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solar electric chainsaw  RSS feed

 
Posts: 165
Location: Slovakia
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Tim Wheaton wrote:Makita 36v cordless: unbalanced under powered. Wrist breaker.

Makita corded: in the repair shop again

Green works 40v cordless: underpowered. Complains at the slightest bind. Does not apply enough bar oil

Remengton corded: cheap. Unrefined. Too big of chain for its weight. Has a 50/50 chance of leaking off its bar oil when not in use.

Still 046 440 441 017: loud. Stinky. Messy. But still the weight balance and power needed to get it done timely



To pitch the Husqvarna again

It has a thinner chain, 14" bar. One of my neighbors, who works in the forest logging said that it was great when he was helping me get firewood, cutting as fast as his saw.

If anyone was taking a trip to Europe, I would recommend picking one up to bring back to the U.S., as Husqvarna is dragging its feet releasing their battery-system in the U.S. (and if you do get one, the information on travel with lithium-ion batteries would be useful: http://safetravel.dot.gov/larger_batt.html )

Some videos that convinced me when I was trying to decide what saw to get last year:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGFNCap2ckg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZwA9JSaUis

though these videos show the "top-handle" version which is used by arborist when climbing in trees and cutting and isn't recommended to be used on the ground, so I got the "normal-handle" version.
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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In my estimation, (battery) electric tools have come a looong way in recent years.
Twenty years ago, most professionals would have laughed at you if you bought a battery powered power tool.
Today, most of them now have one...even if it is just for quick chores around the house on week-ends.

You are not going to see a logging crew carrying a bunch of battery operated dildos chain saws into the woods today. Maybe in a few more years, but not now.

For the typical homesteader, these tools will probably do everything you need done. Even off grid, there are hours of the day that can be devoted to keeping the batteries up to snuff.

I really enjoyed Tim's review post, with the talk about balance. I used to have an old Homelite "mini-chainsaw". The thing was so well balanced that I could put a Nelson-lock on the trunk with my legs, and reach out full length and prune to my heart's content. A chainsaw that does not have a good balance is useless (in my opinion) for aloft work, and only marginally acceptable for ground work.

By today's standards, I need a gas saw for my major cutting needs. For light pruning, and yard work, an electric would be fine if it had a decent balance. If I ever see one of those old Homelites at a yard sale, I'm probably buying it...I can keep a 2-stroke running forever until the piston melts!

I think that my thinking has to follow along the lines of "who buys them".
Husqvarna is the #1 seller amongst professional lumberjacks...I'm not one. I hope to never put an 80 hour week in the woods cutting wood.
Stihl is the #1 seller to rental yards...tells me something about their maintenance costs...
...let any Joe Dirt have it for the weekend, and it will be good to go on Monday morning.
 
pollinator
Posts: 138
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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I have been here at wheaton labs using the greenworks electric saw extensively, first on the wofati project and more recently for cutting firewood and creating log-lined tent platforms. I am pretty sensitive to fumes so am glad to have the chance to use an electric chainsaw, however a number of issues have come up with this saw that I'd like to share.

The bar oil has never worked properly. At first it just seemed to apply less than needed. More recently it stopped entirely. A couple of people here looked at it but it wasn't something that could be fixed here. We have recently been applying oil directly to the bar with a squeeze bottle periodically while in use, which takes up time.

The chain tightener is made out of cheap plastic and has issues. I have gotten used to some of its quirks and check it periodically now, but it's still a problem. The chain can easily loosen and pop off if you're not careful.

It is not all that powerful, but is fine for cutting our wood (predominantly douglas fir and ponderosa pine, both relatively soft and light) 12 inches in diameter or less as long as it's properly sharpened. I'm from Missouri where there's mostly oak, hickory and other hardwoods, I doubt this chainsaw would do very well with those of any size.

The batteries take several hours to charge fully. One of them recently has had an issue that it registers as charged (green) when empty, although it still starts charging, registers as red later in the charging cycle, then registers as green again when it's actually charged. We would need more than the two batteries that we have to use it consistently for a whole day.

When the above issues are under control, it cuts well and has a well balanced weight. It certainly is far better than the battery makita, which is wieghted so awful that it's very uncomfortable to use. The issues with the oil and the tightener have nothing to do with the fact of it being electric, so I assume it's possible to build an electric chainsaw with more sturdy parts that doesn't have those issues.
 
Posts: 134
Location: Coastal temperate deciduous forest (Boston) - zone 6b - 44" rain/year
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Makita corded electric, or Stihl if you have the money. Serious saws that work for years without any issues. I've used the Makita, the corded saw has better balance than the cordless.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3738
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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I really like my Oregon with the built in sharpener. I've been giving it a good workout.
 
master steward
Posts: 26661
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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we have owned our makita corded saw for less than a year and it has needed to go into the shop for repair twice.
 
Andrew Ray
Posts: 165
Location: Slovakia
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Richard Kastanie wrote:
The batteries take several hours to charge fully.

The issues with the oil and the tightener have nothing to do with the fact of it being electric, so I assume it's possible to build an electric chainsaw with more sturdy parts that doesn't have those issues.



Yep, it is possible. Just wait for the Husqvarna to come to the U.S., though maybe a bias against battery electric tools as well as its price point prevent that.
 
Posts: 125
Location: Gold Coast Hinterland QLD, Australia
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I'd love to have a go of one of these. They look awesome for limbing and small quick jobs.
2 issues I find with keeping a petrol saw in the car - fumes and heat (after being used)!
Since I'm into the mushroom growing at the moment I think these would be great to keep in the car for after storms or random opportunities that I might get to cut some log for shitakes

Mat
 
Mat Smith
Posts: 125
Location: Gold Coast Hinterland QLD, Australia
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The noise level sounds really good too. Hard to tell from the video, but doesn't sound like you would need earmuffs.
In my experience, reduced hearing due to earmuffs or loud noise increases the danger in a lot of scenarios, and that increase in risk is multiplied when there is more than 1 person working!
 
Andrew Ray
Posts: 165
Location: Slovakia
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So the chainsaw that I'm in love with is finally available in the U.S.:
Husqvarna battery saws

Now they also offer a backpack-battery which would probably last for a day in the woods.

Which also means y'all can get it cheaper than I can here in the EU (no 20% sales tax like in Slovakia), which means that when my mother asks what I want for Christmas, the answer will be a couple of more batteries since she will probably be able to buy them significantly cheaper than I can here.

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 26661
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Hot off the press. A review of the electric chainsaws we have here at Wheaton Labs.



Emily Aaston, Lumberjill (as opposed to lumberjack) reviews two gas chainsaws and five electric chainsaws, including two corded saws and three cordless saws. She also touches on felling trees with a crosscut saw and an ax.

Emily has dropped trees for over ten years for the national parks service before setting up shop at Wheaton Labs. She has used Stih and Husqvarna (Husky) chainsaws.

Using electric chainsaws have their problems. The idea is not to be perfect, but to find something that could be "better".

Emily starts with a Stihl 170 - to compare to the electric saws. She points out that gas saws have been optimized a lot over the decades, while electric saws are still pretty new to the scene. It is reliable, has good balance, needs gasoline mixed with oil and sometimes starting can be tricky.

The electric chainsaws are from Remington, Makita, Greenworks and Oregon.

The Remington electric chainsaw cost about $65. It has a plastic sprocket and plastic chain tensioning housing. The oiling device tends to put too much oil on the chain, thus wasting bar and chain lube/oil. It will even drain oil when the saw is not in use. No kickback safety. The power is pretty good, but when those extension cords add up, the power is reduced. Emily feels she spends too much time troubleshooting the Remington.

The Makita electric chainsaw costs about $250. It has a metal sprocket, but plastic housing. The plastic chain tensioner needs frequent adjustment. Emily mentions that it has an awkward feel. A bit of a surprise is that Emily thinks the Makita is less powerful than the Remington.

The Makita cordless chainsaw costs about $370. One great feature is that the 18 volt battery packs work for all sorts of makita tools. And the battery packs are quick to charge. Unfortunately, the charge does not last a long time. Not much power. Weird weight distribution that ends up making your wrist tired.

The greenworks cordless electric chainsaw uses a 40 volt battery pack and costs about $220. The weight is well balanced. The battery takes about an hour to charge and you can get about 40 minutes of use per charge. It has a reasonable amount of power. It does poorly with binding or tension. Sometimes the bar and chain oiler does not oil enough.

The Oregon cordless electric chainsaw was a gift to us. It came to us brans spanking new from ebay. The Oregon saw is well made. Lots of metal components instead of plastic. The bar and chain oiler works well. Good weight balance. The 40 volt battery takes a couple of hours to charge - a bit long. Running time is about 20 minutes per charge. This chainsaw has a self sharpening chain, which is really cool in a lot of ways, but, it turns out, REALLY expensive! The chain is very different from regular chain - and the saw has a sharpening stone built in. It takes only a couple of seconds to sharpen the chain and requires no skill whatsoever. Seems to made of better components and will probably last longer than any of the other electric chainsaws.

Emily makes a comparison between all of the saws on how long it would take to drop a 12 inch tree.
freaky big stihl chainsaw: under a minute
stihl 170: 2 minutes
remington: 4 or 5 minutes
makita corded: 8 minutes
makita cordless: more than 10 minutes
greenworks cordless: 3 or 4 minutes
oregon cordless: 3 or 4 minutes
crosscut saw: 7 minutes with two people, including peeling the bark from the tree
ax: 12 to 15 minutes

We finish the video with a quick demonstration of dropping a tree with the Oregon cordless chainsaw. You get a pretty good idea of how quiet it is.

Video editing by Raleigh Latham http://elementalecosystems.com/index.html - thanks Raleigh!

Trailing music is by Jimmy Pardo http://permies.com/t/30796/Jimmy-Pardo-music

 
gardener
Posts: 7722
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I have used both Stihl and Husqvarna saws professionally. I've had much fewer problems than most for a few simple reasons. I never use dirty gas or the wrong gas and I never, ever, ever bugger with the carb settings. I prefer to work a smaller saw hard. They use less gas per volume of work, smaller bars are easier to keep out of the dirt and chains cost $20.

Until recently, my Stihl 170 was used the most. Now, I'm using the 56 volt E-go for just about everything.
http://www.permies.com/t/40208/gear/Cordless-chainsaw-bought-powerful-Works
Most jobs are in town and within reach of a 100 ft cord. My electric pole saw is used on giant hedges and I use it from the roof of customer's houses to drop branches. I haven't started the Stihl or my larger Husqvarna in two months.

My hedge cutter and blower also use the same 56 volt lithium ion batteries. With three batteries that charge in 33 minutes, I spend less time messing with batteries than I would with gas.

The chainsaw is slower than most gas machines, but much more productive when I'm on a ladder or inside a hedge.

The hedge cutter and blower are superior in production per hour to many gas machines.
-------------------------
Some of the machines in the review are inferior quality toys. The Stihl cordless is high quality but very expensive and lacking power. I use Stihl and Husqvarna gas machines as the benchmark for comparison, when looking at new products.

The hedge cutter. The big one is about 4 posts down.
http://www.permies.com/t/37947/gear/Cordless-hedge-trimmer

The blower. http://www.permies.com/t/41680/gear/Cordless-blower-bought-powerful-Works

The pole saw. http://www.permies.com/t/41411/gear/Electric-Pole-review

I turned the hedge cutter into a sickle bar mower for road maintenance and small scale hay production. http://www.permies.com/t/41610/gear/Cordless-Hedge-Cutter-Sickle-Bar

All of the work on my trails is done with cordless electric equipment. I've cleared about 20 000 sq ft. http://www.permies.com/t/38429/projects/Dale-series-farm-improvement-projects
 
Posts: 9
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My questions:
For people who realistically only have access to "dirty" power grid electricity, does using an electric saw really have greater net benefits over gas?
And what do you do if the electrical "engine" fails? Are these saws rebuildable in any sense?
How much energy is tied up in the production of those batteries, and how long are they expected to last?

I am asking these as honest questions in case anyone knows the answer, not as rhetorical questions to imply that I already know that gas is better or whatever.

I would love to try an electric saw when the technology advances a lot further. On the other hand I envision getting halfway through a day, having to drive somewhere to charge batteries, and in doing so burning many times the fuel that my chainsaws require for a days work. Obviously there are variables as far as where the technology will go, and I could form new habits that might avoid these problems, but the margin of benefit seems slim at best.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3738
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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G Duke wrote:On the other hand I envision getting halfway through a day, having to drive somewhere to charge batteries...



You wouldn't do that. You would have a backup battery with you and/or the ability to charge the battery from your car. I don't think you'll want to use an electric chainsaw for more than a few hours anyway, but I could be wrong.
 
Andrew Ray
Posts: 165
Location: Slovakia
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G Duke wrote:My questions:
For people who realistically only have access to "dirty" power grid electricity, does using an electric saw really have greater net benefits over gas?
And what do you do if the electrical "engine" fails? Are these saws rebuildable in any sense?
How much energy is tied up in the production of those batteries, and how long are they expected to last?



I read that the batteries for my Husqvarna 536 Li XP should last for at least 800 charge cycles. I put a sticker on each of the 3Ah batteries last year and started ticking off each time they were charged, but I quickly lost track. I am not a day-to-day user, but I would guess each one has been discharged and charged somewhere between 50-100 times now, and like most lithium batteries, there is no noticeable loss of capacity-- they aren't like the NiCd batteries that were used a decade or two ago in cordless drills and such.

I did some calculations when I bought my saw. Unfortunately, I did not write them down, but what I found was that given the then current prices of gas and electricity in Slovakia, the amount of electricity needed to charge, the amount of gas an equivalently sized gas chainsaw would use for the same actual use, etc. that if the batteries do indeed last 800 charge cycles, including the price of the battery and electricity to charge it, the cost would be half what gasoline would cost (and I did not factor in the additional cost of 2-cycle oil). The economics may work out differently in the US, where both gasoline and electricity are much cheaper.

From a pollution perspective, I believe the battery saws win. A 2 cycle gas chainsaw engine is not a very clean, pollution free power source, nor does it make very efficient use of the energy contained in the gasoline. A gas turbine or steam turbine generator at even a coal burning power plant is far more efficient at converting the heat energy from the burning coal to electricity. (The figure I could find is that an automobile engine has a thermal efficiency of 25% whereas a combined cycle generating plant has, in the real world, 54% thermal efficiency.) And remember that to refine crude oil into gasoline requires energy as well.

The motor on a battery saw is only running when you are pulling the trigger, unlike a gas saw which is idling between cuts. Most importantly to me-- I'm not breathing in uncatalyzed gasoline exhaust.

The manual for my saw suggests that the sprocket for the chain is user replaceable. Otherwise, it says to take the saw to service for any other problems. So, replacement parts don't seem to be available for mine for DIY service. It uses a brushless DC motor. Given the prices that I see on international trading sites for 36V BLDC motors, I would guess that if they saw has to be serviced, the motor is simply replaced with a new one. A BLDC motor should have one moving part-- a rotor supported by two bearings. The possible locations of failure would be either in the bearings or in the magnet wire windings. Since the windings are controlled by an intelligent controller circuit, my guess is that eventually the bearings will fail. Looking online though, I see that there are companies selling bearings for BLDC motors, so its quite possible that the bearings could be DIY-replaced. I would have to open my saw up to see the exact motor though, and as it has a two year warranty here, I am reluctant to poke around until next year when the warranty is over. The saw body is held together by regular allen-key type screws, so it looks like it is designed to be taken apart and serviced.

Husqvarna now sells two back-pack battery packs-- one with 14Ah capacity and the other with 26Ah capacity. Certainly the latter should last all day and probably the former as well, though the price I see online is $1100 and $2000 respectively (price for Great Britian, probably a bit less in the US as taxes are less). The back-packs weigh 7 and 8kg (15, 18lbs). The advantage of the backpack is that at the end of the day it is just one battery to be charged (taking 2 and 4 hours respectively to charge), instead of having to swap a bunch of individual battery packs that each take about 30 minutes to charge. The disadvantage is added weight an having a power cord connected to the saw.

As far as energy used to produce the batteries: http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/B/855.PDF (this is for huge batteries for electric cars, but should give some idea.)


The main concern though is-- what are you cutting? My chainsaw has just a 14" bar (according to specs 13" "effective cut"). As long as the chain is sharp, it cuts faster than a comparable size gas saw. But a 14" bar is a 14" bar, and if the trees you are going to be cutting are ever over 26" diameter, then its not going to be possible to use such a saw! And even then, although its possible to cut in the 13"-26" range, I don't think that's very effective.

Bottom line:
for me the saw works great-- its always ready, I don't have to fool with mixing gas and oil for it, and don't have to worry if its sitting for a month without use that the gas-oil mix will go bad. My off-road transport is a walk-behind tractor with a small trailer. If I want, I can fill that trailer with wood using two batteries for the saw. And more often I am just clearing a bit of brush to put portable electric fencing, and its very handy for that. I count as well that over several years of use the batteries will save money compared to gas, as well as reduced need to service the saw compared to a gas motor saw.
 
Posts: 22
Location: Kentucky, USA
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There's s guy with an solar charged electric golf cart that he uses to run an electric chainsaw. He also has a solar electric tractor. See Chapter 5 at:
http://www.solarcarandtractor.com/solarcarandtractor/index.html
 
pollinator
Posts: 525
Location: Michigan
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Robert Fairchild wrote:There's s guy with an solar charged electric golf cart that he uses to run an electric chainsaw. He also has a solar electric tractor. See Chapter 5 at:
http://www.solarcarandtractor.com/solarcarandtractor/index.html



Nice link Robert, thanks.
 
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