You’ve got a lawn mower and maybe a string trimmer and a leaf blower, so what about adding a chainsaw to your arsenal of outdoor equipment? Whether it’s for cutting firewood, cleaning up after a storm, or doing other backyard chores, a chainsaw can save you a lot of time. Consumer Reports just finished testing some and reveals which ones can tackle the toughest tasks.
CR looks for a number of safety features when assessing chainsaws. One of them is a cover for the blade to protect you from getting cut when the saw isn’t in use. CR also looks for a chain break, which is designed to engage and stop the blade from spinning if you get a kickback while you’re cutting.
The biggest surprise in CR’s tests is how much battery-powered chainsaws have improved over the years. The EGO CS-1804 for $350 is the best of the battery-powered models and is very easy to use.
For smaller jobs, consider a CR Best Buy, the Ryobi 40550 for $250. It cuts almost as fast but has a slightly shorter cutting bar, and the batteries need to be recharged.
If you’re the type to wait and do all of your cutting on a weekend, you might be better served by a gas chainsaw, because you can cut indefinitely as long as you keep adding fuel. The top-rated Jonsered CS2245 for $320 is a good option.
For lighter-duty jobs, the Stihl MS-180 C-BE for $250 is a CR Best Buy.
When you’re operating a chainsaw, it’s important to wear proper safety gear. CR recommends a helmet with a face shield, chaps, hearing protection, protective gloves, and sturdy shoes. If that sounds daunting, and your trees are small with branches no more than 4 inches in diameter, consider using an electric lopper, which some homeowners find less intimidating than a chainsaw.