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Before you buy the first lightweight chainsaw that you find online, it would be a good idea to weigh in several important factors. You’ll want a chainsaw that’s easy enough to carry around and control as it will both allow you to move faster and be much safer.
On the other hand, it must have the power to tackle the type of work that you have in mind. In other words, the best lightweight chainsaw may weigh a few pounds less than the average chainsaw of the same size but does not compromise on functionality. Our guide below will help you understand better the specs that usually come with a chainsaw model and help you make an informed decision.
How to Choose a Lightweight Chainsaw
Here’s our cheat sheet to help you choose the best lightweight chainsaw for you.
1. Shorter bar length means smaller motor and lighter weight.
The length of the guide bar gives you a rough estimate of a chainsaw’s weight and the work it’s designed to perform. For our purpose, we’ll exclude all chainsaws with more than 20 inches of bar length. We reserve those for the lumberjacks.
We will also leave out chainsaws within the 18- to 20-inch range because those are heavy-duty saws used for cutting medium to large trees. Products in both of the aforementioned categories would weigh more than what we’d consider lightweight.
As a homeowner or occasional handyman, the ideal chainsaw for you should have a bar length of less than 18” and will be powered by gasoline or electricity. Battery-powered chainsaws are undeniably light but also very limited in performance.
If you’re only cutting twigs or clearing brush, though, battery saws would be nifty helpers to have. Another thing to know when considering battery-run chainsaws is the cost of maintaining them. Battery and charger replacements will cost more than the saw, making this a costly option over time.
2. Gasoline and electric chainsaws have their advantages and disadvantages.
Gas-powered chainsaws are the traditional type, and you’d know them by their loud, mechanical whirr. They are the brawniest of the three power types. If power is more important to you, then pick a gas chainsaw. You can work anywhere with them and, though they’re quite hefty, there will be no cords to limit you.
The bigger visions of these saws can be dangerous to novices. There are unlimited choices for smaller sizes, but even those require appropriate skills. Apart from the noise, they belch fumes, so consider whether that would be an issue for you. Also, because of the heavy work they handle, gas saws need a fair amount of cleaning and maintenance.
Electric-powered chainsaws, on the other hand, are quieter and lighter than their gas counterpart. They work best for felling trees of a small to medium diameter. They are environmentally-friendly, producing low noise and no fumes. In general, they are less cumbersome than gas-powered chainsaws because they weigh less.
Since they’re corded, your distance to the nearest AC source will restrict your movement. Though they don’t require as much cleaning and maintenance, their electrical parts make them more complicated to troubleshoot than gas saws.
3. Bar length and power source will tell you what the chainsaw can do.
Gas chainsaws with an 8”-16” bar and electric chainsaws of varying bar lengths are all designed for pruning trees, cutting tree branches, and cutting small trees.
Gas chainsaws with a 16”-18” long guide bar are medium-duty equipment. They are the perfect size for landowners who need to do after-storm cleanup, all-around cutting, and property maintenance.
What type of job do you have in mind for your chainsaw? Will it be used mainly for clearing up after a storm or chopping stove-sized logs? Will it be for pruning trees? What size of tree do you typically cut? Will you be working near a power source, or do you need to work without cords hampering your every move? These questions should precede your decision on the size and specs of the chainsaw you’re going to buy.
4. Understanding design specs will aid in the comparison of lightweight chainsaws.
- Displacement – expressed in cubic centimeters (cu cm or cc) or cubic inches. It measures the chainsaw’s power output. Higher displacement means greater produced power. Professionals will want their saws to have a displacement of 90 cc or higher. Landowners who have routine tree-cutting jobs will need saws with 40-55 cc displacement. Handy homeowners with occasional tree pruning chores will do fine with 35-40 cc.
- Chain pitch – usually expressed in a decimal or fraction, such as 0.375, 3/8, or 0.404. It is the average distance between links. It also tells you the size of the chain. A bigger pitch means a heftier chain.
- Chain gauge – measured in inches, such as 0.043”, 0.050”, and 0.058”. It refers to the thickness of the chain’s drive link. The most common chain gauge is 0.050”.
- Handle – positioned on top or at the rear. For above-ground jobs, arborists typically use top handles. For all-around home use, we recommend a rear-handled saw. A handle with a secure grip and ergonomic design will add to your safety and reduce hand fatigue.
- Weight – you’d want a saw that’s compatible with your build. Remember that you may need to work over a prolonged period of time. A lightweight saw that matches your build will allow you to work with more control. Many skilled chainsaw users say, however, that for added safety, a chainsaw must not be overly light. It must have a substantial weight to it.
- Chain oiler – an automatic chain-oiling feature will make the chain run more smoothly. Maintenance also becomes less of a chore.
- Safety features – look for chain brakes and throttle locks. Chain brakes protect from injuries caused by kickbacks. The throttle lock prevents accidental pulling of the trigger.
Our Picks for the Top 5 Lightweight Chainsaws – Reviewed
1. Husqvarna 435E 16-inch 40.9cc 967650802 Gas-Powered Chain Saw
Husqvarna’s 435E is both powerful and relatively easy to use. It weighs 9.2 lb which is pretty lightweight for a 16” gas chainsaw. Product descriptions usually indicate the weight of the chainsaw’s main body only, excluding the weight of the cutting equipment. So for this saw, the effective weight including the cutting chain and fuel will be something close to 12 lb, which matches its sturdy build and solid feel.
The 435E has a rear-type handle. Its 2.15 HP 40.9 cc motor is suited for home and property maintenance. The X-cut chain makes cutting fire logs and 12-inch timbers effortless and fast. Clearing up after a storm will be that much faster!
One of the unique features of the 435E is its X-Torq system which reduces fumes and emissions and improves fuel efficiency. It has an automatic chain oiler which is both good and not so good. This auto feature takes chain oiling off your mind, so you get to focus on the work at hand. The downside is that you won’t be able to adjust the flow rate, which is constant.
The ergonomic handle combined with 435E’s LowVib system reduces hand fatigue. Users find this chainsaw model easy to start, although you might need to crank it several times to start during cold weather. Its pitch of 0.325 requires more chain sharpening than the more popular 0.375 or 3/8. The motor has a maximum speed of 9000 rpm; while the chain speed is about 17 meters per second. For light to medium cutting, this chainsaw is no doubt a workhorse.
2. Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2cc 12-inch Top Handle Chain Saw with Pure Fire Engine
Property owners who occasionally do tree-pruning will find Tanaka’s TCS33EDTP/12 a very well-balanced chainsaw when it comes to portability and performance. It weighs 11.9 lb and has a 12-inch guide bar. This compact saw runs on petrol and wields plenty of power with its 32.2 cc engine.
Compared to Husqvarna’s 435E, the weight of Tanaka’s TCS33EDTP/12 can be a little off-putting. On a positive note, this top-handle saw is an aggressive cutter, and that can considerably shorten the amount of time you’ll need to finish your job. Its short blade, anti-vibration feature, and rubberized grip make above-ground cutting jobs easier to perform.
This product does not come fully assembled, but it’s relatively easy to put together with the enclosed user’s manual. It cranks up quickly, too. The air filter is accessible on the rear, and that’s also where there’s one minor flaw. The air filter cover may keep falling off, even after you tighten it, which can be annoying if it happens while you’re up on a tree. A replacement is available and cheap, though. Still, it’s an aspect that needs design improvement in the future.
3. Remington RM1425 Limb N Trim 8 Amp 14-inch Electric Chainsaw
Our favorite things about Remington’s RM1425 are its lightness and compactness. You can operate it with one hand if you need to, you can climb up a ladder with it, and cut stumps on the ground. It weighs a mere 6.24 lb with no petrol to weigh it down. We believe that this is the lightest chainsaw that you can get within the 10”-14” range.
You might not be able to cut a 25-inch diameter tree in a single pass with this small saw, but you can accomplish it with a little more effort by going around the circumference. By design, however, the RM1425 is made for cutting tree branches or much smaller tree limbs, say diameters of around 6-10 inches. It makes light of chores you usually put off, such as clearing the yard of saplings and cutting fire logs as it’s so easy to use.
This saw arrives in a box fully assembled and ready to whirr away. Just fill the oil tank, plug, and it’s ready to do some serious business. For an electric saw, it punches great power and starts immediately. Additionally, it will not bother the neighbors with loud noise. It’s a must-have if you live in urban locations.
The RM1425 is the perfect general cutting tool for wood and tree branches, but you have to use it within 50 ft of the power source for optimal performance. Expect some drop in torque the farther you work from the outlet. At its price point, though, the RM1425 is a steal of a deal.
4. Makita UC4051A 16-inch Electric Chainsaw
Makita’s UC4051A weighs 12.3 lb, which is almost twice the weight of Remington’s RM1425. Its guide bar is longer at 16”, with a chain speed of 2,900 feet per minute. Other winning features include an integral current limiter which prevents overloading and damage to the unit. It has an automatic chain oiler, a tool-less chain tensioning system, an easy-view oil tank, and an electric chain brake.
This rear-handle electric chainsaw eliminates tough starts and fume emissions. You need not deal with fuel issues anymore, such as mixing 2-cycle gases, leaks and spills, exhausts, stagnant gas, the long wait to drain unused fuel, and the added weight.
You can trust the UC4051A to give you a quick start all the time, even if you don’t use it over long intervals. This reliability is valuable especially when you need to finish a job fast. It has thoughtful features, as well, such as the rubber inlay on the grip and the small clip which secures the chainsaw’s cable to the outlet.
It will not have the power of gas saws of the same size. Its tool-less tensioning system may also need a little getting used to and can be quite fussy. Pricewise, it’s one of the more expensive options. Overall, though, it’s a dependable chainsaw to have for general cutting tasks. It’s also solidly built, so expect it to last for years.
5. Greenworks 14-Inch 9-Amp Corded Chainsaw 20222
Greenworks’ 14-inch 20222 electric lightweight chainsaw is similar to Remington’s RM1425 in many ways. It’s slightly more expensive than the RM1425 but still a lot cheaper than the other three brands. They both have 14-inch guide bars. Greenwork’s chainsaw is heavier than the RM1245 but not significantly so. It has a 9-amp motor, a tool-less tension adjustment feature, an auto-oiling system, and a clear-view oil tank.
The manufacturers designed this product for light tree-cutting work, and it works best for pruning and trimming trees, cutting tree stumps to the ground, and clearing up after a storm. For these light applications, model 20222 cuts fast and effortlessly.
You might need to replace the chain after cutting around five 6″-10″ diameter trees. But that’s already more than impressive for a lightweight chainsaw. Besides, replacement chains are available and inexpensive. It doesn’t have a chain brake, and that is an important safety consideration. Otherwise, this is a versatile, economical, and convenient cutting tool to have.
If you’re the type of person who uses chainsaws less than five times a year, you shouldn’t miss out on Greenworks’ 20222. It gets the job done without the hassle that goes along with gas-powered saws. It’s a plug-and-use type of saw. Maintenance means checking oil levels, and that’s it. Even women and seniors are impressed with the ease of using it.
Choosing a chainsaw from a multitude of brands and models can be a tough thing to do. That’s especially true if you have no idea what to look for and where to start looking. In this guide, we have repeatedly emphasized that the best lightweight chainsaw for you is one that matches your build and the work that you have in mind for it.
Lightweight chainsaws have shorter bar lengths and smaller motors. They can be versatile but are also limited in application. When narrowing down your choices, judge their value depending on which aspect you value more – lightness or functionality. The products we’ve reviewed each strikes a balance which makes them stand out in this category.