The author has worked in conservation and woodland management over many years.
The Benefits of a Good Electric Pole Saw
If you have any shrubs or trees on your property, pruning is a job that you cannot ignore. It is also an enjoyable way to spend time in a backyard, as long as you have the right tools for the job.
The best electric pole saws are ideal for cutting branches that are too tough, or too thick, for hand pruners.
The extra reach of an extension pole will save you the labor of setting and resetting a ladder repeatedly. Keeping your feet firmly on the ground is always safer, too!
Pole pruners can often reach past thick masses of leaves to target the branches that most need cutting.
When to Choose a Corded Electric Device
Corded electric pole saws are ideal for use in smaller backyards. A quality device will have enough power to cut branches several inches across. They will usually outperform cordless models and they are cheaper to buy.
At the same time, a corded device may not be practical for very large properties where long cables need to be run.
If you have a lot of trees, spread over a large area, gas power is probably your best option.
Avoid Using in Dense Foliage
Thin twigs and dense foliage get chewed up with any kind of power saw. The result is ugly and your device can jam or be damaged. Brush is better tackled with garden shears, a hedge trimmer or, in some cases, a weed eater/strimmer.
Things to Look Out for When Choosing the Best Machine
Sawing at Ground Level and Detachable Pole Saws
Many machines can be used for sawing at ground level (as illustrated above) but it is often easier if the chainsaw can simply be taken off the pole.
If you do not mind working from a ladder, this kind of detachable chainsaw can offer extra options for pruning hard to reach branches too.
Some pole saws have the motor at the end you hold, and cannot be taken off. The advantage of with this kind of pole saw is that it is better balanced, less unwieldy and easier on your shoulders.
If a manufacturer says their product has a 'ten-foot reach' this does not mean it is ten feet long. The pole is actually a few feet shorter than ten feet, and your arms provide the extra reach.
Most electric pole saws have a working height of 12 to 15 feet.
Need a Longer Reach?
A manual pole pruner might be all you need for pruning small branches. They can often reach higher, too. A professional manual pole saw can reach 25 feet!
Find out more here Best Manual Pole Pruners and Saws
What Size Branches can an Electric Pole Saw Cut?
Eight amp machines can tackle softwood branches several inches across. Four or five-inch branches are a breeze, even with hardwood trees.
The 'guide bar', the plate of steel that the chain spins around, is a rough guide to the size of branches the saw can cut. A ten-inch bar will cut an eight-inch branch with ease, and so on.
What do they Weigh?
Most electric pole saws weigh less than ten pounds which is a lot lighter than a big gas model.
For people used to being active in their backyards, these machines will not present too much of a challenge.
Having said that, bear in mind that they can still be a strain on your back, especially if you not too fit. A manual pole pruner will be slower but it will be lighter.
The biggest problem with any chainsaw is kick-back. If the blade jams in the wood, the power of the motor kicks back. With powerful chain saws this can mean they twist out of inexperienced hands.
The electric chain saws on this page are less of a danger than a big gas-machine but you should still take care to read the instructions before use.
As with any machinery, a hard hat, safety glasses and a tough pair of gloves are recommended. Avoid loose clothing that can snag on the chain and drag you to the blades.
Inspect cables for damage regularly. An electric safety cut out
Corded or Cordless?
- Corded models are perfect for smaller jobs. There is none of the nuisance of running power cables.
- Corded are cheaper to buy for the same power and will not quit on you. You won't need to be charging batteries all the time either.
Electric chainsaws are easy to look after but still need some basic care.
- All chain saws need oil to lubricate the chain. Keep topping up the oil chamber and keep an eye on the level indicator. Most models have a button that you need to press to squirt lubricant onto the blades.
- Keeping the chain at the right tension is essential and requires familiarizing yourself with the adjustment features.
- Make sure you have the blades facing forward each time you install a chain.
- Check electrical cables regularly.
- Keep grit out of moving parts.
- Store in a dry place.
The Best Models?
The Remington Ranger (pictured above)
Remington is one of the most successful makers of electric pole saws. The latest 8-amp Ranger model will cut limbs up to 15 feet above the ground when fully extended.
The inner pole is aluminum which adds rigidity and the outer pole is fiberglass. Together they make a tough combination that will never rust.
The chain saw head comes off easily and can be used separately from the pole, as you can see in the picture, above.
The sturdy hand guard will save your knuckles from unpleasant scrapes.
Worx Ten-inch Bar
The Worx WG309 is a couple of pounds heavier than most 8-Amp pole saws but is versatile and easy to assemble.
The ten-inch bar will allow you to cut thick branches.
They have been issues with the chain becoming loose which are fixable with a little patience.
The plastic construction is reassuringly chunky and rigid.
The Inexpensive Earthwise 6 Amp Telescopic
6-Amp pole saws are not the best choice for tougher trees. Hardwoods can be a challenge.
On the other hand, if you are mostly working on softwood trees, not in a hurry and your backyard is not too big, an eighty dollar machine like the Earthwise PS43008 might be enough for your needs.
The telescopic pole allows you to choose the best working height but on the downside, it tends to flex in operation.
The head can be re-positioned to help you get the best cutting angle for different jobs.
It has a neat self-lubricating system for the chain that genuinely works unlike some models where you are better off lubricating the chain with an oil can.
The 20-volt cordless pole saw from Black and Decker packs a punch. The Lithium ion battery allows you to cut around one hundred 1-1/2-inch pine branches per charge.
Cordless pole saws are ideal for pruning where power outlets are hard to reach and when manual saws are hard for people to use. For larger jobs, spare batteries save frustration.
Cordless models tend to be heavier than corded -- weighing upwards of around 15-pounds. If you have a lot of trees to prune, the extra weight can tell.
The Black and Decker 20V Lithium model with an 8-inch bar is around $150. It has a 14-foot reach and disassembles into three short sections for storage.
The Quick Video Guide to Pole Saw Use
The promo video from Remington, below, is a useful guide to using any pole saw and offers invaluable basic safety tips.
Consider a Jawsaw
WORX has a very useful machine that is not quite a conventional pole chainsaw, but does the same job.
Essentially, the chainsaw runs on the inside of a pair of jaws. Once you have a branch in the jaws, you press a button and the jaws close.
It works to a height of twelve feet and cuts branches up to a thickness of four inches. It can be used with or without the pole.
The chief advantage is safety. It is much harder to injure yourself with this kind of arrangement. If the Jawsaw falls on you, it would be unlikely to bring the blades into contact with your body.
A Gas Alternative
Husky has a gas powered pole saw that can also clear undergrowth with the right attachments. As such, this may be the go-to tool for keeping all vegetation in a large backyard in order.
Although one of the more expensive options, if you have big, tough branches to cope with and a big area to cover, it has the power, portability and speed you need on its side.
Start-up is easy and, once warm, the 28cc engine delivers the kind of power that will easily slice through six-inch hardwood branches.
With a weight of ten pounds, most people will be comfortable using it.
The cultivator attachment will help you turn a weed patch into a vegetable patch without breaking your back.