Gas Vs Battery Chainsaws for Large Trees

Trees fall across my access trails in the areas that I hunt, and I often carry a chainsaw in my truck to remove them. In 2023 I had a huge oak fall along my path into the intersection of two hedgerows which had more than 100 years of growth of vines, privet hedge, and wild shrubs. This was the worst tangled mess of tree tops, vines, and general junk that I had ever encountered. The base of the tree was 40 inches in diameter and its branches and limbs were a foot wide tapering to the tops some of which had been twisted off by storms and regrown, forming a Medusa-like tangle of vines and limbs.

This was not a task that I could accomplish quickly or easily. Ultimately it took a month for me to cut, move, burn, and haul away enough of the tree to clear my trail sufficiently to allow access to my property. While I was cutting I made a series of videos about the process on my YouTube channel under the general title of Cutting Difficult Trees, which these certainly qualified as being.

A wall of tangled branches and vines was across the trail to the extent that I could not even see the tree.

I largely cut out and burned these relatively small limb ends by cutting and bundling with a rope before dragging them out with my golf cart. The intertangled vines and tops were strong enough that it was like pulling against ropes and wires most of which had to be cut free before I could extract them. These experiences resulted in the second video which I subtitled “Medusa’s Lair.” Ultimately I disposed of a sufficient amount of the smaller tops that I could actually start pulling two-inch branches out of the tangle and expose some of the larger limbs. I did not like to put so much stress on my Club Cab golf cart and winch. I fired up my lawnmower to help pull these out into the yard so I could more easily work on them.

I used my truck winch to extract the four-inch branches. I tried to work during the cooler parts of the day between thunderstorms or in the mornings and afternoons. This was just not a task that an 80-year-old guy was going to do by himself very quickly. My Echo chainsaw needed a new chain which I replaced, but when I started it, the saw smoked to the extent that I thought the oiler had failed. As it turned out, this chain was of proper length, but of the wrong dimensions and tore up the drive sprocket. I took it in for repair and ordered a Greenworks battery-powered chainsaw which came with an 80-volt battery and charging unit.

While without saws I hauled away more of the cut debris which threatened to catch my feet and cause me to fall with almost every step – particularly when I was carrying something like a running chainsaw. I no longer had the stability and quick-reaction capability to work in this tangle-foot environment, so I took the time to clear it down to soil as I cut further and further into the tree. The Greenworks saw arrived and once the battery was charged and the chain oil added, it cut very rapidly. More wood was worked out and carted away until I was left with an overhanging branch. As you can see in the following video.

That limb above my head will fall in a few years, but I wanted to take it now while I was able to do it.

One aspect of the battery-powered chainsaw that was particularly useful was that I did not have to climb with a running saw. Except for going up a tree in my climbing stand, my tree-climbing days are over. I used a ladder that was well-braced against the tree to make a cut through the branch. One thing I should have done was to undercut the branch for about an inch as you will see in the video. The 15-pound saw was sufficiently handy that I could hold it with one hand and cut while I stabilized myself with the other.

With a large limb on the ground which was more or less the size of a typical yard tree, I decided to do a comparison cutting test between the Echo gas saw and the Greenworks battery saw. You can see this test in the concluding video. The saws were well matched in that they both weighted 15 pounds, were within and inch the same length and width. Their cutting characteristics were similar in that they could cut about the same amount of wood on a single battery charge or tank of gas.

The advantages of the Greenworks saw were that you did not have to worry about gas mixes, or having to attempt to start a sometimes difficult chainsaw, particularly after it might have set up for a year or more between uses. Its disadvantages are that it is not as robustly constructed in that some of its parts appear flimsy compared to the typical gasoline chainsaw.

The Echo saw may be used anywhere in that it does not need a recharge station. But any user needs to be concerned about keeping fuel for it and having it periodically maintained. For the typical homeowner who might need a chainsaw once every few years to cut a tree or limb out of his yard, the Greenworks saw, does have a place. With a single charged battery it could cut that limb or small tree out of your driveway or off the road. With solar panels or a generator you could recharge its battery if your house was without power. For working away from home, the Echo saw is the clear winner for cutting large trees. For the smaller ones, the Greenworks saw will do fine. My plan would be to carry the Greenworks in the truck and go back for the Echo saw for the really big stuff.

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