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How to Choose the Right Chainsaw

How to Choose the Right Chainsaw

Choosing a chainsaw is similar to buying a vehicle. You want to consider the type of driving you do. If you need off-road or towing capability, don't purchase a Corvette.

The easiest question you should ask yourself first is, "What will I do with my chainsaw?" What you cut and how often you cut will also help you determine which chainsaw is best for you.

When choosing a chainsaw, you need to know the differences between a residential, prosumer, commercial, cordless, and electric chainsaw. Compare your needs with the advantages of each type to find your next cutting companion.

Residential Homeowner Chainsaws

Homeowner using a residential chainsaw to cut firewood for his stockpile.

Experience Level: Beginner-novice
Frequency of Use: Occasional use during any season
Bar Length: 14-18 inches
Operator Focus: Safety/Ease of Use
Common Uses: Storm cleanup, trimming overgrown limbs, firewood

Residential or consumer chainsaws are built with the average homeowner in mind. With a few trees on their property, he or she would occasionally like to have the option of trimming some stray branches here and there, or cutting some of their own firewood.

These saws focus on the safety and ergonomic features first, since their target market is the less-experienced user. They come with shorter bar lengths to keep the saw lightweight and easy enough to cut thinner tree limbs or logs.

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Prosumer Chainsaws

Landowner felling a tree on his property with a prosumer chainsaw.

Experience Level: Experienced users and landowners
Frequency of Use: Several, all year round
Bar Length: 18-24 inches
Operator Focus: Power, reliability, durability
Common Applications: Felling and limbing trees, clearing land, firewood

Prosumer chainsaws are the next step up from a residential saw. These higher performing chainsaws feature more powerful engines that deliver faster chain speeds, so experienced landowners can perform the various cutting tasks around their property.

Many people depend on these chainsaws for year-round use during every season. Prosumer saws not only provide the power, but also the durability and reliablity their owner's count on.

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Commercial Chainsaws

Professional logger felling some timber with a commercial chainsaw.

Experience Level: Professionals, experienced loggers
Frequency of Use: All year round - Daily
Bar Length: 24 + inches
Operator Focus: Power, performance, productivity, durability
Common Applications: Commercial logging, forestry and tree care services

Professional (commercial) chainsaws are for the Pros. Built and designed for the toughest cutting conditions, these saws are a professional loggers best companion everyday on the job.

With longer bar lengths, durable crankshafts, and even more powerful engines than prosumer saws, they're meant to cut and limb thicker trees and logs. Plus, with the abuse a commercial chainsaw can take, these machines are able to handle the most grueling tasks of a professional ax man.

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Tree Care Chainsaws

Arborist trimming branches up in a tree with a tree care chainsaw.

Experience Level: Beginner - Professional, depending on level of use.
Frequency of Use: Occasional - Moderate, daily for professional arborists
Bar Length: Less than 18 inches
Operator Focus: Lightweight, ergonomics, safety
Common Applications: Arborist tree care services, ladder cutting

Tree care saws use a top handle design compared to the typical rear handle design. The top handle design lets the operator easily maneuver the chainsaw while making precise, angled cuts high up in a tree or on a ladder.

The weight of a tree care saw is also kept to a minimum, so the operator can cut with one hand free to secure himself to the tree, if needed.

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Electric and Cordless Chainsaws

Battery powered or plug-in chainsaws for convenience cutting.

Experience Level: Beginner-Novice
Frequency of Use: Occasional quick use
Bar Length: 14-16 inches
Operator Focus: Convenience, ease of use, safety
Common Applications: Quick trims or cuts around the house and landscape.

Electric and cordless chainsaws are consumer saws that give people a more convenient option if they need to make a few quick cuts. No refueling or mixing oil, these saws are great for indoor and outdoor use.

Cordless chainsaws are powered by a battery pack, while electric saws come with a plug in power cord. Both types provide much quieter operation, but are still capable of performing the same tasks as similar gas powered residential saws.

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