Power & Chain Saws

Welcome to the Community @Nolan

I merged your query into this existing topic as there are a few germane posts, although none specific to your question. The link and comments in post 7 by @mark_m might be helpful, as may posts by a few others.

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Hi @Nolan, welcome to the community.

It would potentially help others if you could provide some more information…such as…

  • Does the type matter… petrol, electric, battery?

  • What do you plan to use it for…light garden work, cutting firewood, clearing vegetation etc?

  • How often do you think you would use it?

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My bad, type got lost when I merged it - petrol. I’ll edit it in.

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It’s going to be difficult to offer further guidance without greater detail. The online web resources of the recognised brands are a useful resource when they grade the models according to intended use. EG home owner/camper/casual user vs farming or professional tree management/forestry.

The 20 inch (approx 50cm) bar length is more typical of products intended for heavy duty farm and professional use. It’s best to match the size of the chain saw (bar length, engine capacity/power, total weight) to the job at hand. For most around the home, property/farm jobs a chain saw with a 12-14in bar length is more than adequate. I use a 14in and occasionally 16in around a property.

Unless one is cutting down routinely tall timber 25-35m high it’s more than adequate. There is no need to buy a sledge hammer to drive a 2in/50mm nail in softwood. The frequent limb removal or breaking up task is done with a 12in bar chainsaw with 1/4in pitch chain. Less weight, fatigue, kickback etc. The same class are also available (more expensive) in battery power.

If one is routinely needing to use a saw with a longer bar length? There is up to a 2kg weight penalty with the increased power required, high fuel usage, more skill/strength in starting. With the longer bar and higher power also comes greater risk.

For occasional use a shorter bar length and battery (ask my small acre neighbours) delivers a low maintenance solution. Petrol saws need to be used often, to minimise regular fuel and other maintenance needs.

A number of the tool specialists, professional mower/yard maintenance stores and hardware chains sell cheapies. YMMV

It may not match any of the requirements mentioned already but I have a good news story for some. It is many years since I used a petrol chainsaw and I no longer own one. This year in the wake of the drought I have dead trees and branches falling like flies and my usual practise of dismembering with a bushman’s saw isn’t going to cut it. So I searched for a little chainsaw. The requirement was to be small and light but able to cut branches up to about 20-25 cm or so. I wasn’t going to be felling big trees and it didn’t need to go all day because I am not going to be going all day either.

I ended up getting an EGO 35 cm battery model. I was concerned that it would not have the grunt to do very much, that I would always be babying it. Some online videos suggested this would not be so. It turns out to be fine. It cuts through a 15 cm hardwood log in a few seconds with little effort. You are warned to keep the blade sharp but that applies anyway.

The benefits to me are:

  • No 2-stroke fumes to set off my asthma
  • No fuel to buy or mix, I don’t have any other 2-stroke gear. No engine maintenance.
  • Quiet, you really don’t need earmuffs. The manual says 75db.
  • With a 2.5 Ah battery in it the total weight is about 6kg, which is easy to handle safely by smaller people and easy to hold with one hand while you hit the brake with the other if you need to. The battery is interchangeable for use with other gear by EGO.
  • If charged during the day uses solar power and costs virtually nothing to run. The only consumable is chain oil.
  • Setup and adjustment is easy. Warning! The manual is typical that it is rather skimpy and relies on cartoons that may not mean much to you.

Potential Limitations

  • Not useful for big logs but I don’t need that.
  • Will not go all day. With the small battery it is still going after an hour, how much longer I don’t know. You could get a bigger battery (or two) and the fast charger and keep going. Fine for me, while it re-charges I have a cuppa and a sit down. One reason for its longevity is unlike the petrol engine it is only going while you are cutting.

With the smaller battery and standard charger included it cost me $500. I will let you know it I am still happy in a few years time.

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If you live in the country and wood is your only source of heat, you regularly run your chainsaw for 2-4 hours …

Talk to country people. Lots of them have $1000 chainsaws because that’s what they need to keep their houses heated in winter …

Is there a point at which that 2-4 hours of regular chain saw use would be better replaced by a solar sourced solution?

As for product testing tools such as chain saws, It’s a difficult ask if one considers the greater majority of Choice members and consumers may not benefit. Would the majority interested be looking for an occasional use lighter duty chain saw option?

I suspect those of us who have needs for heavier duty might be in the minority.

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Unfortunately if you want people outside inner urban areas to subscribe to Choice, you need to review stuff that they use. For most people away from town gas, wood is their only heating source, so chainsaws are absolutely something that needs to be reviewed.

I would happily use a battery chainsaw (I have a brilliant electric wood splitter), but so far, they don’t cut it (every pun intended).

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That isn’t so, even in remote areas there is electricity in almost every home, even in two bedroom ‘sheds’. A fair number have bottled gas though (like town gas) it isn’t very economical for heating.

I get it that wood is traditional and seen to be cheap, although those who can’t deal with a chainsaw pay quite a bit for a trailer-load of wood and burn it sparingly. Huddling round the open fire or the combustion stove is a way of life. Often the other rooms are freezing as there is no insulation in the weatherboard walls or iron roofs, especially in the enclosed verandahs where the ice forms on the underside of the unlined roof and drips as the house warms up in the morning. Also common is the lung disease, that in winter comes from the cloud that sits over each town and hamlet when the air is still and in the houses whose open fires or very old stoves produce much fug.

The problem is not that wood is all there is, the problem is money. Those old houses are always going to be hard to heat if you are short of a quid. There is no easy answer.

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Battery powered yard tools may still be a novelty for some.

This time a step up in battery voltage and capability?
https://www.toro.com.au/product/60v-max-chainsaw-bare-tool-51845t

16” bar and 3/8” pitch chain.
41cm bar and 9.5mm approx pitch for the young-uns.

What’s missing, that only a Choice test of similar products would reveal - how to convert 50 cuts of a 15x15cm square American lumber into cuts of Aussie Ironbark and aged Acacia.