Today I’m going to be talking about the difference between gas- and battery-powered chain saws.

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Things I Used in This Project:

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I just started using a STIHL battery-powered saw, and I’m very impressed with how it compares to my gas-powered units. There are a few situations where I still get out the gas unit, but this battery-powered one is my new go-to in 90% of my tasks.

Let’s get into it.

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The first thing to compare right off the bat is the weight. When using gas, I typically run this MS 211 C-BE unit and it weighs in at 10 pounds. This battery-operated MSA 220 C-B weighs in at 11.2 pounds (with battery).

When starting a gas unit you typically have a primer bulb, put it in choke, pull the starter cord, wait for it to turn over, then flip it to “on” and with one or two more pulls,  you’re ready to go.

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With a battery, you release the chain brake and squeeze the trigger. That’s it. As long as you have a charged battery, the saw will literally be ready to go whenever you are, whether it be as soon as you bring it home from the dealer or after a long winter of not being used. 

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The next thing worth comparing is the noise. I can spend hours stomping around my property doing chain saw work and have just gotten used to the constant rumbling of the engine and the smell of gas. It’s definitely a different experience to pick up the battery-powered saw for use but then have dead silence just a few seconds after I take my finger off the trigger. 

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Typically when I’m clearing land, I’ll pick a spot to work on and do a bunch of cutting, then I’ll pause and take time to pull all the down brush out of my way so I can access the next spot.

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I normally leave my gas unit idling during this time because it’s a pain to turn off, then turn it back on in five minutes. But with a battery saw, I don’t have to deal with that dilemma to decide if my cutting break is worth turning off my saw. I set it down, then whenever I’m ready, it is, too. 

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It’s also very convenient if you’re working with somebody. It’s very easy to pause work and have a conversation without having to get close enough or yell loud enough to talk over engines.

Battery-operated saws still require bar oil, but other than that, no other fluid is needed. That means you can skip mixing oil and gas together or packing your premade mixture.

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It also means there are fewer parts to maintain. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to clean the carburetor out because it got gummed up due to lack of maintenance or incorrect storage, but all of that is eliminated since there isn’t a carb on battery-operated saws.

Now let’s talk about the big one: Power. Can a battery-operated saw hold up to jobs that a gas-powered saw can? Let’s do a side-by-side test.

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For the test, I first started by cutting some 3-6” diameter branches. 

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I then cut some 24” logs.

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Both saws perform about the same on smaller limbs and branches and while the battery-operated saw didn’t cut the hard pecan quite as quick, it still didn’t struggle with it. But is that spaced few seconds really needed for you? For me, it’s about a job to job evaluation. Do I need to cut two downed pecans or 15? I definitely still have jobs where I reach for my gas unit, but I am finding it less and less since battery-operated saws have become much more equivalent while also having some clear winning features.

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A lot of what I do around my property is clear the underbrush or small growing cedars from under my oaks. With that, my battery-operated saw has the power I need so the only thing I manage is run time. If I plan to put in 6-8 hours of cutting, I can certainly use my gas saw for the day and not think about batteries. But if I want the benefits of my battery saw, then I bring two batteries out with me and always have one on the charger. My shop is just through the woods and when I need to place a battery to charge, it’s also a great time to take a much needed break.

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Batteries might seem like an expense, but just like any other tool, investing in a platform can also be looked at as a plus. It’s my goal to switch as much of my outdoor power equipment over to battery, including my string trimmer and my leaf blower, so already having the batteries around means they can go towards whatever yard task I set out to do that day. Plus, don’t forget the positive it has on the environment by reducing our carbon footprint.

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Conclusion: I think there is definitely a place for both of these units, but with the advancements of battery technology, it is capable of handling the vast majority of the jobs I’m tackling. So if you are looking to get into chain saws, at least consider the battery-operated saws as contenders because I would be willing to bet, they’ll surprise you.

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Big thank you to Stihl for supporting my channel and working with me on this video.

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3 Responses

  1. I used a Stihl with 16″ bar for a couple of years and found even after tuning it, it was still some work to start it since I don’t use it daily. But since I am a woodturner I need one to split logs and trim things up to turn. I switched to a battery chain saw and now it is easy to use, starts quickly and my two batteries provide more then enough juice for any job that I am doing.
    Good review of both saws

  2. Great article, this is something that has been on my mind currently so I’m definitely interested in taking the plunge into battery equipment. Can you tell us more about the equipment you have already switched to?

  3. Thanks for the review. I’ve thought about adding a battery-powered chain saw but never got farther than that. That purchase isn’t far away now…

    I’ve been using a Ryobi system of tools for many years though. I wore out a 2-stroke Ryobi Expand-It power unit and replaced it with the 40 Volt battery unit a couple of years ago. The collection of attachments includes three different string trimmers, a small 10″ trimmer chain saw, a hedge trimmer, a roto-tiller, a weed blower, and a 3 foot long extension. I’ve found that the additional batteries cost as much or more than the tools that you’re buying but as you’ve pointed out, there’s not fuel and they’re quite a bit quieter.

    I would suggest though, buy several additional batteries while they’re still available. The manufacturers are notorious for “improving” the product and obsoleting your batteries style/size/shape, etc.

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