Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Chainsaws (for around the home)

as it happens I have the occasional use for a chainsaw. Back in 2010 my lovely wife wanted one for the cutting trees in the yard but wanted an electric one. I think she was pleased / surprised when I put up no resistance (indeed encouragment) for her to buy an electric one. It was $99 and has been a "bottler" as we say in Australia.

I was cutting up a tree that I had to fell in the back yard of my new place and while I used the petrol one (that's Gas for Americans who don't realise that Gas is not actually a gas, or benzine for my European readers) to fell the tree and cut off the major branches I soon had the desire to drag it all closer to the house and use the electric to chop it up (firewood and then take the scraps to the dump).

The little (Bunnings) Ozito is a champ. It starts when you pull the trigger, and the oil feed just simply works. Indeed it sliced through green tree log with almost exactly the same speed as the Petrol one (which actually has a new chain that was first used on this exact day) even though the chain on the Ozito has cut down a few trees.

This is the thickness of the trunk of the "Californian Pepper Tree" I cut down and then cut into chunks with the Ozito.

And this is the little Ozito cutting down a small palm in the back yard of where my wife and I used to live.

Now I appreciate quite a lot of King Wang followers sledge the electric chainsaws as being gutless or being tethered to an electrical outlet. Its obvious that the electric supply need is there, but let me have a go at answering about the gutless part of this.

The little Ozito has a 1800W motor and a 14" bar. Being electric it will probably always put out a consistent power (as long as you have consistent power). Now lets assume that the motor is something like 80% efficient, that would still give us about 1,440 Watts of power (or for the maths challenged 1.4kW).

This is a new Husqvarna petrol chainsaw which I believe is comparable to my electric in many ways:

First note the difference in price ... $99 for the Ozito and $649 for the Husqvarna ... sure you can get a Ryobi for less (my Ryobi is about $210 right now, but you can bet it won't last you as long as either the Husquvarna or the electric).

Then you'll observe that that Husquvarna rated output is 1.5Kw which is actually quite close to the power output of my electric. I'm willing to bet that the Ryobi is less (as they aren't even willing to publish that).

However the petrol chainsaws power output is likely to fall to lower with a few issues:
  • motor wear over time (as the rings wear)
  • quality of fuel (did you get the premix right?)
  • is the air filter blocking things?
  • did you use ethanol (polluted) fuels, what is the octane?
  • is the fuel filter blocked at all (does it choke or bog down)
While the electric will be about the same over its service life (and came with a spare set of carbon brushes when I bought it (I'm still on the first)).

I've had the little Ozito now for about 6 years. It stays in storage with no fuss. A quick pull down and clean prior to storage is ideal, but compared to the petrol all I have to do is clean the blade (not drain the fuel system). A lazy operator may just put it away, as the bar oil constantly supplied may be enough to protect the bar and chain during storage. I usually spray the chain all with a round of Lanox (or WD40 if you don't have Lanox) ... For occasional use its really hard to knock the electric.

Now one of the reasons my wife wanted an electric chainsaw was that she has been involved in forestry most of her life. She has a Masters Degree in Forestry and her father owns a wood cutting business. So she knew well that while out in the forest you may not have power, but around the home (or the business place) that electricity was far more reliable. She's struggled with starting petrol chainsaws before and knows that you tend to struggle during the starting, and stink of fuel oil after doing a job.

My petrol chainsaw is a Ryobi 42cc one (so similar in some ways to the Husquvarna above). It is a bit temperamental to start and if the fuel filter is blocked (from say, letting the fuel dry out in it while in storage) then all bets are off. If the carburetor is a bit blocked or the plug oiled up then it will be a bitch to start. You may need a can of this handy:

No such problems with the electric. Indeed the only thing negative to say about the electric chainsaw is the obvious thing - it needs electricity.

So if you're cutting down / sawing up stuff in the urban / suburban areas then I reckon that you'll be glad you bought an electric too.


Øyvin Eikeland said...

This reminds me about the choice between electric and diesel/petrol cars. I bought a Stihl MS 181 C-BE about five years ago. I could have bougth an electric version but then I would not be able to go far from my house with it. The solution is then to either have one petrol chainsaw plus an electric chainsaw or have only the petrol chainsaw. The same argument goes for the car. If it makes sense to have two cars, one of them will naturally be electric. The Stihl chainsaw has been flawless by the way. Starts every time.

obakesan said...

Hi Øyvin
indeed it is like that argument. Depending on the needs assessment then it may be that only an electric is needed (for instance you never go past the length of the chord) or only a petrol (you need that and use it often).

Each "best answer" will come down to a needs assessment + a willingness to pay.
Stihl is the brand I'd probably go for too (it just happened that I found the Husquvarna data).

I once contemplated an electric car for my commute to work, not because I believed it could compete with a car like a Nissan Micra bought with 80,000Km on the clock (and all the depreciation gone but with thousands of good Km on it still) but because I wanted the learning exersize.

I thought a Mini Moke platform would be excellent, light weight and lots of flat surfaces for some solar panels on it to recharge during the parking lot stay. Assuming my parameters of 1.5 journeys between work and home I expected that the solar would give me out to 2.5 unless it was overcast and or raining. Being at work between 9am and 5pm I'd get peak sunlight hours for recharging. I estimated I'd be able to only need to recharge at home during the wet season days.

However out here where I live now, despite plenty of good sunlight, the distances I travel in a day (on some days) would mean it wouldn't work for me at all.

Noons said...

I recently got a small (250mm) Makita electric chainsaw from Total Tools.
It's got two rechargeable lithium batteries of 18V each, and I got it with the 4A/h ones.
It lasts and lasts and is the best thing I've found so far to keep all the hedges and trees in our garden here in Warriewood a decent size!
Dirt easy to use, it oils the chain really well and is nearly silent!
Comes with a safety switch paddle like so many others which locks the chain dead in a split hundredth of a second if the back of my left hand pushes it off.
The batteries each charge to full in less than 20 minutes with the Makita charger.
All up was a bit expensive, like most Makita tools.
But I must admit I got so much value out of it it's hard to say it's not worth it!
Next time I'll scan these Ozito ones as well.