handles, considering its weight and how easy it is to make horizontal and vertical cuts, and checking for any vibration.

For ease of use, we look at a number of factors, including how simple it is to start, adjust, and maintain. We also size up safety features, check for any kickback during the course of cutting, and assess whether a model's exhaust parts, like the muffler, get hot—a possible burn hazard. 

We test electric chainsaws from some of the biggest brands in the category, including DeWalt, Ego, Ryobi, and Stihl. CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of the best electric chainsaws from our tests. For more on electric as well as gas saws, see our chainsaw ratings and check out our chainsaw buying guide for information on choosing the right tool for your needs.

Best Battery-Powered Electric Chainsaws

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Cutting speed
Handling
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Cutting speed
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Ease of use
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Best Corded Electric Chainsaws

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1

Cutting speed
Handling
Ease of use

2

Cutting speed
Handling
Ease of use
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