Cordless chainsaws have their benefits. Ear protection is not needed with some, so the user can hear what is going on around the site of work. There is no fuss fuelling up, no spills and no fumes. They are quiet, so users can get an early start in urban areas. They are easy to run - no more pulling the engine over with what might be ever-increasing frustration on cold starts or as the saw ages. They have low vibrations and they are lightweight. But come on, they're toys aren't they?
Aside from the fact that no chainsaw should ever be viewed as a toy - even the smallest can seriously damage your health - the 536Li XP is in truth a high-performance saw. It feels equivalent to a 35cc machine and should appeal to those working in the commercial world, agriculture and utility applications. It is a heavy-duty saw and it is water resistant.
Powered by a 36V Li-ion integrated battery (backpack option available), this saw gives an impressive performance. It is a professional saw and it has a chain speed of 20m/s - more than some petrol machines and more than most other cordless chainsaws.
Husqvarna has really concentrated on the detail. The battery has active cooling to keep it going, battery management to ensure that it turns off before it deep discharges and a light on top indicates when the saw is "live". If left untouched, with the chain brake off, the saw switches off. If the chain brake is on, the light flashes and the saw switches off after five minutes.
Potential purchasers should also note that this saw has two speeds - a "savE" mode offers greater runtime. The motor is brushless and the loom, keypad and throttle are sealed. Maintenance is minimal. An oil window enables a check to be kept on the oil level and the chain oil tank has a flip-up cover for easy opening when wearing gloves.
Taylor is impressed. "It's got plenty of grunt," he says. Cullen adds: "And you are not constantly using the recoil. That must save a huge amount of time."
The recommended battery is the BLi150, which should give 60 minutes pruning or 30 minutes logging. Recharging to 100 per cent takes 50 minutes using the quick charger. A backpack battery could see as much as three hours of logging work, but expect recharging to take between two and four hours.
The manufacturer guarantees 1,000 recharges and it could save considerable money over petrol. With an inverter fitted to the idling woodchipper, a spare battery could always be ready for use. A top-handle version is available for use in trees. It features a second clip to ensure that the battery cannot slide out while the arborist is climbing.
Battery: Li-ion integrated (backpack also offered)
Motor: BLDC (brushless)
Recommended bar max/min: 14in/10in
Chain speed at max power: 20m/s
Chain pitch: 3/8in, in
Oil tank capacity: 0.2 litres
Oil pump type: Automatic
Sound pressure level at operator's ears: 93dB(A)
Guaranteed sound power level: 106dB(A)
Vibration levels: 2.5m/s2 front, 2.8m/s2 rear
Weight excluding battery and cutting equipment: 2.6kg
Price: Chainsaw: £350; BLi150 battery: £195; quick charger:
£110 (all including VAT)
Tel: Husqvarna UK - 0844 243 5263
Tested This Issue
- Husqvarna 536Li XP
- Husqvarna 545
- Stihl MS 261 C-M
- Husqvarna 560 XP
- Husqvarna 450
- Husqvarna T540 XP II
- Stihl MSA 160 C-BQ & MSA 200 C-BQ
Darren Chambers, arboriculture teacher and apprenticeship assessor, Bridgwater College; Claire Prangley, gardener, Cannington Campus and Walled Gardens; Jim Doble, Sedgemoor Tree Services; Joe Taylor, Mendip Trees & Landscapes; Mike Cullen, head of arboriculture, Bridgwater College.
Perhaps more than any other power tool, the chainsaw is a matter of personal preference. Depending on the task, different users may want a compact, powerful, top-handled or even battery saw. But with so much choice available, there should be something for everybody.
We put a wide range to test at Bridgwater College's arboriculture department. We look at the Stihl 261 C-M, a popular machine recently improved. Four petrol models from Husqvarna include updated units and the Mark II top handle. Then we consider rear-handled battery chainsaws from Husqvarna and Stihl.
Conditions on the day were warm and sunny. Note: the Mark II T540 XP is for use by professional arborists only and should not be used on the ground. Lacking time to rig up, we gave it a thorough inspection but hope to run it on another occasion.