What do the latest developments in petrol and battery-powered chainsaws have to offer?

Light and compact: 2.8kg DUC254Z-18V intended for use by operators when climbing - image: Makita
Light and compact: 2.8kg DUC254Z-18V intended for use by operators when climbing - image: Makita

Manufacturers are improving battery and petrol models, with sales on the rise year on year, writes Sally Drury.

Chainsaws play an essential role in maintaining the green environment. Trees, whether in the street, parks and gardens or woodlands and forests, need attention. Pruning work, along with felling and clearing gale damage, is most efficiently achieved with the right chainsaw in trained hands.

Chainsaw sales are increasing year on year and driving development in both the petrol and battery powered markets, although perhaps not surprisingly most growth is found in the latter. EGO Power+ marketing director (EMEA) Steve Roskell says this is due to several factors, but key is the fact that battery operated saws are less intimidating to use because of their quieter performance. "

Battery chainsaws: bucking sales trends - image: EGOPOWER+

Battery powered products in outdoor power equipment are bucking the current sales trends across all categories as users realise and appreciate that the performance of cordless is better than it has ever been. Premium brands can now offer petrol-matching performance without any of the noise, fuss or fumes associated with petrol products," he says."

EGO chainsaws can be used anywhere that you might typically use a petrol-powered one as there is no degradation in performance. The added advantage is that they can also be used at times and in places where noisy petrol products might have greater restrictions."

The latest battery chainsaws from Makita and Stihl show that battery top-handled saws really can provide professional solutions. Makita’s new model sets an industry benchmark, with its single 18V lithium-ion battery generating a 570W output to provide ample power to run the 3/8in chain over the 10in (25cm) bar at up to 24m/sec and so match the performance of a petrol machine.

The brushless motor provides longer runtime, great power and lower maintenance. A main feature on the saw is the Auto-Off — designed to make it one of the safest chainsaws on the market. Makita UK business development manager Mark Earles explains: "This function automatically turns the machine off if the operator does not grip the lock-off lever within 10 seconds of turning the machine on. Equally, the Auto-Off kicks in if the operator does not trigger the switch within one minute, even if the lock-off lever is gripped. And again, if the operator does not grip the lock-off lever again within 10 seconds after releasing it, the Auto-Off function takes control."

Sold as "body only" and classified as a top-handle chainsaw, the cordless DUC254Z-18V should only be used by trained and certificated professionals. Light and compact, weighing just 2.8kg, it is intended for operators when climbing and for single-handed use, making it ideal for up-the-tree pruning tasks.

Neatly packaged with a sturdy hand grip, the saw is fitted with a variable-speed control trigger, electric chain brake and kickback brake. This model also boasts a soft-start function that accelerates the motor into action, reducing the sudden torque load on start-up. Other features include oil capacity display, hanging hook and captive nuts to prevent loss when removing the sprocket cover. Noise sound pressure is 92.2dB(A), noise sound power 103.2dB(A) and vibration when cutting wood is 3.1m/sec2.

Cordless arborist saw

The new cordless MSA 161 T from Stihl is also classed as an arborist saw. It supersedes the MSA 160 T model, has 40% higher chain speed (16m/s) and boasts a 15% increase in performance to make it suitable for deadwood removal, crown maintenance and light reductions.

Other improvements over its predecessor include faster response of the hand guard during activation and releasing of the chain brake as well as improved cutting behaviour to give a cleaner and smoother cut. In addition, the operating system has been enhanced with a sidelock for added safety and extended interlock for comfortable use.

So quiet in operation is the 161 T that ear defenders are not required while working. The new model is powered by Stihl’s 36V AP batteries — the AP 200 giving a runtime of up to 35 minutes and the AP 300 battery powering the saw for up to 50 minutes off a single charge.

All-rounder: CS-4510ES designed for commercial operators and semi-professionals - image: Echo Tools

Responding to growth in sales and always seeking innovative improvements, manufacturers are offering several new petrol chainsaws. Echo Tools recently introduced the powerful CS-4510ES rear-handled chainsaw as an all-rounder for the commercial operator and semi-professional or "prosumer" markets.

Said to be ideal for logging and small felling, it features a punch-packing 45cc engine. Without a catalyst, this is a stage II compliant two-stroke engine with a piston-operated scavenging system in which a layer of fuel-free air is created between the burnt charge in the combustion chamber and the fresh charge in the crankcase. This buffer reduces the fuel-laden losses during the cycle and translates into more torque for a faster cut and efficiency through harder wood. A G-Force engine air pre-cleaner reduces engine exposure to dirt and debris for reduced maintenance.

The new chainsaw also benefits from spring-assisted ES Easy Start along with priming pump, so just one or two gentle pulls of the recoil will fire up the engine from cold and a warm engine should be possible with one half-pull of the rope. A momentary switch is fitted for quick and easy engine restart. Output is 2.3kW and digital CDI ignition is intended to provide smooth, quick acceleration and stable idle.

The CS-4510ES has a lightweight, durable body with a dry weight of 5kg to give it an excellent power-to-weight ratio — more powerful yet lighter than its predecessors. The oil tank capacity is 0.33 litres, while the translucent fuel tank holds 0.48 litres. Fuel consumption is reported as 1.19 litres/hr at maximum engine power. Other useful features include a tool-less air filter cover to allow easy access for cleaning even when wearing gloves, a side-access chain tensioner for simple chain adjustment and tool-less oil/fuel caps for hassle-free refilling.

The front handle is ergonomically designed for comfort and the chain brake handle is twin-posted. The CS-4510ES comes with an 18in (45cm) bar with 0.058in gauge and 0.325in chain, replaceable metal bumper spike for improved control and dropout prevention nuts to avoid loss in the field or during maintenance. The saw carries a two-year professional warranty, validated by registration and servicing, or five years for domestic use, and has a price tag of £429.17 + VAT.

Weight reduction

Saws are definitely getting lighter. Stihl engineers have applied their know-how to reducing system weight. In June, Stihl launched the lightest chainsaw in the 70cc class. Again an all-rounder, the MS 462 C-M is ideal for felling, pruning and forestry work.

Only weighing 6kg, making it light to manoeuvre, it develops 6hp along with outstanding acceleration that sees it achieve 100km/h in only three seconds. A new lighter and smaller-diameter flywheel, compact design, ease of use and reduced gyroscopic force combine for comfort during long periods of work and efficiency when tackling medium- and high-density stands.

Power comes from a Stihl 2-MIX 4.4kW engine and the saw boasts very high torque over a wide speed range for tough jobs and pruning operations. The saw is also fitted with Stihl’s M-Tronic electronic engine management system to ensure optimal performance, constant maximum speed and good acceleration in all operating conditions, even from a cold start.

A new anti-vibration system has been designed to provide a low vibration load and high stability to reduce stress on hand and arm muscles and reduce energy exertion while working. An ElastoStart force-absorbing grip is also incorporated to take the jerks out of firing up the machine.

From a maintenance point of view, the new HD2 air filter with radial seal has been fitted to offer peace of mind by providing long service intervals and an improved fine dust filtering effect to lengthen cleaning intervals. In addition, a one-piece hood with quarter-turn fasteners is used to give easy access to all parts. Chain tensioning is mounted on the side for convenience and there are captive nuts on the sprocket cover.

Husqvarna has also introduced new chainsaws for full- and part-time arborists as well as professional gardeners. For frequent professional use, and especially logging work, Husqvarna recommends its new 70.6cc 565 with X-Torq engine, air injection, Smart Start system, new Autotune to automatically adjust the engine based on fuel type and conditions, Low Vib vibration dampening and combined choke/stop control. It is available with 18in (45cm) or 20in (50cm) bars, has a high power output of 3.7kW (5hp) and weighs 6.5kg.

There are three new Husqvarna saws for full-time professional forestry and arboriculture applications. All are fitted with X-Torq engines, air injection and Autotune. The 59.8cc 562XP also features RevBoost for rapid and smooth acceleration when needed. Available with 18in (45cm) bar, the 3.5kW-output saw costs £725 +VAT. Two 572XP 70.6cc Husky chainsaws feature a soft cut out system, the G model benefiting from heated handles. Bars from 18in (45cm) to 24in (60cm) can be used and prices start from £903.33 + VAT.

To provide efficient combustion for a clean, healthy engine and reduced downtime, Husqvarna now offers Power 2. Developed for Husqvarna two-stroke engines, this alkylate petrol is supplied pre-mixed with 2% Husqvarna XP synthetic two-stroke oil. No mixing, simplified starting — what more could you ask for?

Personal protection

Whatever type or size of chainsaw you use, personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential. New from Solidur, Class 3 COMFY Design A chainsaw trousers are tested at 28m/sec. This standard may soon be a requirement in France. In the UK there is a growing interest in this increased level of protection. The trousers, made of a mix of Cordura, Kevlar and Teflon with Coolmax lining, have two pockets plus ruler pocket, phone pocket, spanner holder and bandage pouch. There are five layers of protection and the weight is 1.35kg.

A lightweight, well-ventilated chainsaw trouser from Solidur is the new "summerweight" SOFRESH Class 1 Design A. With breathable mesh back and front, and five layers of protection, the trousers are made from nylon, polyester, Kevlar, Spandex and Armortex with a Coolmax lining. They have two Italian pockets, a ruler pocket, one flat pocket, spanner holder and bandage pocket.

Meeting railway standard RIS-3279-TOM, Solidur’s new GLOW high-visibility chainsaw trousers and jackets are available as Class 1 trousers in Design A and C, Class 3 trousers in Design A, leggings and "bib n brace" in Design A and Class 1 protective jackets available in sizes from small to 4XL weighing 1.7kg.

Stihl has expanded its ADVANCE head protection range with the introduction of two new and improved helmets, offering professionals enhanced levels of safety. The new ADVANCE X-Vent and Vent models come with a ratchet-adjustment headband as standard to keep set-up simple, while the slim-profile ear protectors are designed for comfort and mobility during working operations. To aid safe working, reflective stickers on the helmet are visible from all angles.

The ADVANCE X-Vent model has a robust visor for protection from sunlight, rain, snow or debris, as well as a sturdy spring steel mesh guard that allows up to 80% light visibility for a protected but clear view. The ADVANCE Vent model also utilises a metal mesh visor, allowing up to 70% light visibility. Cooling and airflow have not been forgotten — both models feature ventilation openings over the helmet shell, allowing heat to escape.

Aiding safety at work, Stihl has introduced Bluetooth ear protectors. Suitable for ground-based work, the new Dynamic BT ear protectors (above) come with built-in speakers to help make work more enjoyable. Compatible with most mobile phones and tablets, they can be paired to the operator’s device using either a Bluetooth 4.0 or aux connection. To get connected even quicker, the headset features an easy-to-use, three-button interface. A built-in microphone allows users to take calls while on the go. Runtime is 38 hours.

Stihl has also expanded its range of lightweight Protect MS cut protective high-visibility clothing with a new jacket and trousers designed for freedom of movement and safety in applications such as arboriculture, forestry and landscaping work. The Protect MS jacket comes with two chest pockets as well as an outlet opening for a harness on the back. The elbows and shoulders feature thorn protection, while breathable ADVANCE cut protection has been included in the chest, shoulders, arms and stomach areas.

Designed with ventilation on the back of the thigh and sturdy material at the knee and lower leg, the Protect MS trousers have two side pockets, one tape measure pocket and kidney protection. For safety, the visibility of the jacket and trousers falls in line with EN ISO 20471 protection Class 2 and both achieve Class 3 high visibility when combined. Both products also meet Class 1 EN381 cut protection standards. The trousers are type A design, offering protection at the front of the leg.

PowerCut performance: Oregon EXL chain

New from Blount, the Oregon PowerCut 70-Series EXL 3/8in chain (above) is an upgrade of the Oregon LPX or LGX and engineered to fully utilise the power of today’s high-output 50-100cc professional chainsaws as well as being designed to require less force from the operator. Cutting quickly with less effort but increased performance, the chain has reshaped, full-chisel cutters with cleaner, sharper, more durable cutting edges. Other features include Multi-axis grind technology, LubriTec oiling system for less friction and longer life, optimised ramped depth gauge for bumperless low kickback and low vibration, plus easy maintenance features such as the Gold Loop Start/Stop Indicator and enhanced filling indicators. The chain is recommended for new VersaCut 15-20in and new PowerCut 13-42in bars.

Coming soon: Stihl MS 500i breaks new ground

Tried in Germany for a year and due to be released in the UK in spring 2019, the Stihl MS 500i (above) is the world’s first series-manufactured chainsaw with electronically controlled fuel injection and lightweight design, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 1.2kg/kW.

The injection technology, heralded as providing "the chainsaw of the future", gives this high-torque saw exceptional starting behaviour, with optimum engine power right from start-up and rapid acceleration, going from zero to 100km/h in just 0.25 seconds. The engine does not need a carburettor because the fuel metering is done using a sensor and automatically adapts to different operating conditions irrespective of altitude and ambient temperature.

Additional design optimisations have been made for increased operator comfort. The reduction in gyroscopic forces means that this 80cc-class high-performance professional chainsaw has the dynamic manoeuvrability needed for limbing work, making this big-timber harvester suited for all disciplines from felling to cutting to length.

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