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To stay healthy and look their best, trees need occasional pruning to remove broken branches and thin out dense limbs. One of the best ways to handle such projects is with a chainsaw. While it is essentially a chainsaw attached to a long pole, a pole saw holds the blade securely in place, allowing you to reach down and cut branches while remaining safely on the ground.
While chainsaws can make pruning much easier, they are not suitable for all situations. If you only need to trim tiny branches, vines or leaves, you may not need one. However, if you need to cut branches between 2 and 8 inches in diameter, you can use a chainsaw.
To find out which chainsaws perform best, we field-tested some of the best options on the market. Read on to see our results and learn the key considerations when choosing a pruning tool for your landscaping needs.
Best overall power tool: Greenworks 40V cordless chainsaw
Best Value: WORX WG309, 8 Amp 10" Corded Saw and Chainsaw
Best Battery: EGO Power+ 10-inch 56-Volt Multisaw
Best Corded Appliance: Sun Joe SWJ800E 8-inch 6.5 Amp Telescopic Appliance
Best Light Duty: WORX WG349 20V Power Share 8″ Chainsaw
Best Heavy Duty: MAXTRA Gas Pole Saw, 42.7CC 2-Cycle Power Pruner
Best gas combination: PROYAMA Powerful 42.7cc 5 in 1 Multi-functionality
Like all power tools, chainsaws are designed to meet a variety of needs; some are suitable for do-it-yourselfers, while others are better suited for professionals. Consider the following factors when shopping.
On a chainsaw, the cutting bar determines the maximum branch diameter that can be cut. Bars range in length from 6 inches to 12 inches, with the most common being 8 inches. Pneumatic pole saws have the longest cutting bars (usually between 10 and 12 inches), which is one reason they are better able to do tougher jobs.
The standard rule of thumb is that the cutting bar should be at least 2 inches longer than the diameter of the branch. For example, cutting a 6-inch diameter branch requires an 8-inch bar.
The "working height" of a pole saw usually appears on the package, but does not indicate the actual length of the pole - it refers to the length of the pole plus an arms length. Manufacturers usually estimate the arm length to be 2 to 3 feet, so if the chainsaw claims to have a 10-foot working height, the chainsaw will be 7 to 8 feet long from tip to tip.
Most chainsaws have a maximum working height of 10 feet to 12 feet; at higher heights, the tool can become difficult to control safely, especially in windy conditions. Many models include a telescoping bar that allows for length adjustment. The telescoping pole makes it easier to quickly switch between trimming hedges at ground level and cutting branches as high as 6 feet overhead.
Both gas and cordless chainsaws rely on fuel, which gradually runs out as the tool is run. The gas pole saw will eventually need to refill its tank when it runs out of fuel. The typical run time for each tank is 2 to 4 hours. However, it does not take long to fill the tank when there is available backup gasoline nearby.
Cordless chainsaws are battery-powered, and battery life is typically 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the power output and the particular battery. Once the battery is depleted, it takes about an hour to recharge. It is a good idea to have a spare battery so that you can use it whenever you need it.
It is important to remember that these tools are not supported by anything other than the user, so the full weight of the tool needs to be properly held, balanced and controlled, even if the telescoping pole is at full length. If this is not possible for a particular user, then the tool is too heavy.
Air lever saws have powerful motors, but the added power also adds weight. Because the motors are heavy, they typically weigh between 20 and 25 pounds. Cordless chainsaws are lighter than air chainsaws, but they still weigh about 15 to 20 pounds.
The lightest option for pole saws is corded electric models. They do not require batteries or technology to equip and transmit battery power to the motor, so electric pole saws are usually less than 15 pounds.
Safety is one of the primary considerations when operating a powerful cutting tool like a long pole saw. Take some time to read the manual and learn how to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for use. Also, keep in mind that while it may feel comfortable to use a pole saw on a hedge at ground level, once the pole is extended, the pole saw becomes more difficult to hold, maneuver and control.
Look for chainsaws equipped with easy-to-grip handles and telescoping poles for better control of the chainsaw. If the current height is too difficult to manage, shorten the telescoping bar to help the user regain control. Saw guards also help protect the user and the saw blade when not using a long-bar saw.
We have extensively tested the following products in our backyard trials. Each chainsaw was selected based on its reputation for quality in a range of areas, such as cutting bar length, working height, run time, weight and overall capacity. Use our reviews to help choose the best chainsaw for maintaining trees, hedges and other plants in your yard.
With its 40-volt power supply, the Greenworks cordless long pole saw offers best-in-class cutting power in a convenient battery-powered chainsaw. Thanks to shock-absorbing technology, it's extremely lightweight at 9.3 pounds and exceptionally easy to handle. Equipped with a battery and charger, the cordless chainsaw can be started immediately with simple push-button control, without having to deal with the drawstring on the air lever saw.
Thanks to the tool's wide pole length, the pole saw is perfect for reaching those high branches. Its telescoping pole extends to a working height of nearly 9 feet, and it has an 8-inch cutting bar that allows users to cut unreachable branches up to about 6 inches in diameter. The pole saw can be used as a stand-alone tool or as a multi-tool kit with an electric hedge trimmer attachment. The same 40-volt power head and battery power both attachments, saving space in the garage.
We like the combination of convenience, weight and reach this saw offers. the 40-volt battery provides plenty of power to cut even dry, hardened dead branches. In addition, the crossbar is mounted at a small angle to the handle, which makes it safer and easier to cut branches downward when backing away from the fall line.
The WORX Corded Power Pole Saw is an affordable 2-in-1 power tool that can be used as both a pole saw when an extension pole is attached and as a regular chainsaw when no extension pole is available. The telescoping pole is 8 feet long and when fully extended, the pole saw has a working range of up to 10 feet. Weighing only 10 pounds, this long pole saw is well-made and easy to grip and operate.
The corded saw has built-in automatic chain lubrication to ensure that the chain portion of the saw always operates at peak efficiency for faster, more controlled cuts. Using a 10-inch cutting bar, the pole saw can be used on branches or trunks up to 8 inches in diameter. It also includes a blade protection cover that keeps the saw blade secure when not in use.
Testing this saw was a unique experience. Because the entire chain saw is attached to the top of the extension bar via a mechanical adapter, the tool is top-heavy. However, as a corded chainsaw, it offers a lot of power and a 10-inch long bar. The saw is easy to attach to and remove from the bar in about a minute. The best attribute is its versatility.
The EGO Power+ 56-volt tool line includes a variety of lawnmowers, blowers and other cordless electric yard maintenance tools, all powered by the same 56-volt arc lithium rechargeable battery. These tools have gas-like power in a clean, cordless package. This pole chainsaw is part of EGO's multi-attachment powerhead series, which includes seven other interchangeable attachments: brushes, rubber brooms, mid-tillers, hedge trimmers, corded trimmers and pole extensions. It is available only as an accessory or sold with the powerhead.
The saw provides ample cutting power and a wide 10-inch cutting bar capable of cutting 8-inch limbs. The assembled tool is approximately 7.5 feet in length and can be extended by adding the optional 31-inch extension bar (sold separately). If this were the only EGO tool owned, it would be expensive due to the price of batteries, but adding it to the existing EGO product line would bring the cost in line with other cordless pole chainsaws.
We like this tool. The heavy-duty battery on the back end makes it more like a pneumatic saw with matching cutting power and overall lighter weight than most air pole saws. Without an extension bar, the reach is shorter than most other pole saws, but it's more than enough for some people.
If the pole saw needs to be used for more than an hour at a time, the lightweight Sun Joe corded electric pole saw, which weighs only 7 pounds, is a good choice. Users don't have to wait for batteries to recharge, nor do they have to go to the gas station with this corded power tool that can run as long as it has a valid electrical connection. However, movement is limited by the length of the extension cord, so it's best to get one that can reach to any tree or hedge in the yard.
This pole saw has a telescoping pole that extends more than 8 feet, providing the user with a maximum working height of about 10.7 feet. It can cut branches up to 6 inches thick using the 8-inch cutting bar, and the chainsaw automatically lubricates itself to help keep the blade in good working condition.
We like the plug-and-play convenience of not having to worry about mixing fuel or recharging batteries. The saw feels light, but it provides enough power to cut small to medium-thick branches with great balance. It's a practical and affordable option for occasional use.
This cordless chainsaw is perfect for people with small to medium-sized yards. It is powerful enough to trim branches up to 6.5" in diameter, and it has a telescoping pole that provides the user with a maximum working height of 13 feet.
The saw also has an automatic chain tensioner and chain lubrication system and weighs 8 pounds. Plus, it's budget-friendly. One of the tool's best features, however, is the three-digit head that gives users the option to choose between 0, 15 or 30 degrees to help trim hard-to-reach branches.
This is the lightest weight cordless pole saw we've tested, and it weighs only one pound more than the lightest chainsaw overall. the 20-volt battery provides an amazing amount of power, perfect for cutting all the branches we've tried. It offers a very high range. For occasional use on one or two branches, this tool makes sense.
This pole saw has a 10-inch cutting bar and can be used to prune or trim branches up to 8 inches in diameter. Even more impressive is the telescoping bar that can be adjusted from 8 feet to over 11 feet, providing the user with a maximum working height of about 13 feet.
However, this chainsaw owes its fast-cutting speed to the powerful gas engine. 42.7 cc 2-stroke engine generates the power that allows the user to handle heavy tasks such as felling small trees or removing large branches. It weighs up to 21 lbs.
The first thing we noticed about this saw is that it is much heavier than electric and cordless models. The weight is fixed to the bottom of the saw rather than the cutting head, so the balance is very different. The included harness is essential to reduce user fatigue. The huge fuel tank provides hours of run time, so for tough jobs and long hours of use, this saw is a great choice.
Despite its 42.7cc 2-stroke motor, this PROYAMA pneumatic pole saw weighs only 13 pounds, making it powerful and lightweight. Easy to lift, hold and maneuver, the long pole saw has a telescoping lever that adjusts from 8 feet to just over 11 feet, giving the user a maximum working height of approximately 13 feet. Thanks to its 12-inch-long cutting bar, the pole saw can be used on branches up to 10 inches in diameter.
The air pole saw includes several additional trimming tools that can be attached to the pole saw in place. These additional attachments include hedge trimmers, brush cutters and rope trimmers. The pole saw also includes ear guards, face shields, safety gloves and a pole saw blade sheath to help keep the pole saw blade safe when not in use.
We appreciate the powerful cutting ability and reach offered by this tool. The large size of the bar and the powerful motor are capable of cutting through dangerously large branches. However, the user should beware; take off smaller sections of those large branches. We found the large gas motor to be too heavy for continuous use; however, thankfully, it includes a wire harness.
Of all the chainsaws we tested, the Greenworks 40V Cordless offered the best combination of performance, comfort and price. It gets the job done and can run for a considerable amount of run time on a single charge.
For occasional long-term use at a bargain price, the Sun Joe Pole Saw may be a good choice. It's not designed for hours of daily use, but weekend and seasonal users may appreciate its lightweight features. Wired power eliminates the need for expensive batteries and messy fuel.
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