You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality chainsaw. We put together a list of the best chainsaws under $200.
If you’re in a hurry, here are our quick picks:
Remington RM4216 16-Inch Gas Powered Chainsaw
Best In Power
Poulan Pro PR5020 20 in. 50cc Gas Chainsaw
All About Chainsaws
A chainsaw is a portable tool that cuts by using jagged teeth that quickly rotate due to a chain and motor. Consider it a motor-driven, automatic hand saw. Of course, when you get into the details every chainsaw is a little different.
What Can I Use a Chainsaw For?
Ever need some wood chopped, and quick? Cue the chainsaw. Homeowners will most commonly use chainsaws to chop down dead trees, cut logs for timber, prune big branches, trim bushes, cut trees that are in the way or sculpt hedges. Of course, there are more unconventional things you can do with a chainsaw like make sculptures out of ice or wood, cut holes for ice fishing, or quickly cutting scrap wood.
Different Types of Chainsaws
There are a few major types of chainsaw. The first of which is an electrically-powered chainsaw. In this group, you’ll find corded and cordless varieties.
Corded chainsaws have an electrical cord that connects to the back of your tool. To use this, you need to be plugged into an electrical socket, and you can’t wander too far away from it. Most of the time, the cord is a couple of feet, but of course, you can throw an extension cord on the end and go even farther.
Cordless chainsaws, on the other hand, don’t have the restriction of needing live electricity nearby to operate. Instead, they have a battery pack that delivers the power to the motor. The battery pack can add a decent amount of weight to the tool, but you don’t need to worry about accidentally cutting the power cable as you’re swinging around your saw. Make sure you keep track of your battery’s expected life, you don’t want to run out of juice mid-cut. When the battery’s done, so are you.
The next type of chainsaw is the gas-powered chainsaw. This is the most popular type for homeowners and pros. A small combustion engine is housed inside of your chainsaw that quickly spins the chain to operate your tool. You don’t have to worry about being plugged into anything, and when you run out of gas you can get back to cutting as soon as you fill it back up. This is the preferred tool because it’s more powerful, more efficient, and easier to use on-the-go.
An honorable mention is the pocket chainsaw. It’s unconventional because it doesn’t need any power to operate – it’s completely hand-operated. Faster than a handsaw, the pocket chainsaw is just a chain with teeth on it. You connect a pole to either end and crank from side to side until you cut through. But we aren’t going to cover these in this review.
Things to Consider When Shopping For a Chainsaw
As mentioned earlier, not all chainsaws are created equal. Already we were introduced to 4 different types of chainsaws, and there are additional variations in each of those categories. Things might seem overwhelming but there are a few things to consider that will help narrow down your choices.
The first thing to consider is what level of noise you can get away with making while using your chainsaw. If you are in a location where you need to keep the noise at a minimum – namely trimming trees early in the morning in a neighborhood – you should steer away from gas-powered chainsaws. They produce like an outboard motor, and you’ll get a lot of angry letters if you use it early in the morning.
Electric chainsaws are a lot quieter. Kind of like comparing a Tesla to a boosted Hemi. For this reason, they’re the clear winner when it comes to keeping the noise level down.
Type of Jobsite
Another big consideration is the type of job site you’ll be working on. If you’re in a location that doesn’t have running electricity, obviously you can’t use a corded electric chainsaw. This is also true if the job requires a lot of moving around between cuts. Unplugging and replugging your chainsaw might get annoying between cuts if you have to walk a long distance.
If you’re at a remote site and you’ll be working there for many hours or days, you should reconsider a cordless electric drill. You can only bring so many backup batteries, and once they’re all dead, your job is done until you recharge. Battery packs aren’t light, either. Cordless chainsaws are noticeably heavier than corded ones.
If you need to use a chainsaw on a site that’s tough to traverse, or you’ll be working for a while without many breaks, a gas-powered chainsaw might not be ideal for you. They are typically a lot bigger and heavier than their electric brethren. Also, they’ll put a lot of strain on your body if you use it for an extended period. It’s definitely a huge plus that you don’t have to worry about getting tangled around a cord, but the weight and size hurt the tool’s maneuverability.
A typical use of a cordless chainsaw is around an hour. This means you can cut for one continuous hour before the battery dies. As you probably have found out about your phone battery, every time a battery is used, heated up, charged, and re-used, the battery doesn’t last quite as long. Every cycle eats a bit of the life of the battery, so continued use will yield less and less cutting time.
Of course, corded chainsaws don’t have a battery so they can cut until the cows come home, granted you’ve got a working electrical outlet to plug into. Additionally, over the lifetime of a corded chainsaw, you will see a lot less maintenance.
Gas-powered chainsaws don’t rely on electricity, just a mixture of oil and gas. As long as you’ve got those, you can quickly refuel and get right back to cutting. The downside is it needs a lot more maintenance to the tool over its lifetime.
Tips For Using a Chainsaw
If it isn’t abundantly obvious, chainsaws are not toys. They can take off limbs, appendages, and lethally injure people who use them improperly. Like every other power-tool, there is a safe way to operate it.
Before even turning on your chainsaw, you want to make sure you have hearing protection, safety glasses, long sleeve pants, and a long sleeve shirt, gloves, and good boots. Now you can fire it up.
Your chainsaw will have a guarded trigger, and an additional grip with a guard in front of it. This was designed very intentionally. Because of the physics of cutting, there is a lot of force that wants to flip the chainsaw back right into you. You want to make sure you have your right hand operating the trigger, and your left hand firmly grasping the front handle. While you’re cutting, mind your feet and look out for tripping hazards. Plant your feet firmly, and keep your eyes glued to your chainsaw until you release your finger.
So now you’re an expert on chainsaws, let’s start looking at the perfect tool for you! A reminder that all of these are available online for under $200. We’ll take a look at different chainsaws that are all perfect for certain jobs, and some that are more well-rounded tools.
Remington RM4216 16-Inch Gas Powered Chainsaw: Best Overall
You simply can’t put together a best-of budget chainsaws without the Remington being in the top 3. This powerful gas-powered chainsaw checks a lot of the boxes. It’s got the power you need in the form of a mighty 42cc engine. The bar feels miles long, measuring at 16”. The start is really easy and the grip is comfortable. This chainsaw also comes with a professional case to carry it which just makes things easier. The main complaint with this chainsaw is that when you’re at full throttle, you’ll see torque loss. Additionally, some customers have complained about oil leaking while it’s being stored.
Poulan Pro PR5020 Gas Chainsaw: Best in Power
Now comes the heavyweight champion in this category, Poulan’s mighty gas-powered chainsaw. It boasts a huge 50cc engine and a long 20-inch bar. It just barely makes this list, just a few cents short of $200, but worth every penny. The starter is string-assisted which means an easier start to the chainsaw and less damage to the internal mechanisms. This thing is a beast on the job site, effortlessly gliding through the wood. It comes with a carrying case and can be used on more intense projects. Of course, with great power comes great weight. This is one of the heaviest chainsaws on this list.
WORX WG304.1 18 Inch Corded Electric Chainsaw: Best Value
A well-known name in the chainsaw world, Worx knocked it out of the park with this electric chainsaw. It boasts a 15-amp motor and an 18-inch bar. The chain system is auto-tensioning and the oil lubrication system is automatic as well. Less for you to worry about while using this chainsaw. It’s a little heavier than you’d expect for an electric chainsaw, especially a corded one. Though that’s to say it’s still a lot lighter than it’s 18” gas-powered competitors. It’s well-weighted which leads to a good overall feel while using it.
Husqvarna 120 Mark II 16 Inch Gas Chainsaw
This beauty designed by Husqvarna is another chainsaw that comes to mind when considering the top cost-conscious chainsaws. It’s got a gas-powered engine and a 16” bar. This chainsaw is for more casual-users, as it doesn’t have the power of other gas chainsaws in this price category. It’s fairly lightweight, has a ton of safety features, and has an easy tensioning system. The big seller about this chainsaw is its low fuel consumption; this equates to a lot more use without having to stop to refuel. The two main downsides for this Husqvarna gas chainsaw is it seems a little under-powered when it’s compared to other tools (because it was designed for a casual user), and there have been reported troubles starting it in cold weather.
DEWALT DCCS620B 12 Inch Cordless Electric Chainsaw: Top Seller
Now we take a look at our first featured cordless electric chainsaw, DeWalt’s poster child. This is the #1 top-selling chainsaw on Amazon. It offers a 12-inch bar and a 20V motor. It’s the lightest chainsaw on this list, so definitely worth considering if you need to minimize weight. It tips the scales right under 9 lbs. Its brushless motor turns out a great run time and overall motor life. This chainsaw is really good for light DIY projects and light construction. It also has very low kickback upon using it, and the chain tensioning is tool-free which is always a good thing. Of course, it doesn’t have the power or the length of other chainsaws at this price range.
BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 Cordless Electric Chainsaw
Of course, wherever DeWalt is, B&D is sure to be. These guys are the gurus when it comes to low-cost power tools, and of course, their chainsaw is no exception. This chainsaw is one of the top 20 sellers on Amazon, and there’s a lot of reasons why. It has a strong 40V motor and a 12-inch bar. It weighs in just a tick over 10 pounds which makes it a pretty comfortable chainsaw to use. Couple this with its ergonomic design and comfortable grip, and you’ll be able to cut for longer without breaks. Its handle wraps around which means you get to enjoy cutting in different orientations. The tensioning is very fast for this tool. There are 3 LEDs that will indicate the chainsaws expected battery life remaining. The big downside is that the tool seems to drink oil up, and the oil isn’t included with your purchase – so be sure to get a lot.
Additional Tools and Equipment Required
So now we have our dream chainsaw, and we didn’t even spend that much! Let’s talk a bit about what else you need before you’re reading to start breezing through lumber.
Briefly mentioned before, safety is hugely important when using a chainsaw. They aren’t as forgiving as a hammer when it comes to potential injury. For that reason, here is the list of safety equipment you will want to consider purchasing before starting up your chainsaw:
A helmet (can integrate ear protection as well as safety visor), a jacket, hearing protection, a visor or goggles or safety glasses, chainsaw safety mitts, chainsaw trousers (made of a specific material), and finally a nice pair of gloves and boots.
A quick consideration before putting on safety gear is asking yourself “which body part do I not want to lose?”, then covering that body part up with protective gear.
Sharpening Kit and Depth Gauge
If you’re cutting frozen or hard material, you might notice your saw blades’ teeth wearing quickly. Not to worry, you just need a sharpening kit and depth gauge and you’ll be right as rain. Sometimes you’ll want to sharpen after every gas tank or every other gas tank. It’s nice to pair up these two events so every time you fill up your tank you remember you have to sharpen your blade as well.
Oil For Your Chainsaw
Oil is one of the most important tools needed when it comes to owning and using a chainsaw. In the same way that your car needs an oil change to keep running, your chainsaw also needs regular oil changes. If you’re using a gas chainsaw you can use pre-mixed fuel and oil for your 2-stroke engine. Otherwise, you will definitely need a low-friction oil for your bar and chain to keep it lubricated.
Now you have enough information to go out there and start cutting! Remember to practice extreme caution when using a chainsaw. Arm yourself with all of the right safety gear. Don’t forget to stock up on oil, and a sharpening kit for your chainsaw too.
Think about the job you’re looking to do before narrowing down your chainsaw categories. If you need something heavy and strong, and you don’t mind the noise, you should pick a gas-powered chainsaw. If you need something light and durable with low maintenance, pick a corded electric chainsaw. Finally, if you’re going to be in a remote site with no access to an electrical outlet and you can’t afford the added weight of a gas-powered chainsaw, you should choose a battery-operated cordless electric chainsaw.
There are a lot of choices to be made when it comes to purchasing a new low-cost chainsaw. This list of the best chainsaws under $200 will definitely come in handy when it comes to making the ultimate decision though. What are you waiting for? Get chopping!