Chainsaws are impressive tools that are perfect for tackling heavy-duty tasks. The incredible power of chainsaws is doubled for gas-powered chainsaws thanks to their robust engines. A good gas-powered chainsaw combines precision control with excellent maneuverability. But how exactly does a gas-powered chainsaw work?
All gas chainsaws are powered by gasoline, but there are plenty of variabilities within the different gas powered chainsaw brands. Before buying your own chainsaw, you first need to know about the unique strengths and weaknesses of various chainsaw types. If you plan to use your chainsaw for basic home maintenance, you’ll want a simple, low-power chainsaw design. If you need to cut down large trees, you’ll need something more high-powered. It’s essential to find the best gas powered chainsaw for you and your projects, otherwise you could end up with a failed project, damaged trees, wasted money, or injuries.
What Is a Gas-Powered Chainsaw?
Gas-powered chainsaws were first developed in the 1920s. Unlike the electric chainsaws that preceded them, gas chainsaws ran on gasoline. This gave them extra power compared to electric chainsaws. Today, gasoline powered chainsaws remain a popular choice among loggers and other people who need to accomplish heavy-duty tasks.
A gas-powered chainsaw engine works similarly to a car engine, except that instead of the gasoline driving the wheels forward, it drives the gears and chain of the chainsaw. When fuel in the tank gets pulled into the carburetor, it mixes with air and causes a combustion reaction.
How Do You Use a Gas Chainsaw?
Like all big machinery, gas chainsaws can be dangerous if they are improperly used. If you are a new chainsaw user, take a more experienced person with you to show you the ropes. Don’t wear loose clothing that could get caught in the blade and minimize kickback by holding the chainsaw slightly to your side while cutting. You want to do everything possible to avoid injuries.
You can avoid the problems that come with poorly-made gas-powered chainsaws by buying a new model made with sturdy materials. Old or used chainsaws run the risk of having damaged parts, and they’re more likely to malfunction in some way or another. If you buy a high-quality chainsaw and check it every time before using it, you will protect yourself and keep your chainsaw working smoothly.
Verify the Chainsaw Has Fresh Fuel
When you check the condition of a gas chainsaw, the first step is making sure it has fresh fuel. Gasoline degrades over time, especially if it has been stored in a cold area. If you don’t empty your chainsaw’s fuel tank, then about 30 days after the last use, the gas will separate into different components. The fuel will no longer properly combust and it may foul the spark plug.
After using your gas chainsaw, empty the fuel tank, add fresh gasoline, swirl it around, and then scrub the interior of the tank with a wire brush and a rag. While you’re at it, clean the spark plug with the wire brush and check whether the air filter needs to be replaced.
Check the Chain Oil Reservoir
Chain oil reduces friction on the cutting chains, which keeps them sharp for longer. Gas-powered chainsaws use about one tank of chain oil per tank of fuel, so if it’s time to refill the fuel tank, it’s also time to refill the chain oil reservoir.
Set the chainsaw on a level surface, unscrew the cap on the reservoir, pour in enough chain oil to fill it without overflowing, then screw the cap back on. Clean off any oil that dripped onto the chainsaw.
Engage the Chain Brake Activator
The chain brake stops the chain from rotating. This is a safety measure that prevents the chainsaw user from accidentally cutting themself. To start the chainsaw, you need to activate the chain brake. Before engaging the brake, place the chainsaw on the ground or hold it between your legs. Both positions hold the chainsaw steady so that if it jerks while starting up, it can’t move much and won’t cause an injury.
Adjust the Choke and Ready the Engine
If the chainsaw engine is cold, you will need to open the choke. Opening the choke gives the engine enough fuel to start up. The open choke position is usually the fourth position on the chainsaw’s master control lever. Check your chainsaw’s manual to confirm the location of the open choke position.
If you take a brief break from using your gas chainsaw and then start it back up, the engine will still be hot. If the engine is hot, it doesn’t need a fuel boost and you can restart the saw without adjusting the choke.
Pull the Start Handle and Begin Cutting
The start handle is the plastic handle on your gas chainsaw that is attached to an extendable cord. When you’re ready to start your chainsaw, grasp its front handle in your non-dominant hand. Put your dominant hand on the start handle. While keeping the chainsaw steady, pull the start handle. After a few pulls, you should hear the engine fire up.
Now you’re ready to begin cutting. Position the guide bar on your chainsaw over whatever you want to cut, then slowly lower the saw. Keep a firm grip on the front handle. As long as your cutting chains are in good condition, they should easily slice through wood and brush.
Advantages of a Gasoline-Powered Chainsaw
Gas-powered chainsaws are a great home improvement tool. They can effortlessly clear away branches and cut through lumber. However, they’re obviously not the only type of chainsaw on the market.
Many hardware stores also sell electric chainsaws and battery-powered chainsaws. These work more or less the same as gas chainsaws do, but they use different fuel sources. Electric and battery chainsaws are suitable for some tasks, but gas-powered chainsaws have several advantages over these saw types.
More Powerful Motors Than Other Types of Chainsaws
The defining feature of gas powered chainsaws is their powerful motors. The pistons in a gas chainsaw engine rapidly operate, allowing your gas chainsaw to start up fast and keep going for a long time. Most gas chainsaws use a 2 stroke engine. A 2 stroke engine only needs two piston strokes to generate power. This has given rise to the alternative name for gas-powered chainsaws: two-stroke chainsaws.
Gas-fueled engines make these chainsaws capable of more heavy-duty tasks that ordinary chainsaws can’t handle. Electricity and batteries don’t generate the same amount of force. Even a small gas powered chainsaw can make quick work of big tree branches.
Efficiently Cuts Down Larger Trees
Speaking of tree branches, let’s talk about how gas-powered chainsaws handle huge trees. If you’ve ever chopped wood with an axe, you know that blades can get stuck in particularly thick pieces of wood. That’s true for chainsaws too. Getting the chainsaw stuck is called pinching because of how the wood pinches the cutting chain.
You can prevent pinching by only cutting on level surfaces, but when it comes to cutting down large trees, that just isn’t possible. You can’t cut down a big oak by laying it across a sawhorse. What you can do is use a large chainsaw that is powerful enough to cut through tree trunks without getting pinched. Gas chainsaws are ideal for this task.
Longer Lifespan Than Electric Chainsaw
Gas powered chainsaws can easily last for 10 years. If you take good care of your chainsaw or only use it infrequently, it may last more than 20 years. Electric chainsaws are less durable and tend to wear out faster. A big part of the reason why has to do with their power source.
Whether an electric chainsaw is corded or cordless, it most likely stores energy on a lithium-ion battery. Although lithium-ion batteries can be recharged, they eventually degrade, particularly if they are exposed to extreme temperatures. Typically, the battery in an electric chainsaw wears out before the rest of the chainsaw does, making the whole chainsaw unusable.
More Sustainable Run Time Than Battery Chainsaw
When it comes to the run time on a battery powered chainsaw vs gas chainsaw, there’s no comparison. The batteries on most battery powered chainsaws last for somewhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour of cutting time. The harder the work, the faster the batteries will die. Once they do, it can take up to an hour for the battery to fully recharge.
By contrast, gas chainsaws can run all day with only brief pauses for refueling. You can work all morning, refill the tank during your lunch break, and immediately return to sawing. You’ll have to bring fuel with you on long work days, but you won’t have to wait around while a battery recharges. That’s why gas chainsaws are the tool of choice for professional loggers.
Great For Commercial Type Projects or Home Projects
Loggers aren’t the only people who use gas chainsaws. Multiple seemingly unrelated commercial professions are united by their reliance on gas-powered chainsaws. Sawmill workers use them to cut logs into usable timber, firefighters cut down brush to make firebreaks, and chainsaw artists use them for decorative chainsaw carving.
Gas powered chainsaws rank among the best chainsaws for home use. You can use a gas chainsaw to prune trees and shrubbery. If a storm knocks down a tree in your yard, you can quickly cut it up and get it cleared away. Plus, a good gas-powered chainsaw makes amateur carpentry projects go a lot faster. If you’re only planning to do small-scale projects, get a small gas powered chainsaw to help you out.
Disadvantages of a Gasoline-Powered Chainsaw
Gasoline-powered chainsaws aren’t perfect. They aren’t suitable for all types of people or all types of projects. The most common criticisms of gas chainsaws are related to their fuel, price, and weight.
Despite their limitations, gas-powered chainsaws are often as good or better when compared to other types of chainsaws. It’s important to have a realistic idea of what to expect from a gas-powered chainsaw before you purchase one.
Gas-Powered Equipment Isn’t a Clean Energy Option
Some people have raised environmental concerns about the fuel used to power gas chainsaws. They point out that the exhaust from a gas chainsaw’s engine, just like the exhaust from a car’s engine, is a pollutant. As gasoline prices continue creeping up, it seems wasteful to spend limited resources on a chainsaw.
It’s true that gas-powered equipment isn’t a clean energy option. However, if your electric chainsaw isn’t getting electricity from renewable resources, then it isn’t using clean energy either. As for battery-powered chainsaws, their spent batteries are an equally dangerous pollutant. Gas-powered chainsaws may not be 100% environmentally friendly, but they aren’t environmentally worse than any other type of chainsaw.
Typically More Expensive Than Electric Cordless Chainsaws
Gas-powered chainsaws usually cost more than electric cordless chainsaws do. Their price can run up into the hundreds of dollars. A small electric cordless chainsaw, on the other hand, might cost less than $100.
Gas chainsaws can certainly be expensive, but not all electric chainsaws are cheap. As a general rule, the price of a chainsaw has more to do with its size than its power source. A big electric cordless chainsaw may cost $500 or more, while a small gas powered chainsaw could cost considerably less. Use your best judgment when you’re balancing size against price. Remember, a big up-front cost for a high-quality machine could save you money in the long term. Good quality means fewer repair costs.
More Power Means a Heavier Weight
People who have only ever handled battery or electric chainsaws are sometimes surprised at how heavy gas chainsaws are. They may struggle to hold and maneuver a big gas-powered chainsaw.
The motor on a gas-powered chainsaw has to be large to generate enough operating power, and large engines are heavy. If you find heavy chainsaws difficult to use but still want the power that comes from a gas chainsaw, purchase a small model or get a friend to help you use the chainsaw.
Top Gas-Powered Chainsaw Models
To find the best gas powered chainsaw models, look no farther than Husqvarna. Husqvarna has existed for over 300 years, and that long history has given them plenty of time to refine their products. In 1989, they released the 3120 XP chainsaw, which quickly became the favored tool of professional loggers. Recently, they have begun developing the ultra-efficient X-Cut Saw Chain for improved cutting power.
Poulan Pro is a brand name under Husqvarna designating upscale products. Poulan Pro equipment is affordable and high quality. Let’s take a closer look at three of the top-ranked Husqvarna gas chainsaw models.
The Husqvarna 16 Inch 435e II Gas Chainsaw is a small gas powered chainsaw meant for small-scale applications. It’s not the most powerful chainsaw, but it’s perfectly capable of handling backyard pruning. It’s also lightweight, which makes it a good choice for people who struggle to use heavy chainsaws.
This little chainsaw is packed with high-tech internal systems features. It’s made with the new X-Cut Saw Chain, giving it cutting ability far beyond its size. The quick-release air filter is easy to replace. It has an automatic chain oiler that delivers a consistent stream of oil to the chains while the saw is running. The chain tensioning system is mounted on the side so you can quickly adjust the chain while you work.
|Fuel Tank Volume/Battery Amp Hours||0.37 L|
|Engine Displacement/Equivalent Performance||40.9 cc|
|Extra Features||Side mounted chain tensioner, Easy access air filter and spark plug, Visible fuel level|
- Good for home use
- Automatic chain oiler
- Only works for light tasks like trimming greenery
The Husqvarna 460R 24 Inch Gas Chainsaw is sturdy and durable. It can cut firewood and fell hardwood trees, which is why professional foresters use it in their work. The blade is two feet long and powered by a high-torque engine. Chainsaws with big motors sometimes have painfully strong vibrations, but the Husqvarna 460R 24 Inch Gas Chainsaw is equipped with an anti-vibration system that makes it comfortable to operate.
Like the Husqvarna 16 Inch 435e II Gas Chainsaw, it features a side-mounted tensioning system that allows for rapid adjustment of the chain tension. The automatic chain oiler keeps the blade lubricated so that you can cut down big trees with ease. This medium-sized gas-powered chainsaw is excellent for both home use and professional logging or construction work.
|Fuel Tank Volume/Battery Amp Hours||0.43 L|
|Engine Displacement/Equivalent Performance||60.3 cc|
|Extra Features||X-Torq Engine, LowVib, Air Injection|
- Powerful engine
- Great for felling large trees
- Anti-vibration system
The Poulan Pro PR4218 18 Inch 42cc 2-Cycle Gas Chainsaw has a 2-stroke engine and an 18 inch guide bar. It is a medium weight chainsaw with excellent maneuverability. Thanks to the spring-assisted pull cord, the motor starts up with a few quick pulls. As a bonus, it comes with a carry case, extra chain, and built-in scrench (combo screwdriver/wrench tool used for chainsaw maintenance).
Compared to other gas-powered chainsaws, the Poulan Pro PR4218 18 Inch 42cc 2-Cycle Gas Chainsaw produces few harmful emissions. Its patented OxyPower technology makes its fuel consumption highly efficient. The advanced air filter system keeps the air filter working for a long time, which further reduces fuel consumption.
|Fuel Tank Volume/Battery Amp Hours||0.33 L|
|Engine Displacement/Equivalent Performance||42 cc|
|Extra Features||Anti-vibration handle, quick-adjust tensioning system, low kickback bar and chain|
- Affordable price
- Quick-starting motor
- Efficient fuel consumption
- Moderately heavy
Which Gas-Powered Chainsaw Is Right for You?
Now you have all the information you need to decide which chainsaw is right for you. Start by thinking about what you want to use your chainsaw for. If you want to accomplish heavy-duty tasks like felling huge trees, you’ll need a big saw with a big motor like the Husqvarna 460R 24 Inch Gas Chainsaw. If you want to prune small trees or clear away shrubs, then the smaller and more affordable Husqvarna 16 Inch 435e II Gas Chainsaw is a better choice. For an environmentally-friendly option, choose the Poulan Pro PR4218 18 Inch 42cc 2-Cycle Gas Chainsaw.
It depends on what you mean by better. On average, gas-powered chainsaws are definitely more powerful than battery-powered or electrically corded chainsaws. However, they tend to be heavier and more expensive.
Most likely, your gas-powered chainsaw needs maintenance. Check to make sure the fuel tank is full of fresh fuel. Make sure the chain oil reservoir is also full. Don’t be surprised if you need to pull the starter cord multiple times to start the motor. Most motor cords need several pulls to trigger the engine.
Gas-powered chainsaws are fueled with a mixture of gasoline and oil. Check your user manual to see what fuel ratios your specific chainsaw takes. Never use motor oil or other types of fuel not formulated for chainsaws.
The most powerful gas-powered chainsaws have a horsepower of around 3.5. Smaller gas chainsaws are less powerful.
If you properly maintain your gas-powered chainsaw, it will last for 20 years. If you don’t maintain it or if it is heavily used, it should still last for 10 years.