Garden & Outdoor

How to Choose the Best Electric and Petrol Cordless Chainsaws

A chainsaw is an amazing addition to your arsenal of garden tools – making light work of chopping logs, heavy pruning and clearing trees.

Don’t worry if you’ve never used an electric or petrol chainsaw before – we’re here to guide you through everything you need to know, so you can choose the best chainsaw for you and the jobs you need doing around the garden.

Chainsaw features

  • Chain – This metal loop runs around what’s called the ‘chain bar’. They come in all sorts of lengths, but a standard 30cm should be more than long enough for chopping logs and trimming tree branches. If you need extra power for a bigger engine, it’s easy to get longer chain bars. For the best results, try to keep your chain properly tensioned while you work – look for one that can be easily tensioned without needing a tool. If you’re replacing a chain, make sure you match it to the right type.
  • Safety – A ‘chain catcher’ stops the chain if it becomes loose or falls off the chain bar. You can also get chains that reduce kickback or ‘chain brakes’ – these are designed to stop any accidents if the chainsaw jumps backwards.
  • Oil tanks – These keep the blade lubricated with specialist oil while the chain is running. The oil tank of your petrol chainsaw is usually transparent, making it easy to see when it needs a refill.
  • Starting mechanisms – Most modern petrol chainsaws come with easy-to-start features to take the hassle out of getting it going, whereas electric chainsaws turn on at the flip of a switch.

Electric chainsaws will also automatically turn themselves off when you’re not using them, whereas petrol chainsaw engines will idle.

cordless chainsaw

Cordless chainsaws

Great for short jobs, cordless chainsaws are light and manoeuvrable – making them ideal for quick pruning. You can easily carry them around the garden to trim a few branches, without needing to plug them in or unravel a cable.

For longer jobs, just take a spare battery with you to swap in and out.

If you want to find out more about the other cordless garden tools we have available, check out our ‘The Best Cordless Garden Power Tools’ guide.

corded chainsaw

Corded chainsaws

Like cordless chainsaws, these are electrically powered which make them pretty straightforward to maintain, unlike petrol chainsaws where engine repairs can be quite tricky.

Corded chainsaws have to be plugged in, which limits your range somewhat – but it’s easy to add an extension cable for further distance. Just make sure you don’t trip over the cable or cut through it accidentally.

Corded chainsaws are usually the cheapest option and they’re ideal for general garden maintenance – but steer clear of those really tough jobs like cutting hardwood.

petrol chainsaw

Petrol chainsaws

Not only can the best petrol chainsaws tackle even the hardest pieces of wood, they’re also portable and cordless too.

Once you’ve got them fired up, their power and efficiency often surpasses electric models – so you can cut all round the garden on a single tank. Just keep your neighbours in mind though, as they’re a little loud and not so eco-friendly.

You can drain the fuel tank between uses to make it last longer – but don’t forget to take a trip to the garage before you start it up again for some more petrol and engine oil.


Chainsaws are a brilliant piece of equipment, especially when used safely. For the best protection, always take time to familiarise yourself with how they work and what safety features they have, as well as keeping yourself safe with the right protective equipment.

Here’s a few pointers on safety, but always check the instructions that come with your chosen chainsaw.

After all that, you’re probably feeling ready to get your hands on some serious chopping equipment so you can  fire the log burner. Check out the best chainsaws here and remember to leave a review of your favourite electric or petrol chainsaw.

Shop chainsaws



Writer and expert