Letters & Emails July 2021

Clarification on battery-operated chain saws

Regarding your article, “Battery-Powered Chain-Saw Considerations” (TCI, June 2021), I noticed several areas where we could have been of assistance – or at least clarification. I mention this because your magazine has great reach and influence. We also want to make sure the category of products is represented correctly.

Author: “Battery saws are heavily marketed to homeowners, so they generally follow the manufacturing processes tailored for these markets. What does this mean? Normally, it means plastic parts instead of metal.”

This may be true for some manufacturers, but even with the author’s caveat that prospective buyers should read through specifications, it diminishes the fact that some manufacturers make products specifically for the professional arborist – and include all the features they have come to expect.

Author: Talking about dial-style chain tensioners, “these are usually what you are going to find on a battery-powered saw.”

Again, this may be true for some, but leads the reader to believe that all are made this way, which is not accurate.

Author: “What about the rain? Well, this should be self-explanatory, but you should not be running a battery-powered saw in poor weather conditions. You will find that the manuals (you’re reading the manuals, right?) have several statements and scary icons mentioning that this is a big no-no. That is a pretty big negative against battery saws, as their usefulness in storm-cleanup situations is very limited.”

This, too, is manufacturer specific, because the Husqvarna saws are tested and certified to IPX4 classification. Saying that “the manuals” of battery saws will mention weather as a “big no-no” is not accurate.

Author: “The instantaneous torque provided by a battery-powered saw will not be stopped as quickly by protective clothing as with a gas-powered saw.”

We have studies and ongoing work on this topic (battery saws and chaps/chap pants), so I’m not prepared to share data, but to suggest that users be concerned about battery-powered saws alone is insufficient. The testing done for gas-powered saws should equally be questioned, unless there are specific references the author can point to for this note.

Author: In the conclusion, states, “Will we ever see a battery-powered ground saw designed for the professional? Maybe, but in the meantime, there are plenty of practical options on the market.”

I believe this to be a misleading statement, as there currently are options for the professional in this category.

I realize this is a 100% Husqvarna-biased response to the article. That said, we remain honored and ready to support TCIA with any content in the future.

Scott Sittler, marketing manager
Husqvarna Professional Products, Inc.
Charlotte, North Carolina

Safety is the same with battery and gasoline-operated saws

Thank you for the article. I have used battery-powered chain saws and pole saws for more than nine years and appreciate their versatility and performance in the right applications, and they keep getting better. However, the article includes a common, misleading statement: “The instantaneous torque provided by a battery-powered saw will not be stopped as quickly by protective clothing as with a gas-powered saw … Once again, you must be even more cautious with a battery-powered saw.” This implies that battery saws are more hazardous than conventional chain saws, a perception I frequently hear.

Many battery chain saws have overload or cut-out circuits that stop chain movement when excessive resistance is detected, to protect both the user and the tool. But current chain-saw protective clothing cannot be certified for use with battery and corded electric saws, because the testing standards and procedures are based on gasoline-powered saws.

From a performance standpoint, however, many current chaps, protective pants, etc., will stop many battery-
powered chain saws. YouTube is full of demonstrations showing this, which confirm some informal testing I have done with retired chaps. (https://clogger.reamaze.com/kb/chainsaw-protection-and-safety/do-chainsaw-pants-and-chaps-work-with-battery-electric-saws and https://blog.goclogger.com/top-10-chainsaw-chaps-pants-questions-answered/)

Of course, all personal protective equipment (PPE) may not stop all battery chain saws, just as some may not stop all gasoline chain saws; PPE is part of a safety system that includes training, work practices, etc., and manufacturers such as Stihl recommend the use of leg protection when using these saws. (https://www.stihlusa.com/products/protective-and-work-wear/chain-saw-protective-apparel/aprnchap/)

Battery-powered tools will increasingly become part of tree-workers’ gear, just as they have with building contractors. Proper use and care of the batteries is an important consideration, but hazards related to the saw function are not unique.

Philip Jacobs
safety consultant (retired)
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Weight is an issue with battery-operated saws

In the article, “Battery-Powered Chain-Saw Considerations,” only briefly was the issue of weight addressed. If manufacturers of battery-powered, handheld equipment really want to address weight and ergonomic issues, the battery would hang from your climbing saddle (or over your shoulder in the case of equipment that would be used on the ground, like pole saws or hedge trimmers). The reduction of weight supported by the arms and shoulders would be reduced dramatically.

And I realize that rain in California is but a distant memory, but if they are going to enact legislation banning the sale of gas-powered, small-engine equipment, it seems that manufacturers would first have to address the “scary icons” in the owners’ manuals mentioned in your article, or large segments of the green industry would be reduced to hand tools or taking the day off in the unlikely event they ever get rain.

Kurt Woltersdorf, owner
Woltersdorf, Inc.
Sanford, Maine

Editor’s note: We appreciate the feedback on Richard Jones’ column from all three writers, and acknowledge that it is one arborist’s perspective from his personal experience. TCI has covered the evolution of battery-operated chain saws for professional use in previous articles and will, no doubt, be doing so in the future as the technology continues to change. For additional background, visit these three relatively recent articles in our magazine archive at tcimag.tcia.org/magazine-archive/:

“Cordless Electric Chain Saws and Leg Protection,” by John Ball, Ph.D., CTSP, and Cary Shepherd, CTSP (TCI, March 2019).


“Caring for Your Battery-Powered Chain Saw,” by Rick Howland (TCI, June 2020)


“The Cordless Electric Chain Saw – a New Tool for the Trade,” by John Ball, Ph.D., CTSP (TCI, November 2018)


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1 Comment

  1. I have now 4 battery operated saws(5 2 cycle) only the stihl has dial chain tensioning. They are great they are great for scoring limbs going into the chipper don’t have to pull string every time. They are great using a pool saw tied in on a roof or a tripod ladder you don’t have to pull string all the time. We have a man basket for our loader that drives us during live oak canopy lift. Don;t have to crank string all the time. also, don’t have carburetor gunk gas mix up etc. Lastly i am using them when i am craning out tops before i have to go to the 261 and larger because they aren’t as noisy and easier to communicate.

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