Electric vs Gas Chainsaw: Which comes out on top?

Orange electric chainsaw and a blue gas chainsaw side by side.
(Image credit: Amazon)

It's easy to get lost in the electric vs gas chainsaw debate. With so many options, it can be difficult to know which of the best chainsaws are right for you. We caught up with chainsaw experts Gary Whitney from STIGA and Nick Greenway from firepitfanatic.com to learn more. 

When it comes to how useful chainsaws are, Gary Whitney had these thoughts: “Whether you’re in the woods or your garden, heavy-duty tasks, such as felling tough logs and branches, call for robust, durable tools. Chainsaws are ideal for these jobs and there are plenty of different sizes [and] power sources to suit every type of consumer. [They are] ideal for cutting logs for open fires or just general garden clearing/maintenance.”

Before you start splitting logs over your decision, you need to know the differences between the chainsaw styles. There are two types of electric chainsaws to consider - corded and battery-powered. Electric chainsaws are an affordable and energy-efficient option while gas chainsaws bring power and speed. 

But what does a customer need to consider besides the fuel type? Gary Whitney suggests considering: “[The] size of [the] job they need to do, whether they want to look at the environmental impact, [and] what price they want to pay. What features are available on the model they are looking at? They should also ensure they have protective equipment to wear such as goggles, gloves, and clothing.” 

We have broken down the key differences between electric vs gas chainsaws so that you can rev into your next job with the right tool. Read on to discover our tips so you can branch out in your garden maintenance with ease.

Electric vs Gas Chainsaw: Which Is Most Powerful?

The grunt of a chainsaw is crucial to deciding whether you will cut through hardwood like butter or struggle to get through a softwood trunk. It is a little harder to compare electric and gas chainsaws in terms of power as they are measured differently; gas is measured in amps while electric chainsaws are measured in cubic capacity or cc. An example to help you would be that a 15 amp corded chainsaw is similar in power to a low-powered 32 cc gas chainsaw.

It is widely known in lumberjack and landscaper communities that gas chainsaws are the better pick in terms of raw power. Gas chainsaws consistently bring muscle to a project and can be used in commercial lumberjacking and heavy-duty garden clearing. Thanks to the lack of cords or batteries, gas chainsaws can run as long and as far as you need - provided you keep a gas can or two with you as you move. They are also often faster at cutting through wood than their electric counterparts.

In the electric chainsaw world, corded chainsaws are typically more powerful than battery types. Gary Whitney agreed that electric chainsaws are not as powerful as their gas counterparts, stating that: “Electric [chainsaws] are not generally as robust and powerful as [their] petrol equivalents and you also have the issue of having to be near an electric power point and wary of the trailing electrical cable.” 

That being said, Gary does think that electric chainsaws can combine power with freedom depending on the model: “Lightweight and precise, these machines combine power with the benefits of being battery-powered. Think freedom of movement thanks to being cordless, zero emissions, and reduced maintenance.”

Nick Greenway gave his thoughts in support of battery-powered chainsaws: “Battery performance and technology have really come a long way.  A battery-powered chainsaw that's made by a reputable manufacturer is a great tool that can pretty much do all of the same work as a gas chainsaw, just without the messy gas and excessive noise.  The one downfall is battery life.  Unless you have a few spare batteries, your cutting time will be limited.”

If you need power on your side while tackling heavy-duty tasks, we recommend getting a gas chainsaw like the Echo CS-400. If you are less concerned with power and are working on smaller garden maintenance tasks, we recommend trying an electric chainsaw like the Makita XCUO3PTI.

Electric vs Gas Chainsaw: Which Is The Cheapest?

Budget is another key factor when it comes to deciding what chainsaw is best to handle your garden tasks. However, it is crucial to remember that the upfront cost is not the only thing that matters here - fuel and maintenance costs must also be factored in.

In terms of both upfront cost and long-term fuel, corded electric chainsaws are the cheapest of the three styles by far. They are often compact budget models that do not rely on expensive batteries or fuel mixes to get the job done. That being said, they can be expensive to repair or replace if the cord gets damaged on the job. Battery-powered chainsaws are often in the mid-to-high tier when it comes to price. They are cheaper than gas chainsaws to buy and run, but replacing the battery, or purchasing a backup, can be costly. 

Gas chainsaws are the most expensive option both upfront and in the long term. Like with many things, you get what you pay for, and you will be paying for a quality, powerful motor. Gas is also very expensive, and some models require you to buy oil and gas separately before mixing them, which can add up over time. It is also possible to waste gas as you learn to fill your chainsaw, but we have a tutorial series on how to mix chainsaw gas, as well as how to oil a chainsaw chain, to help you.

In short, corded electric chainsaws are typically the cheapest of the bunch. They are then followed by battery chainsaws and gas ones respectively. We recommend considering your budget in advance and trying to get a good deal on your ideal model within that. That being said, beginners may want to try using an electric model regardless as they get used to handling one, as Gary suggests here: “To someone who has never used a chainsaw, they could feel awkward using a chainsaw initially, that is why we recommend battery chainsaws for the beginner. These are well-balanced and easy to use.”

Electric vs Gas Chainsaw: Which Is The Most Durable?

A new chainsaw is an investment - you want to get the most bang for your buck from it, so it has to stand the test of time. The durability of any tool comes down to a mix of factors, including the quality of materials used in its construction, the quality of its build, and how often it is used, among other things. Which is more durable in the electric vs gas chainsaw market?

Generally, gas chainsaws are the most durable option of the three types. This is because they are built to withstand the most heavy-duty of jobs and are often used by professional lumberjacks and landscapers. With proper maintenance, a gas chainsaw can last for a minimum of ten years, making it a well-worn jewel in your gardening toolkit. You may need to replace the motor or other smaller parts, which can be expensive, but it should serve you well overall. 

Electric chainsaws, on the other hand, are a little more prone to wear and tear. Built to withstand small-to-medium-intensity jobs, you may need to replace the battery or cord over time. This can be remedied with maintenance and repairs but does happen. That being said, electric chainsaws can also last up to ten years with proper care, so do not count them out. 

As we briefly mentioned, maintenance is a key element of using your chainsaw. Following a proper maintenance routine for your chainsaw can extend its life beyond the average one-to-six-year warranty, but it can be confusing. We have plenty of guides on how to clean, sharpen the blade, and store your chainsaw so that it can stay in top condition.

Overall, it is pretty tight when it comes to durability. However, we would say that gas chainsaws just edge ahead due to their heavy-duty build and quality materials. If you are unsure how durable your chosen model is, we recommend checking the warranty, product materials, and customer reviews for a better idea.

Electric vs Gas Chainsaw: Which Is Most Energy Efficient?

Energy efficiency has become a much-discussed aspect of gardening tools in the modern world. As climate change continues, customers want to care for the planet while caring for their homes. It can be a little tricky to consider the energy efficiency of chainsaws as they do not receive an Energy Star rating or another similar rank. Which is more energy efficient - electric vs gas chainsaws? 

Electric chainsaws are far and above the more energy efficient of the two. As they rely on electricity to run, they do not create emissions during use and are often quieter. This makes them a highly attractive option for those with a planet-mindful priority or those who live in suburban neighborhoods. 

Gas chainsaws are major emissions machines, but modern models have made strides to improve. You can often find eco-gas fuel or models that focus on efficiency and power, but these models are often more expensive than their standard counterparts. Gas chainsaw fans will note that gas chainsaws cut much faster than electric ones do, which makes them more efficient in terms of speed. 

In terms of energy efficiency, there is almost no contest between electric vs gas chainsaws - electric chainsaws, particularly rechargeable battery models, are the clear winners here. If you need the muscle of a gas chainsaw, it is possible to do your research and find a more eco-friendly model - but be prepared for a price hike.  

Electric vs Gas Chainsaw: Verdict

Whether a gas or electric chainsaw is better will depend on the nature of what jobs you tend to do. 

Electric chainsaws are an affordable and energy-efficient option for anyone looking to do light yard work and simple DIY furniture projects. They work well for beginners and are simpler to maintain. Gas chainsaws are a powerful tool to have at your disposal and make easy work of heavy-duty felling jobs. They are highly mobile and durable but are not as energy-efficient or quiet. 

It is best to consider what tasks you often need a chainsaw for before hiring or purchasing a model. As Nick Greenway puts it: “How often do you plan on using your chainsaw?  If you just need to cut a small amount of campfire wood or clear some brush around your yard, an electric chainsaw would work great.  For bigger jobs, such as cutting large amounts of firewood to heat your home throughout the winter, a gas chainsaw would be a better fit.”

Freelance Writer
With contributions from