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GreenWorks Cordless Chainsaw + Timberline chain sharpener  RSS feed

 
Robbie Asay
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*I am not paid for any products I review*

This is my review of the GreenWorks 40 volt, 4 amp hour, 16" cordless chainsaw that I've owned for just over a year now(see my review of the chain sharpener I use below). I've cut about 3 cords of wood with it at up to 14" diameter and like it very much. Disclaimer: I'm disabled so it takes me at least twice as long to do pretty much anything so your mileage may very regarding time of use on batteries, charge times, etc.

I chose this chainsaw based on several important points that reviewers on other sites brought up more than a few times:

Their wives, girlfriends, people who can't grip tools for long periods of time were able to use it with little issue.
Once the batteries were in it had a good balance to it.
Despite it being battery powered and once you let off the power trigger the chain stopped moving it still comes with a chain brake.
The battery lasted about 50 cuts or about 45 minutes of usable time.
The batteries for this model fit a variety of tools including a weed trimmer and lawnmower.

The last review that sold me on it came from a local forester that uses them on the job for limbing. At first I thought yeah no biggie but he politely informed me that quite a few trees had limbs wider than the 16" bar length....sold! He said that as battery powered tools get better they are using them more to reduce workers exposure to the fumes from gas powered chainsaws as well as the safety aspect of them when climbing trees; you don't have to start them from 50 feet up and leave them running while working.

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So, on with my review. The good:

I did find that the balance of it once a battery was in was very good. It wasn't unwieldy or awkward, it felt just right for me at 4' 11" with a short wingspan.
The grip was comfortable and the power trigger and safety switch were close enough together that I didn't feel like I was trying to play guitar to use it.
I absolutely LOVE that as soon as I let off the trigger the chain stops moving and no more power is going to it until I push in the safety and pull the trigger again.
I was surprised with how powerful it is for a battery powered tool and pleased as well. It cut through fresh alder, fir and maple like buttah with a properly sharpened chain.
The reviews regarding about 50 cuts and/or about 45 minutes of cut time are accurate. I planned ahead and bought an extra battery and so far it's charged fast enough I haven't seen down time yet except when I peter out.
Battery charge indicator is accurate and easy to read.
Easy access to chain drive gear for removing and installing chain.
Easy to use chain tightener.
Easy to use.
Did not come with an automatic chain sharpener(yes, this is a plus).

The annoying:

The fill tank for the bar oil isn't very see through and I ended up overfilling it twice. I learned where the proper level was by watching from the filler hole while filling very slowly and stopping once in awhile to make sure of how close I was getting.
The plate covering the chain tightener and gear is a pain to deal with when putting back on. You have to balance the bar with the chain on it making sure the bar stays on the small tab while screwing the cover back down hopefully in the right spot. If you are tired it becomes harder than it really is.
As with all "easy cut" and "fuel saver" type chainsaws these use "micro-light" style of chains which means they are thinner for easier cutting which also makes them less durable and need to be sharpened more often.
The chain brake looks like it's in the right place even when pushed forward so one time I thought the saw had broken when it wouldn't start running. I found out when I accidentally knocked it back to the "on" position.
It's still battery powered meaning it can't touch the power of a gas chainsaw. However, a lot of foresters and landscapers accept this and use them out of sheer convenience.

The bad:

It leaks bar oil when not in use. I discovered this the hard way so luckily I had set it on something that wasn't damaged(the grill lid) but it stunk like crazy until the oil cooked off the lid.
The upper section of the oil reservoir cap closest to the top of the chainsaw is so close that junk and oil can build up in that thin groove making cleaning it out next to impossible before unscrewing the cap. You can easily knock debris into the tank with no easy way to fish it out.
These are expensive tools that will not last as long as gas unless you can fix electronics and the drive mechanism.
The batteries are outrageously expensive! I have 4 batteries right now which is $500 just in batteries.

None of the annoying and bad things are deal breakers as I spend far more time actually using the chainsaw than dealing with the issues but when I'm fatigued I can get pretty frustrated. However, the really very "bad" will come when GW decides not to offer this battery anymore and when that happens my tools will immediately become obsolete. That's not very environmentally friendly in the long run except that pretty much all of it can be recycled if taken to the proper facility.

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Sharpening chains can be a painful experience for me as I have carpal tunnel and arthritis so my go to sharpener in the field and at home is the Timberline chain sharpener. This is NOT a cheap piece of equipment at all and a good set of files will do you just fine for the most part. However, I'm not able to draw file sharpeners across the teeth while maintaining the proper angle and screwed up a couple of chains trying to learn how to do it properly. Using this style of sharpener takes longer as it clamps to the bar but I get the perfect precise angle for sharpening each time and the pressure on the nerves in my wrist is minimal because it uses a crank handle and I can wear my wrist braces while sharpening. It comes with a handy sectioned pouch but you must know the proper cut of your chain so you can order the correct size carbide cutters for your chain.

This is one of those "damned if I do, damned if I don't" purchases for a person on a fixed income with hand/arm issues. Since the chains cost me about $15-$20 each it would take ruining about 6 chains to equal the price of the sharpener but now I can sharpen that chain many times before I have to replace it as well as other chains. I can pretty much only justify spending this much because of how much pain I'm avoiding and for that it's been a thumbs up for me.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Good info, thanks for posting!

However, the really very "bad" will come when GW decides not to offer this battery anymore and when that happens my tools will immediately become obsolete. That's not very environmentally friendly in the long run except that pretty much all of it can be recycled if taken to the proper facility.


IMO this is not the end of the line; I would be extremely surprised to find anything too exotic in the way of cells inside these units. Depending on how loose they're being with the numbers, an 80V 2.0AH battery could be as few as 19x 18650 cells @ 4.2V(what they might hit at absolute peak voltage right off the charger), or 22 of them @ around 3.6V. An 18V lithium ion battery for cordless tools (Makita, Milwaukee... even Dewalt's so-called 20V stuff) is simply 5 of these batteries in series... and you can readily buy the individual cells online. I don't expect that to change any time soon, barring a breakthrough in some different battery chemistry; they're been a standard for quite a while now.

If you're a bit savvy and willing to play with batteries that occasionally explode like small grenades full of toxic badness, you may be able to replace these cells and re-assemble the battery casing with fresh good cells. If you shell out for the really good ones, you could have more like a 3.0AH battery the same size/weight.

The 4.0AH battery option looks to be twice the size, so it's just twice as many batteries in a series/parallel setup.

Being willing to play inside the battery pack also opens up the possibility of curing 'dead' packs by individually charging problem cells to get the whole thing accepting charge again, or replacing individual cells... but this is not so fine an idea as the more variation between cells in a bank the higher the chance of Bad Things. Here be dragons, proceed at your own risk, etc etc...


This all renders the other electronics and the motor the potential weak links IMO. Not as likely as a quality gas saw to be something that can last several decades... but there are certainly compelling upsides.
 
Robbie Asay
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I understand what you're saying but that's not practical for most people. Someone such as myself does not have the analytical mind to understand electronic theory. Not understanding that is a safety issue so no, I would not be willing to get into something that not only can explode on it's own but by my own ignorance can cause me severe injury and blindness.

I would also caution anyone that doesn't understand basic electronic theory to not experiment within the innards of a lithium ion case, ever. Not unless you are willing to accept the potential consequences of your mistakes. CYA and do your homework.


I forgot to mention the micro-lite chains are also called anti-kickback chains. By making them slimmer there is less of a chance of them getting stuck if you are cutting properly.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Absolutely, don't play inside li-ion packs if you don't have the requisite basic electronic knowledge and understanding of risks! Hence my mention of the exploding and the toxic badness.

Just because it's not for you, though, doesn't mean it's not something you could pay to have done, to preserve an investment in tools if the batteries become unavailable. I happened on this ad locally, this guy could certainly refurbish a pack as easily as building one from scratch. http://www.usedvictoria.com/classified-ad/BATTERIES-Custom-Built-Electric-Bike-Liion-Batteries_27465624

For that matter, I've seen off-brand/3rd party refurbished batteries for sale on ebay for popular tool brands; wouldn't be my first choice, but if it was that or binning the tool...
 
Gene Green
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Robby,

Thank you for your detailed and insightful as well as personal review of Greenworks 40v chainsaw.

I am especially glad to know about the Timberline sharpener which is going to make a huge difference in my ability to keep chains sharp in the small amount of time I have available.  With all the reading I have been doing lately I never even heard this product mentioned, let alone that sharpeners existed at all.  I guess I have just been reading 'old school'.  But I am all about saving time but still doing the job correctly, so am very glad to know that there the Timberline is so well received.

What other Greenworks tools do you have and do you find any worth recommending? 

How have you found the battery capacity thus far?  Do you notice it diminishing?  I assume you are aware of the 2 year battery guarantee.  I am a little surprised that you have so many batteries in use because I would think that you could get by with fewer of them since they are interchangeable. 

Do you have any opinion of how the power compares with a gas engine?  I have read that the 80v model compares to a 32cc gas engine.  Does that mean the 40v would be even lower?

Obviously I don't have my own Greenworks 40v saw yet but it is the main one I am trying to convince myself to buy!
 
Robbie Asay
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Dillon Nichols wrote:For that matter, I've seen off-brand/3rd party refurbished batteries for sale on ebay for popular tool brands; wouldn't be my first choice, but if it was that or binning the tool...


As we've learned in the last year or so from the knock-off batteries in hoverboards a lithium ion battery is nothing to guess about.  Unfortunately we are forced to be in that position because there really isn't any kind of "standard" for them and as far as I know they are all made in China so regulating them is done through not buying them rather than imposing strict standardized manufacturing procedures.  /shrug

Gene Green wrote:What other Greenworks tools do you have and do you find any worth recommending?


I'm also using the weed trimmer that allows attachments and like it very much but that review is for another thread

Gene Green wrote:How have you found the battery capacity thus far?  Do you notice it diminishing?  I assume you are aware of the 2 year battery guarantee.  I am a little surprised that you have so many batteries in use because I would think that you could get by with fewer of them since they are interchangeable.


Battery capacity is okay and I get about 45 minutes to an hour of non-constant use depending on what I'm doing and the type of plant matter I'm cutting.  The only time I've used a battery until it had no charge left was almost an hour and a half of almost constant weed whacking tall grass.  They claim lithiums don't diminish but it doesn't stay "strong" as in like fresh off the charger strong.  I've used them enough now that I can tell when charge is waning and I just swap them out.  When they are out of juice they definitely just stop and that's it.  Don't be surprised by someone having that many batteries.  They are expensive and as I mentioned above when GW decides to move on or to change battery models all the tools using those batteries will become obsolete and they've done that before.  Advancing technology will always trump us hanging on to electronics.  Also the tools last longer than the batteries do as batteries are assumed to have about a 5 year life with decent care.  When I purchased the saw I also purchased an extra battery.  When I purchased the trimmer I bought the complete kit so I'd have an extra charger and a third battery but that charger wasn't working properly.  Instead of swapping chargers(I sent back the defective one) they sent me an entire kit so now I have 2 trimmers, 1 saw and 4 batteries.

Gene Green wrote:Do you have any opinion of how the power compares with a gas engine?  I have read that the 80v model compares to a 32cc gas engine.  Does that mean the 40v would be even lower?


Yes it will be lower but make no mistake, gas definitely does better on power, ease of repair and initial cost.  Given the choice I'd prefer a gas tool with an electronic start and no emissions but that is not to be.  Since I'm not always able to pull start the gas motors and I really prefer not to breathe in the exhaust I chose battery power.  In the long run the cost will even out but the power never will until battery technology catches up.  Oh and battery operated tools are definitely friendlier on your ears!

Gene Green wrote:Obviously I don't have my own Greenworks 40v saw yet but it is the main one I am trying to convince myself to buy!


Don't make the mistake of comparing battery to gas as you'll end up disappointed.  It's similar to comparing meat to a meat substitute made from soy or something, BLEH!!!  If you look at it as a less powerful but convenient and easy to use alternative you will never go wrong unless you get a lemon.

After noticing your link in your signature I see you already have a review up about this chainsaw but it is attached to an affiliate site.  Please do not use the information I have provided to pad the review on your site unless Permies is being compensated in some way or you have some kind of agreement with them.  As someone who also runs a forum I run into information theft all the time and please correct me if I'm wrong but it appears fishy to have a review up on another site while stating here you are looking at buying one.  
 
Milo Jones
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Robbie Asay wrote:After noticing your link in your signature I see you already have a review up about this chainsaw but it is attached to an affiliate site.  Please do not use the information I have provided to pad the review on your site unless Permies is being compensated in some way or you have some kind of agreement with them.  As someone who also runs a forum I run into information theft all the time and please correct me if I'm wrong but it appears fishy to have a review up on another site while stating here you are looking at buying one.  


The signature links to a personal web page, not directly to an affiliate link. I think that is allowed here.  I don't think Paul is opposed to other people making money on the internet.
 
Robbie Asay
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Milo Jones wrote:The signature links to a personal web page, not directly to an affiliate link. I think that is allowed here.  I don't think Paul is opposed to other people making money on the internet.


Look at that website again because down at the bottom it does indeed identify as being a member of an affiliate program and not a personal site.  If you read the "About Us" page it identifies as a commercial site and not a personal site.  My comment had nothing to do with someone making money off the internet and everything to do with content THEFT, and as it is I had already notified management directly about this and they had no issue with what I had posted.  If you must comment in someone's thread in a similar manner please do so more accurately through private message rather than derailing the topic unless you are going to also add topical content.  Thanks!

Now, back on topic...

I'll be firing up the chainsaw soon.  I'm a little late this year but since I'm preparing to move and trying to save the money to do so I've been distracted with those preparations.  I have a bunch of alder and maple that's been sitting since last summer so I'm really looking forward to getting it split and stacked...if this rain will ever stop...
 
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