Best electric chainsaw 2020: top cordless loppers from the cutting edge of tech

The best cordless chainsaws are just as efficient for most purposes as the fuel-powered ones

best cordless chainsaw: Oregon CS300
(Image credit: Oregon)

The best cordless electric chainsaws do the same job as the petrol-powered monsters, bun unlike them, they don't make an absolute din, vibrate like hell and weigh a ton. It's a much more modern and convenient way to prune branches, cut down trees, and murder hitchhikers.

This an ordered chart of specifically cordless, electric chainsaws, so you know which one to buy. You can still buy a few chainsaws with cords but being boring old health and safety nerds, we just aren't that keen on devices that combine razor-sharp, whirring blades with flimsy cables containing hundreds and hundreds of volts of electricity. However, if you're after a corded or petrol-powered model then mosey on over to our Best chainsaws 2020 buyers' guide.

What is the best battery-powered electric chainsaw?

Our top spot goes to the new and remarkably handy Stihl GTA 26, a small-scale cut buddy for light gardening duties.

Second place goes to the magnificent Oregon CS300, a more than capable beast that scythes through anything made of wood. 

However, don’t rule out the exceptional Stihl MSA 120 C-BQ and the compact Bosch UniversalChain 18, or indeed any of the models on this carefully curated page.

Also keep an eye on our Black Friday hub for potential big savings in the not-too-distant future.

Cordless electric chainsaw buying guide

Petrol chainsaws may have more machismo to them but they aren't only off-putting due to their horror movie associations. Believe me, you ain’t seen scary till you’re halfway up a tree trying to hold onto something that is doing everything in its power to behead you.

Cordless chainsaws on the other, unsevered, hand, are a much more sedate option. Yes, they will still hurt you if mistreated, but they don’t vibrate as much and they certainly don’t make anything like as much of a racket. They’re not attached to a cord either, which means you’re not tied to the mains while using something that is just itching to cut through the cable. With a cordless model you can wield that baby anywhere you like, within reason of course.

Cordless chainsaws work in exactly the same way as petrol and electric models and they all come with a raft of safety cut off features. Most models will carry on running for at least 20 minutes on a full battery charge, which, in real world terms, amounts to a lot of cutting. Cordless chainsaws are naturally heavier than electric models but much lighter than petrol ones. 

Chainsaws, even cordless ones, do require a little TLC from time to time. Firstly, you’ll need to purchase some bona fide chainsaw oil and keep the reservoir topped up. This reservoir feeds the chain and gears little drips at a time, making everything run smoothly. You might also need to put the chain on yourself, which ideally requires a pair of gloves. 

You also need to make sure the chain is put on in the correct orientation or it won’t make any impact on the wood and cause the wood to start smoking through friction. This is an easy mistake to make (read our Ryobi review) so look for the little arrows on the chain and the main unit and you’ll get it right first time. Now go forth and start giving those branches what for. 

The best cordless electric chainsaws, in order

Best cordless chainsaw: Stihl GTA 26T3 Best Buy logo

(Image credit: Stihl)

1. Stihl GTA 26

Best chainsaw for regular light duties

Specifications
Power: 11v
Bar length: 10cm
Weight: 1.2kgs
Battery included as standard?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant option for casual pruning+Cuts quickly+Light and comfortable+Good safety features
Reasons to avoid
-Motor stalls if forced-For light work only

•Buy the Stihl GTA 26 from FR Jones and Son

This titchy 10cm cordless chainsaw – or motorised pruner as Stihl describes it – is one of the most versatile tools you can have in the shed. Since the act of pruning often involves more than just trimming stalks and thin branches, a mini tool like this can save a lot of time and effort, especially when it comes to cutting off branches too wide for a pair of loppers.

Stihl has absolutely nailed the design of the GTA 26 – it’s remarkably light in the hand (1.2kgs), really well balanced and wonderfully grippy, and its 10cm chain bar easily slices through branches and even logs up to about 8cm in diameter. Although two hands are recommended when operating it, it’s just as easy to use one handed, especially when reaching taller branches. 

However, given that it’s designed ostensibly for ‘light’ cutting duties, it’s best to let the chain blade do the work because adding too much pressure during the cut – especially at the initial stage – will likely lock up the chain and cause everything to come to a grinding halt.

For safety reasons, the GTA 26 is equipped with a thumb switch on either side (good for both right- and left-handed users) that must be activated before pressing the trigger. This is to prevent accidentally turning it on and causing bloody mayhem. It also comes with a hinged plastic guard above the chain that moves up and away when cutting larger branches. It serves two purposes: protecting the user from the high-speed chain and deflecting flying wood chips. 

We got about ten minutes of cutting time out of it which isn’t bad considering the dinky size of the 10.8 volt battery. That said, I would suggest purchasing an extra AS2 battery (around £25) if you plan to use it extensively.

This writer was pretty gobsmacked at how effective this mini garden buddy was when tested on a variety of branches and some small fire logs. It cut cleanly and quickly with almost zero fuss. It’s well packaged, too, coming in a natty protective case with battery, charger and a bottle of chain oil. Highly recommended.

best cordless chainsaw: Oregon CS300 (586641)

(Image credit: Oregon)

2. Oregon CS300

Best long-bar chainsaw for heavy duty tasks

Specifications
Power: 36v
Bar length: 40cm
Weight: 5.4kgs without battery
Battery included as standard?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Amazing power+Cuts trunks up to 8-inches in diameter+High torque brushless motor+Excellent self sharpening system+Battery lasts forever
Reasons to avoid
-It's heavy-You'll need to fit the chain

If you’re planning to embark on some serious large-scale topiary and need a cordless brushless model powerful enough to deal with trunks up to a whopping 8 inches (10 at a push) in diameter, then this high-end 36v beast from renowned USA power tool behemoth Oregon is the way to go.

Oregon invented the type of chain used in most modern chainsaws so it clearly knows its stuff. This model is supremely powerful and no lightweight when it comes to dealing with pruning on a massive scale. Put another way, the optional 6Ah battery we received with it is good for about 600 cuts – which frankly equates to a small forest. That said, the Oregon CS300 is also available with a smaller 2.6Ah battery or even no battery at all – the best option for those who already own an Oregon garden tool.

We tried it out on an apple tree and its 40cm (16-inch) chain bar literally scythed through a four-inch branch as if it was made of blancmange. It’s a solidly-built, heavyweight beast mind (it weighs 5.4 kilos without the battery), so you may need to rest between cuts if using it horizontally to cut down a tree. However, that extra weight came into its own when cutting up a pre-felled tree trunk using a parallel log holder. I simply let the weight of the unit do all the work and it was through all eight inches of it in seven seconds flat. I’ve since watched a video of a logger cutting through a trailer’s worth of wood and the battery produced full power right up to the last drop of juice. Impressive.

Another brilliant thing about this model is that it comes with its own built-in chain sharpener. Simply run the motor, pull on the red handle for about two seconds and the chain is automatically sharpened in a shower of sparks. Nice.

Now, we must warn you that you will need to fit the chain yourself and the instructions aren’t really that clear for anyone who has never fitted a chain before. The secret is to wear a pair of slim garden gloves and mount the chain around the bar first and then place it over the drive wheel (don’t forget to mount the chain the right way round). Once attached, you can then refit the plastic cover and adjust the exterior chain tensioner according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Granted, this isn’t the model to buy if you’re an urbanite with just a few log cutting tasks in mind. But for anyone with a large garden or a woodland to maintain, this cordless model is about as good as it gets. It’s wonderfully quiet too – for a chainsaw.

Best cordless chainsaw: Greenworks GD40CS15

(Image credit: Greenworks)

3. Greenworks GD40CS15

The best 14-inch cordless chainsaw

Specifications
Power: 40v
Bar length: 35cm
Weight: 3.2kgs
Battery included as standard?: No
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+Good run time+Comes with fitted chain

Buy the Greenworks GD40CS15 from Amazon

This mean Greenworks is equipped with a long 35cm (14-inch) bar and chain, a brushless motor that will last forever, and a full gamut of safety features, including the obligatory brake guard hand protector that must be pulled back to engage the drive. The whole shebang is powered by a large 40-volt Li-Ion battery that runs for around 25 minutes on a full 90-minute charge.

The Greenworks is available with or without a battery and charger. If you already have one of the company’s excellent lawnmowers, you’re in luck since the batteries are easily swappable. Otherwise you’ll need to fork out another £120 or so for the battery and charger. You will also need to buy some chain oil for its 200ml oil tank but luckily it’s readily available at most hardware stores (B&Q produces its own brand at £6.28 a litre).

For a 14-inch cordless chainsaw, this model is surprisingly light; something you’ll come to appreciate if out in the rough for a period of time. Performance wise, this monster is extremely efficient at cutting though tree trunks, branches and logs up to an impressive 30cm (12 inches) in diameter; as long as you adopt the seesaw technique you should have no trouble using it. 

The other huge bonus with this excellent cordless trunk trimmer is that it comes with the chain ready fitted so there’s no chance of cocking up by putting it on the wrong way round. A great cordless choice for serious lumberjacks.

Best cordless chainsaw: Stihl MSA 120 C-BQ

4. Stihl MSA 120 C-BQ

Best 'prosumer' electric chainsaw

Specifications
Power: 36v
Bar length: 30cm
Weight: 2.5kgs
Battery included as standard: No
Reasons to buy
+Nice and light+Quite quiet

Stihl is the chainsaw brand of choice among professional tree surgeons, so the German-based tool manufacturer must be doing something right. The MSA 120 is a brilliant, albeit slightly pricy cordless chainsaw. It comes with a similar 12-inch bar (30cm) and feature set to the Ryobi below.

Stihl’s Ematic oil admin system is said to ‘reduce bar oil consumption by up to 50%’. There's also a fuss-free brushless motor, tool-less chain tensioning and a two-stage battery insert system that prevents accidental use while transporting it. For those of you who don’t already own a Stihl product, the battery and charger is available separately. Expect around 35 minutes of sawing on a full charge.

This is the perfect chainsaw for lucky folk with nice big fireplaces and a woodland out the back – please, no cutting down of living trees or we’ll set Prince Charles onto you. It tackles six-inch logs, smaller tree trunks and wide branches with ease, is light in the hand, pretty quiet and – like most other Stihl products – exceedingly reliable.

Best cordless chainsaw: Ryobi OCS1830

5. Ryobi OCS1830

Close rival to the Stihl above

Specifications
Power: 18v
Bar length: 30cm
Weight: 3.2kgs
Battery included as standard: No
Reasons to buy
+Compact+Quite quiet
Reasons to avoid
-Martian instruction manual

Right, here’s today’s lesson on how not to assemble your chainsaw. As is the case with so many chainsaws, this small-bodied 30cm (12-inch) model required fitting the chain to the bar. What could possibly go wrong?

In my defence, the Ryobi instructions are anything but clear, and as a consequence I didn’t notice the teeny-weeny chain direction arrows on the bar and on the chain so inadvertently put it on the wrong way round. A genuine schoolboy error that sometimes even catches out some chainsaw pros. The result? Just a lot of smoke from the overheated chain and absolutely no impression on the log trying to be cut. Bear this in mind because wrong chain orientation is the most common problem with chainsaw owners. I would suggest watching the official Ryobi instructional video for extra peace of mind.

With the chain in the correct orientation, the little 18v Ryobi made incredibly short work of the task in hand; it literally carved through the log like the proverbial butter. Like all good chainsaws, this one is fitted with an impressively reliable brushless motor, a reassuring hand protector and a plastic sheath for the chain bar. It also comes with a little bottle of chainsaw oil.

As is so often the case with power tools these days, this one is packaged without a battery and charger so you’ll need to fork out a bit more – unless you already own a Ryobi product that uses the same style of battery.

In the arena of regular gardening tasks, this one’s a great option. It’s not too big or heavy and it tackles weekly log-sawing duties with aplomb.

Best cordless chainsaw: Bosch UniversalChain 18

6. Bosch UniversalChain 18

A great compact chainsaw with neat safety feature

Specifications
Power: 18v
Bar length: 20cm
Weight: 3kgs
Battery incl: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Excellent anti-kickback feature+Decent run time+Compact
Reasons to avoid
-Short chain bar restricts use

This compact 20cm cordless cutter comes with a ‘stabilising tip protector’ that minimises branch damage and reduces kickback – the alarming moment when a chainsaw is suddenly propelled backwards or downwards because the blade has hit an especially tough knot of wood. A feature like this is very handy for those who are a bit apprehensive about using a chainsaw, especially if balancing on a ladder halfway up a tree. It also saves the chain from hitting the ground when sawing logs or anything else at ground level.

The Bosch UniversalChain 18 weighs in at a reasonable 3kgs and is equipped with an 18v Lithium-Ion battery that provides around 40 cuts per one-hour charge. You will have to fit the chain and chain bar yourself, mind, but this is pretty easy to do. You will also need to buy some chain oil before firing it up or the chain and bar will overheat, reducing their lifespan.

If you only require occasional use of a chainsaw and want one that does the job well without being too daunting to use, then put this one on the shopping list.

Best cordless chainsaw: Black & Decker GKC1825L20

7. Black & Decker GKC1825L20

Best budget electric chainsaw

Specifications
Power: 18v
Bar length: 25cm
Weight: 3.1kgs
Battery included as standard: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Very compact+Highly affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Shortish run time-Not for the heavy stuff

Here’s a fab, keenly-priced mid-size option for those with only occasional chainsaw needs. It comes with a battery and charger, too. With many contented users online, the B&D is very well balanced and capable of scything through branches, trunks and logs up to about ten inches in diameter. Although it’s more comfortable dealing with smaller stuff, one adventurous owner on Amazon reckons he’s felled and logged 15 trees using this little fella without so much as a glitch. He must have one hell of a garden.

The 18v battery doesn’t last much past 20 minutes, mind, so you might consider purchasing a spare. Otherwise, this is a great, budget-priced model for beginners, those who require a chainsaw only for occasional use, and the odd enthusiast with a passion for domestic forestry.

Best Chainsaws of all types