Husqvarna 542i XP Battery Saw

TCI Magazine greatly appreciates the volunteer efforts of the two field testers for this product review, Chris Girard, owner of Girard Tree Service, and Ryan Torcicollo, CTSP, with SavATree.

Two New England arborists put the Husqvarna 542i XP battery-powered chain saw through its paces.
Two New England arborists put the Husqvarna 542i XP battery-powered chain saw through its paces. TCIA staff photos.

“It’s a good saw.
I think it’s going to be a hit!”

Here’s how this all went down. Husqvarna shipped two 542i XP battery-powered chain saws to TCIA in Manchester, New Hampshire, and for this field test, I visited the separate job sites of Chris Girard and Ryan Torcicollo on two occasions each. I gave them each a box with the saw and its accessories to unbox and share their first impressions of the tool. This is always the fun part for me – are they going to be excited or disappointed? I stood at the ready with all my recording devices running at full speed.

Wet ’n’ wild

I found Girard at a very soggy wood lot in the New Hampshire Lakes Region, which was actually a good test to see how a battery-powered piece of equipment would respond in muddy conditions. He thumbed through the operations manual first thing and discovered the many features of the battery saw as he looked over the device.

His overall impression at the unboxing was surprise at how balanced the saw was, even with a battery connected to the housing. He seemed very anxious to put the saw through its paces for a week in the New Hampshire woodlands, so I departed with the faintest sound of a chain running smoothly over a metal bar in the background. So quiet!

The saw jammed with the Kevlar fibers from the protective pants ...
The saw jammed with the Kevlar fibers from the protective pants …

Sea breeze

I headed to Torcicollo’s job site along the Massachusetts seacoast to capture his first impressions of the 542i XP. He was expecting it to be heavier, and immediately commented on the weight compared to a gas-powered saw of the same size. He couldn’t really tell the difference. That would mean very little adjustment when switching to the 542i XP from another saw. Keep that production going!

We were both anxious to see if this battery saw would do what everyone was hoping it would. It has a centrifugal clutch, which has many benefits but is specifically intended to stop the spinning chain if it cuts into the Kevlar fibers of cut-resistant chain-saw pants. Ryan stuffed a leg-sized log into a pair of lighter weight, cut resistant pants, and I set up my recording devices again.
He “started” the saw (pressed a button,) revved up to full speed and lowered the bar onto the chain-saw pants. The accompanying photos tell the story.

... but there was no damage to the interior lining of the pants.
… but there was no damage to the interior lining of the pants.

Back to the woods

After a few days, I went back to the woodlands of the New Hampshire Lakes Region. Girard was prepping to climb a 125-foot eastern white pine that had been hit by lightning a few years ago. He had the 542i XP pressed to the limit while limbing up the tree in preparation for a speed-line-assisted branch removal.

Sure, this wasn’t the largest tree in the world, but he said the battery-powered saw performed with as much power as any gas-powered saw in its class. He got it down into 14-inch wood before the oiler light indicated the saw needed oil. And that is a pretty handy feature in itself. Keep that chain spinning.

After a week with the saw, and with many great things to say, Girard’s wrap-up comment was, “It’s a good saw. I think it’s going to be a hit.”

Southbound

I headed back south after a quick stop at everyone’s favorite orange, pink and white donut shop to see how Ryan fared after a week with the top-handled, battery-powered chain saw. We chatted a bit about the centrifugal clutch and how it allows you to stop a cut mid-way through, then just start right up again without the need to remove the saw. He demonstrated that while taking down a mostly dead beech tree, which has very dense wood.

The best look at the chain saw in action before the helmet-mounted camera fell off as Chris Girard repositioned. It happens ...
The best look at the chain saw in action before the helmet-mounted camera fell off as Chris Girard repositioned. It happens …

It really was impressive to see how the chain simply stopped at throttle release and then started up again while in the cut. No lag in production. Plus, that small action when added up over the course of hundreds of cuts per tree helps with battery longevity.

The big test

The big test, besides cutting up the pair of cut-resistant chain-saw pants earlier, was to see how the saw cut the remaining 5 feet of trunk wood of that dense beech. The tree was about 20 inches at the base, and the saw had about three-quarters of its battery life left. Check out the video – the little saw that could, did. Sure, it bogged down a bit as the battery emptied, but to see a battery-powered, top-handled saw cut through this stem was more than impressive.

Ryan’s wrap-up comment was, “It feels a lot like a gas saw. So, overall, extremely impressed.”

Check out a collection of additional comments Girard and Torcicollo made during the field tests below. According to them, “There’s a little room for improvement, Husqvarna, but not much.”

Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP, is staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association.
To view a video of this product in use, go to tcimag.tcia.org and, under the Resources tab, click videos.

This review reflects the thoughts and opinions of the reviewers as a user and does not constitute or imply an endorsement of the product referenced, nor is it an endorsement of any specific company, product or service. Every entity or individual should review and test all products for applicability, safety and efficacy in their particular operation.

To watch a video of this product review click here.

TCI Magazine product reviews are available to TCIA corporate members as a benefit of their membership. Certain limitations apply. Contact erodewald@tcia.org for more information.

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