Chainsaws are invaluable tools for chopping up firewood, clearing trees and branches that fall during a storm, and keeping your yard under control. However, if you’re someone who doesn’t need to use a chainsaw regularly, understandably you may be reluctant to spend too much money buying one. If this sounds like you, there are plenty of inexpensive options out there that are ideal for infrequent or casual use. To help you choose, I’ve put together a list of my top picks for the best budget chainsaw.
What to Look for When Picking a Chainsaw
Let’s start with what you should be looking for and what you need to take time to understand when it comes to picking and operating a chainsaw. There are safety measures and maintenance required for chainsaw owners. To better understand everything, I’ve created a summary of what you need to know.
Protection and Safety
It’s vital that you ensure you’re wearing the correct attire whenever you’re operating a chainsaw. You must wear durable clothing but also be sure that the clothing doesn’t restrict movement. You want to be able to move freely. Protective gear like gloves and a face shield can protect you from any debris that comes when cutting wood. This could be pieces of wood, sawdust, small branches, leaves, etc.
Kickbacks are the number one danger to look out for when operating a chainsaw. If you hit rocks or dirt when using a chainsaw, which does happen when cutting fallen trees or branches that are on the ground, your chainsaw can jerk backward violently. Luckily, chainsaws today have vibration mitigation systems that let you have better control over the chainsaw and specialized ANSI-standard low-kickback chains.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration also known as OSHA, takes note of specific chainsaw parts as part of their safety recommendations in the workplace.
- Chain Catcher – A protective guard that shields the operator from the chain if the chain were to break.
- Flywheel – a weighted wheel that cools the engine and controls its speed.
- Clutch – the clutch is attached to the chain sprocket which allows better control of the chain drive.
- Decompression Valve – releases chainsaw compression for the chainsaw to start.
- Anti-vibration system – OSHA recommends this for lower operator fatigue.
- Handguard – A protective guard that protects the operator’s hands in case of kickback.
- Muffler – reduces the noise a gas chain saw produces.
- Chain Break – a required chainsaw feature that stops the chain if kickback were to happen.
Gas-powered Chainsaw Components:
- Throttle – regulates the rotation of the chain by controlling fuel intake.
- Throttle Interlock – stops the throttle from activating before interlock activation.
Bar and Chain
The bar and chain of a chainsaw determine the size of the trees you can cut and influence how well you can control the chainsaw. Chainsaws for the home are usually around 10-inch to 16-inch in length, while professional chainsaws are 18-inch to 24-inch.
Types of Chainsaw Motors/Engine
A gas chainsaw would generally come in two motor types: 2-cycle and 4-cycle while an electric chainsaw also has two versions: battery-powered and corded.
A 2-cycle motor, also known as a 2-stroke motor, mixes oil, air, and gasoline for its internal combustion. There are two main benefits of getting a chainsaw with a 2-cycle motor: the chainsaw will be lightweight and have fast chain acceleration.
2-cycle motors can be found on smaller chainsaws that rely on the speed of the chain to cut wood rather than torque. This also means when using a chainsaw with a 2-cycle motor you should cut softer woods as the chainsaw can lose power when cutting tougher hardwood.
A 4-cycle motor offers a more powerful and complex engine displacement output for the chainsaw. It uses four internal combustion processes.
This kind of motor is most commonly found in professional-level chainsaws. 4-cycle motors deliver an increased torque at the cost of lower acceleration. This can cut wood much easier and is useful for harder wood normally used for industrial logging.
Battery Powered Motor
A battery-powered motor uses several different battery types to operate the chainsaw in comparison to the combustion system that gas-powered chainsaws use.
A lot of newer chainsaws use battery power because of the increased portability and lighter weight. However, there is a drawback. They don’t perform as well as gas-powered chainsaws do because battery power fluctuates when cutting. Battery-powered chainsaws are best for lighter tasks.
Corded Electric Motor
Corded electric chainsaws are powerful alternatives to gas-powered chainsaws. This is because the electrical power is more consistent when cutting.
You can choose from varying degrees of voltages in these types of chainsaws, so it’s important to note what voltage your chainsaw is! This is because you need to be sure that it’s compatible with your generator or work area.
There is a drawback to corded chainsaws, while they’re great for avoiding exhaust fumes and fuel issues, it’s not very portable enough. You can only move as far as the cord length allows. Proper cord management is also a must to avoid any mishaps.
Best Practices to Take Care of Your Chainsaw
Even though you’re looking to get a cheaper, budget-friendly chainsaw, that doesn’t mean you should treat it as such. Proper maintenance can elongate the chainsaws life, proper maintenance should be done on all of your power tools.
Practice Proper Storage
Practicing proper storage is a must, it’s important to keep your chainsaw out of direct sunlight when it’s not in use. UV light can damage metals slowly over time and cause them to lose some of their durability. There are chainsaw bags available so I recommend you choose a good one to keep it away from unwanted moisture and light.
Empty the Fuel Tank
You should always empty the fuel tank in the off-season or if it hasn’t been used in three months. This will keep any fuel mixture build-up from accumulating in the tank. Keep your running smoothly and easy to start by keeping the fuel tank clean.
Your chainsaw should be regularly dismantled to make sure everything is in working order. For internal cleaning, you have to learn how to properly take the chainsaw apart to ensure you don’t damage any parts and give each piece a good cleaning.
Also, consider applying mineral-grade oil to add a protective coating. This will prevent corrosion and add some resistance.
Keeping the chain sharp with sharpening is essential! It will keep your chainsaw cutting as good as it did when you first got it.
Whether you buy an expensive chainsaw or a cheap one, a chainsaw chain will go dull eventually! But luckily, sharpening the chain doesn’t require much. You will need a few tools like a flat file, round file, and possibly a Dremel tool.
You’ll need a bit of practice to get the shape you need, but that beats having to purchase a whole new chainsaw chain.
Choosing the Best Value Chainsaw
Before we jump into the list of the best budget chainsaws, there are a few things you should consider that will help you pick the right one.
All of the chainsaws you’ll see below are top quality and great options, but not reading this list with the right mindset could cause you to end up with a chainsaw that you’re not 100% happy with.
I want you to ask yourself these three questions to help narrow down the best budget chainsaw for you:
- How Much Do You Want to Spend on a Chainsaw?
Budget chainsaws can range anywhere from $70 to $300. This is quite the range. What’s your realistic budget for a new chainsaw?
- Why Types of Projects Will You Be Doing?
This is a big one. Because the type of chainsaw you purchase will handle certain types of jobs better than others. Will you be cutting down trees, splitting firewood, or trimming limbs? Is your purpose for purchasing the chainsaw very specific or do you want the ability to do everything with it?
- Are There Any Must-Have Chainsaw Features?
Budget chainsaws come in all shapes, sizes, and types. They can include a variety of features. Are there any particular features that you have to have? For example, do you want or need a gas-powered one, or can it be electric or battery operated? Does it need to have a lightweight design, under 10 pounds? An automatic chain oiler, etc.
If you only have some answers or don’t have any at all, don’t worry! Just be sure that you keep these questions in mind as you continue to read the rest of this guide.
The Best Budget Chainsaws – Reviewed
Here are the best budget chainsaws that are available today.
Hitachi CS51EAP Top Handle Chainsaw
The Hitachi CS51EAP 50 cc Top Handle Chainsaw is a high-quality top handle chainsaw. I put this chainsaw in this list because it gives you the bang for your buck! The engine is 50cc with an anti-vibration system. The anti-vibration system makes it easy to use and can handle a variety of tasks!
It has a 14-inch bar and chain making this chainsaw the right size for cutting small trees, cleaning up after storms, and pruning. The CS51EAP also comes with a tool-less chain and bar adjustment feature as well as an automatic oiler. All of these things will extend the life of the chainsaw. It weighs 12.2 pounds and includes the features throttle trigger lockout for increased safety and an inertia chain brake. Hitachi offers a 1-year limited warranty on this chainsaw and all of its other products.
Husqvarna 435 16-Inch 2-Stroke Gas-Powered Chainsaw
The Husqvarna 435 16-inch 2-stroke Gas Powered Chainsaw is one of the lightest chainsaws in its class. It weighs 10.8 pounds and comes with a bag to make carrying it easier. The engine is a 2-stroke, 40.9 cubic centimeters, X-Torq engine that delivers high power and low emissions. It also features an inertia activated chain brake, this is huge because it offers additional safety in case kickback were to happen.
One Amazon customer who used the Husqvarna 435 16-inch 2-stroke Gas Powered Chainsaw wrote: “This is my second 435. This saw has a good weight-to-power ratio and is extremely useful for brush clearing and limbing. I’ll also use it for cutting firewood lengths when I only have a few cuts or as long as the wood is under the 8-10″ range. For my use, if I only owned one saw, I might want something with a bit more power and versatility but in conjunction with a larger saw having something lightweight is nice for long days with a saw in your hands. Tuning the 435 is a bit more finicky than the larger Husky saws I’ve owned.
Out of the box this one came tuned close enough after a small idle adjustment to use and break in for a while before fine tuning it. I’m a bit suspicious of the Husqvarna X-Force bar supplied with the saw since it doesn’t have a port to greasing the nose sprocket. Seems like a feature which might be a plus for a homeowner and light use applications and a detraction to professional users. Overall, this saw is a good value especially if you’re looking for something a bit more reliable and with more longevity than the box store brands.”
Remington RM4620 Outlaw 20-inch Gas Chainsaw
This chainsaw is designed for the average homeowner. So if you’re someone that looking for a chainsaw that can perform light-duty jobs such as cutting firewood or pruning trees then this is definitely an option to consider.
The Remington RM4620 Outlaw 20-inch Gas Chainsaw is one of the most affordable chainsaws I researched, but don’t let that scare you off. This chainsaw can get a lot done. It has a 46cc engine that’s powerful and provides enough power to complete these yard tasks. This chainsaw model comes with an automatic oiler that feeds the chain so you don’t have to worry about doing it manually!
BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 Lithium Ion Chainsaw
The BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 Lithium Ion Chainsaw is a battery-powered chainsaw that can run for around half an hour on a full charge. However, I would like to note that I can’t recommend that you do heavy work for the whole time. It has an automatic oiling system, and tool-free chain tensioning, and comes with a two-year warranty!
Greenworks Pro GCS80420 18-Inch Cordless Chainsaw
The Greenworks Pro GCS80420 18-inch Cordless Chainsaw is perfect for anyone whos looking for a corded chainsaw but wants the power a gas chainsaw provides. It has an 80V battery that can provide up to 150 cuts per charge. This is perfect for those who complete medium-sized jobs. The 18-inch steel bar allows it to handle tree limbs that are up to 28 inches in diameter. The GCS80420 has a high chain speed, 75 ft./s, that provides fast cutting in no time. I would like to mention that this chainsaw also has a brushless and auto oiling motor. This provides the saw with a long life span and requires less maintenance than other chainsaws.
The Greenworks Pro GCS80420 18-inch chainsaw is cordless, which means you don’t have to worry about possibly tripping over the cord or having to drag around a chainsaw with a heavy gas engine. It’s lightweight, weighing in at only 11 pounds, so you don’t have to worry about getting fatigued quickly. The tool-less chain tensioning makes adjusting the chain fast and simple, which means you can get back to work immediately after making any adjustments.
There are the best budget chainsaws! We hope this buying guide helped you find the best budget chainsaw for you! Do you have a favorite budget chainsaw from this list? Do you own a chainsaw already? If not, are you considering purchasing one now? Please feel free to leave a comment; we would love to hear from you!
Did you enjoy this article? Check out some other articles I have written:
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