5 Best Small Battery Powered Chainsaws for 2020

What defines a ‘small’ chainsaw?

The guide bar length will usually be the defining component of the chainsaw.

This I would recommend to be 14″ and under

The overall size is of course is an important factor in terms of weight and ergonomics though its the guide bar that is significant as this will be whats in contact when cutting.

Common uses for small chainsaws and appropriate guide bar size

Felling a small tree – 12-14″
Firewood cutting – 12-16″
Trimming branches – 12-16

Background

I didn’t need a poignant stare into a roaring fireplace or sip a glass of Chateux Deyrem to remind me of that October night.

Swirling, relentless winds battering all and sundry left nothing but devastation in the petrified forest behind my home. Bludgeoned trees, mangled bushes and fences, utterly obliterated, lay all around leaving me open mouthed and despondent. Resigned to the fact there’d be a hefty tidy-up job come morning, it prompted 2 major thoughts requiring urgent attention.

1) check my home insurance and 2) take the plunge and pick up a chainsaw.

A good friend of mine who has history with chainsaws passed by on his way home from work, curious I’m sure, at the potential of picking up some trophies following the storm.

To be fair to him and everyone around, he is rather gung-ho to say the least when it comes to using and abusing power tools. So when he kindly offered me his battered, bruised but extremely capable chainsaw, I’m sure, my immediate thought should have been one of kindness and gratitude but unfortunately leapt to horrific visions of annihilation.
It was like having this flash-forward to some horror show blood fest with the chain flying off into someones eye or the motor exploding in my hands. All I could hear was laughing, maniacal laughing before hearing footsteps walking menacingly in my direction.

3,2,1 I was back in the room. I politely declined his generous offer, stating it was about time I bought one myself but did appease his act of goodwill by suggesting he come and help with the clear-up and attack the fallen trees.

the once petrified forest, now back to its beautiful best
logs from a fallen tree

Requirement

My chainsaw research lead me in a number of directions, and from what I witnessed in the forest I found myself considering the requirements for slicing and dicing the trunks and branches that seemed to be everywhere.
The woods were vast so needed a reliable device, that much I was certain.
So electric or gas? Small or large? Blade size?

I needed something that was small form – 14-16″ max. 
The chainsaw I was offered on loan had around a 20″ guide bar. Not being an experienced user at the time I didn’t feel comfortable using it.  Hacking things off that shouldn’t be hacked off sent shivers down my spine.
The trees weren’t huge but were long and awkward, especially how they’d fallen. 
The 20″ would do the job but I deemed it overkill. 

Parting of the Cash

Based on cost, usage and ergonomics (I found that all had very good safety features as standard) I opted for a Ryobi One+ 14″ battery powered chainsaw. 
I’d already had a couple of One + items in the range so didn’t need extra of different batteries and was one of the few 14″ battery options available under $150.
Saftey-wise, it had the wrap-around handle and was relatively light for a newbie like me. There were heights I’d need to scale so weight was a factor I needed to consider.

Once assembled, I confronted the mashed-up mess beyond my half missing fence, armed and ready for battle. The chainsaw was light enough to be easily carried with one arm.
After few false starts with handling and kickback, adjusting to the new tool was smoother than I’d anticipated and proceeded to hack the best part of 3 trees and remove untold branches from the paths and clearings around the forest. 
Some trunks were a lot harder to bite into so left that to Leatherface and his 20″ behemoth. 

All in all, it was a successful first venture into the world of bulk chainsawing and based on this experience I’d like to recommend the latest equivalent saws I’d definitely consider, should my current chainsaw fail or disappear.

Best Small Battery Powered Chainsaw for 2020

Guide bar Length (ins)

Weight (lbs)

Voltage

BLACK+DECKER LCS1240

12

10.4

40v

BLACK+DECKER LCS1020

10

7.2

20v

Greenworks 12-Inch

6.1

12

40v

Makita XCU02Z

8.8

12

18v

Worx WG322

6.9

10

20v

#1 BLACK & DECKER LCS1240

The first chainsaw on this list is the BLACK & DECKER LCS1240. Its has a 12″ guide bar that would have been suitable for most of the trunks – I may have had to make a couple passes for some but had no issues when tackling the branches.

Plenty of juice in the 40V Lithium Ion battery though would always recommend getting at least 2 batteries if you have the means. One will do but if you feel you’ll be out there for a while, a second or even third battery will make your the job less stressful.
An excellent addition is the Oregon low-kickback bar and chain tool-free chain tensioning.This seems to be standard on most models and this one is no exception. Automatic oiling is a great feature for the keeping the bar and chain primed.

Key Features

  • weight – 10.4lbs
  • power – 40V Li ion battery
  • guide bar length – 12″
  • Automatic oiling
  • Tool-free tensioning

Whats in the box?

  • 1 x chainsaw
  • 1 x battery
  • 1 x battery charger
  • instructions

Main uses

With the 12″ bar you’d be hard pushed tackling larger trunks or sustained cutting of harder woods. Its ideal for smaller trunks (one or two passes wont be too difficult), branches, pruning or trimming.

Summary

Has been positively reviewed and no surprise, it’s neat and tidy that will cut what its designed to. Compact and ergonomic I’d be very tempted to part with my cash. Its also very well priced and includes a 40v battery.
This will give you longer life but consider picking up an additional battery

#2 BLACK & DECKER LCS1020

The BLACK & DECKER LCS1020 is the junior brother to the LCS1240.

It has a 10-inch guide bar and a lower powered 20V Li ion battery. For what I needed, it would have been completed the job but better suited to slicing branches, especially if this was dedicated to just this task. 
In terms of features it has the same premium Oregon low kickback bar & chain as well as the tool-free blade tension system. A key feature is its weight at only 7.2 pounds. For someone less experienced, there would be little issue coming to terms with this model and using it to hack away smaller trunks and branches. 

Key Features

  • weight – 7.2lbs
  • power – 20v Li ion battery
  • guide bar – 10″
  • Tool-free tensioning
  • Oil gauge

Whats in the box?

  • 1 x chainsaw
  • 1 x battery
  • 1 x battery charger
  • instructions

Main Uses

I’d use this for smaller trunks and branches. This is something I’d likely be doing more often than wafting through the aftermath of a storm. Will not be practical for anything larger than 8″ diameters – it will work but you’d be compromising the chainsaw as a whole. The battery will be fine for smaller jobs around the garden. Again, get a spare if you can. 

Summary

Great tool for the smaller tasks around the garden. Well priced and includes a 20v battery. Light and practical so also suitable for anyone wanting to get to grips with their first chainsaw. Not intimidating and requires low maintenance. 

#3 Greenworks 12" 40V

Another capable chainsaw that comes in cheaper than the B&D 1240 is the Green Works G-MAX.
It has a similar spec – 40V Li-ion battery, 12-inch guide bar, automatic oiling and tool-less tensioning.
What I like about this model is the design. Its very well balanced to keep you well balanced. Great ergonomics and simple to operate.

Key Features

  • weight – 6.1lbs
  • power – 40V Li ion battery
  • guide bar length – 12″
  • Automatic oiling
  • 3/8-inch chain pitch
  • Tool-free tensioning

Whats in the box?

 

  • 1 x chainsaw
  • 1 x battery
  • 1 x battery charger
  • instructions

 

Main Uses

With the 12″ bar you’d be hard pushed tackling larger trunks or sustained cutting of harder woods. Its ideal for smaller trunks (one or two passes wont be too difficult), branches, pruning or trimming.

 

Summary

This chainsaw has a lot of positives and is a good 4 pounds lighter than the Black & Decker LCS1240.
Thats significant. Green Works have a really good design and this will appeal to the novice and intermediate user alike. Ergonomic and powerful. Interestingly, many reviews have been from 55yo + buyers. The low weight/low maintenance is apparently a huge factor. 

#4 Makita XCU02Z

If you’ve read other reviews on this site you’ll quickly deduce I have a fondness for Makita tools. OK – the XCU02Z is a bare tool only but don’t let this deter you. Its as solid and reliable as they come. Its can be powered by two 18V LXT batteries. Features include 12” guide bar, tool-less chain adjustments and has a low noise levels.

Key Features

  • weight – 8.8lbs
  • power – 1 or 2 x 18v Li ion batteries
  • guide bar length – 12″
  • 89 dBa low noise output
  • Tool-free tensioning

Whats in the box?

  • 1 x chainsaw
  •  instructions

Main Uses

With the 12″ bar you’d be hard pushed tackling larger trunks or sustained cutting of harder woods. Its ideal for smaller trunks (one or two passes wont be too difficult), branches, pruning or trimming.

 

Summary

Its the priciest chainsaw on the list. What it lacks in features it makes up for in Makita build quality and reliability. Plus you have the Makita 18v LXT battery options that can be interchanged with other tools. Being a bare tool may put some buyers off but do consider it as it will last you a eternity. I didn’t have this luxury when my needs where pretty critical but had I been looking for an investment, I’d be teeing off with one of these.

#5 Worx WG322

Yes, this WORX chainsaw has a smaller 10″ guide bar though I’ll give you my reasons for selecting this in my shortlist.
Aside from it having all the features to make using it painless; tool-free auto chain tension and automatic oiling operation, it has an ergonomic, well-balanced design and is light. Hugely encouraging for newbies to pick one up and start chopping. 

Key Features

  • weight – 6.9 lbs
  • power – 20v Li ion
  • guide bar – 10″
  • Automatic oiling
  • Tool-free tensioning

Whats in the box?

  • 1 x chainsaw
  • 1 x battery
  • 1 x battery charger
  • instructions

 

Main Uses

Again, I’d use this for smaller trunks and branches. Will not be practical for anything larger than 8″ diameters – it will work but you’d be compromising the chainsaw as a whole. The battery will be fine for smaller jobs around the garden. I’d get a spare battery.

 

Summary

Like the Black & Decker LCD1020, it offers great portability due to its form and size. The Worx has the benefit of auto chain oiling and is a pound lighter. I’d be very tempted to purchase one of these based on its value.