Commercial chainsaws, or pro-grade chainsaws, are a different breed altogether when compared to homeowner chainsaws. Traditionally, "commercial-grade" referred to the heavy duty, gas-powered giants used by professional loggers and foresters. These chainsaws are heavier, bigger, and pack some serious horsepower under the hood.
But recently, lighter electric saws have also appeared in the pro segment, mainly aimed at tasks like landscaping and on-site wood cutting. Let's check out some of the top rated chainsaws for commercial use available in the market in 2017.
Commercial use of chainsaws can be either heavy-duty, or medium to light-duty activities. Heavy-duty professional chainsaws are used to cut and chop wood all throughout the year. They can be used out in the forest, or in a mill or lumber yard setting. Gas-powered saws are the primary option here, as electric saws simply don't have the necessary chops to handle the workload.
And if we were to pick the top brands in this heaviest category, there are two brands which dominate. A Husqvarna vs Stihl chainsaw contest rages on most pro wood cutting forums, with neither name coming out as the clear winner. Some estimates suggest that nearly 90% of the professional logging crowd prefer one amongst these two brands.
In this video, for instance, an expert from a Saw Shop gives his opinion regarding both Stihl and Husqvarna saws for the first time buyer:
For lighter wood cutting tasks, smaller chainsaws from other brands like Poulan Pro, Echo, and Tanaka may also be considered. These are also gas powered models. When it comes to commercial pruning, landscaping, and gardening, electric chainsaws may be a better option, especially in suburban settings. Makita, DeWalt and GreenWorks Pro are good choices in this category.
When it comes to professional-grade saws, the gas vs. electric debate is pretty simple and straightforward. Gas is the only choice for logging and forestry crews for several reasons. Gasoline-powered saws are far stronger than any electric saw out there. And in outdoor settings, they offer far more mobility than electric saws, especially corded ones.
Gas is also a more convenient power source to manage and access in remote areas than electricity. Gas saws are also more durable than electric saws and can handle more workloads for a long time continuously.
And in logging and mill settings, their cons like loud operating noise and emissions are not major issues.
When it comes to cutting trees and chopping wood all year round, electric saws are not even in the background as probable options. These devices just cannot handle all that punishment. They are more suited for commercial landscaping activities, as well as any indoor, shop-based wood cutting activities.
To their credit, electric chainsaws are more discreet and ideally suited for quieter urban and suburban settings. For mobile tasks in gardening and landscaping, battery powered saws might be the best choice. Corded saws offer more power at the cost of mobility, and are best suited for woodworkers, woodturners, and carpenters who need a saw for some basic cutting and chopping in their shop.
Affectionately called the "Husky," this brand of saws is a firm favorite among pro loggers, with the Stihl commercial chainsaw models being its sole competition.
If you were to ask: "who makes the best chainsaw in the world," Husqvarna could be considered a solid answer. It is a Swedish brand with a history dating back several centuries.
This particular Husky is one of the top chainsaws in the business, with a 60cc engine and a long 24-inch bar chain. This makes it ideal for cutting down bigger trees, in the 25+ inches category. With the power of 3.62 horses, it can cut through both hard and soft kinds of wood with equal ease.
The X-Torq engine delivers excellent power and torque while reducing emissions and fuel consumptions to acceptable levels. Noise levels are on the higher side at 104-114 dB(A), but that is only to be expected from a gas chainsaw of this size. You can't win them all, you know!
The saw has some excellent safety features, including an inertia activated brake that can help avoid kickback related injuries and accidents. The Low-Vib system keeps vibrations to a minimum, assist the operator to have more control over the saw. This is a great feature that can reduce fatigue after continuous use.
Maintenance is quite easy, with a chain tension adjustment and oiler built into the saw. Overall, this is a top chainsaw for heavy duty logging and wood chopping.
With a smaller engine and shorter bar chain, this Poulan Pro is suited for commercial activities that do not have to deal with large trees.
It can still handle heavy logs up to 20" thick pretty easily. Poulan is an established US brand with a national presence, currently owned by the Husqvarna company.
The 38cc engine has adequate power for most moderate tasks. And the smaller engine also means that the fuel costs and noise levels are kept low. The air filter helps maintain good power figures while keeping fuel consumption low. At 12 lbs, it is not too heavy and can be wielded for hours without too much fatigue.
It comes with an automatic oiling system, which is a great feature that ensures that the chain stays oiled at all times. This is important for the durability and longevity of a chainsaw. Most gas chainsaws face issues with startup, especially in warmer and colder climates. The Poulan Pro is equipped with a primer bulb which enables you to start the engine with the minimum amount of fuss quickly.
With a smaller sized engine and a shorter blade, this saw is not designed for the heavy duty cutting and felling tasks. As long as you use within its prescribed limits, this is one of the best-rated chainsaws for light commercial activities.
Tanaka used to be a top chainsaw brand company back in the day until they were bought by their Japanese rival Hitachi. The brand is still well-regarded by chainsaw buyers and has some good models in their catalog.
This particular saw is a gas powered model with a mid-level 40cc engine. The 2.4 HP engine is commercial grade, which means that it can handle continuous usage with ease.
And the 18-inch bar is an excellent choice, with dimensions that are neither too short, nor too long. Starting this saw is relatively easy, thanks to the S-Start feature. This feature can halve the amount of pull force required to start the engine, which is always a good thing to have when out working in the field.
Chain adjustment is a real chore, but a vital one, that we all have to deal with on a regular basis when using chainsaws. The Tanaka has a chain tensioner located at the side of the engine, which is perfect for quick and easy access to this often-used feature.
The 2-stroke engine is CARB compliant, meaning it has low emissions figures and is compliant with stringent laws in states like California. The engine is bound to an anti-vibration system that increases comfort, control, and safety, especially in extended usage. The D-style handle on the rear is a bonus, as it is very comfortable to hold.
For medium to light-duty commercial cutting and chopping the Tanaka is a safe choice. It comes with a 2-year commercial warranty and has a nice balance between bar length and engine size. It is a top choice at an affordable price range.
This brand is well known for their affordable electric outdoor tools, especially in the homeowner segment.
This battery powered saw is their foray into the pro-grade category. The result is one of the first heavy duty electric saw for commercial activities ever designed.
With a massive 80 volt 2ah battery, this saw promises to deliver 150 cuts on a single charge, which translates into roughly one hour of run time. And the battery only takes 30 minutes to recharge, meaning you can get back to work in no time. So that means that you can keep working continuously if you have two batteries.
The brushless motors are rated with power figures comparable to a 45cc gas engine, which makes this electric saw a capable mid range saw. And it has all the advantages of electric engines over gas, with zero emissions, minimal noise, and fewer fuel costs. The engines also vibrate much less than gasoline engines, meaning there is less fatigue even after prolonged use.
The Pro saw also has some nice safety features, like an electronic chain brake for protection against kickback. Though not designed for heavy duty logging, the 18" bar can still handle regular 8" and 10" logs and woods with ease. This is a great environment-friendly option for professionals looking for an electric alternative to their mid-powered gas saws.
This Makita saw has a 16-inch blade, ideal for cutting smaller pieces of wood and logs. It is a great choice for a workshop, since it runs extremely quiet, with zero emissions. Chain maintenance is an absolute breeze, thanks to a nifty "tool-less" adjustment feature.
Starting this saw is a smooth affair, thanks to the large trigger switch, which can be easily operated using gloved hands as well. With power coming from an outlet, this saw has enough power to cut through most hard and soft woods, despite a slower speed when compared to gas-powered saws.
The motor is protected from overheating by an inbuilt system that reduces power when the saw is under heavy load. This helps increase the longevity of the machine. The saw uses an automatic oiler for hassle free maintenance. The grips and handles are rubberized and offer a comfortable hold.
The Makita is an interesting choice for woodworking professionals who need a power saw without the cons that plague gas powered saws.
Professional saws tend to be heavy gas powered variants with over-sized engines and long bar chains. Though these are great for cutting trees and chopping larger logs, there are other commercial settings where such power figures are not exactly necessary. In our shortlist of the Top Rated Chainsaws, we have tried to include models that can fit the bill for a wider range of commercial activities.
That being said, among the traditional pro-saws, the Husqvarna is undoubtedly one of the best-rated chainsaws, with a powerful engine, excellent engineering and design, and dependable build quality and durability. As one of the most reliable chainsaw models, it is a good choice if you plan to chop down a lot of thick trees or cut large logs down on a daily basis.