How to Determine the Right Chainsaw Engine Size for Your Needs

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How to Determine the Right Chainsaw Engine Size for Your Needs

For some, the mere mention of a chainsaw might conjure up images of doughty lumberjacks, trekking through the Canadian wilderness, dropping trees and surviving bear attacks. These same people may be surprised to find out that chainsaws are a very common household tool, and while they can be used for harvesting lumber, they are often employed for basic landscaping work as well. Chainsaws are made by several major manufacturers, but most chainsaws have the same basic construction. Most chainsaws have different blade sizes and different engine sizes that are designed for various types of labour.

Chainsaws with varying engine sizes can be found in hardware stores, as well as online via eBay, which makes buying one a possibility for anyone. Determining the right chainsaw engine size for the job is easy as long as you have a clear understanding of what tasks you want to perform, as well as what you can physically handle.  The differences between electric and petrol chainsaws, as well as what each engine size is capable of accomplishing, are also amongst the list of factors to note prior to selecting the right chainsaw engine.

Decide What Your Are Going To Do With Your Chainsaw

The first step in determining if it is worthwhile to purchase a heavy duty chainsaw, is to decide if the labour it will be used for, makes having one essential. For example, if you are going to be cutting down medium to large sized trees regularly, then you will clearly want the toughest chainsaw available. If, however, you are going to be using a chainsaw to saw the occasional offending branch from time to time, a lighter chainsaw may be a better choice.

Assessing Each Project

The trick is to take a hard look at every project that you can foresee involving a chainsaw. If the work will involve a moderate amount of work with some variables, a moderately sized engine should do the job nicely. If the job is just routine light maintenance with no variables, a small engine will prove satisfactory and require less in terms of upkeep.

Determine What Kind of Chainsaw You Can Physically Handle

A larger chainsaw engine means that it will be heavier, and therefore more difficult to manipulate. The more difficult a chainsaw is to manipulate, the higher the risk of property damage and worst of all physical injury. This risk is increased even more as the blade length increases. Using a even a lighter chainsaw,  can require a certain amount of upper body strength. Even after a short period of time, the chainsaw can become heavier and therefore more unwieldy. Likewise, the vibrations produced by a chainsaw can make it difficult to maintain a grip on it for an extended period of time. Losing control of a chainsaw is as bad as dropping it, in terms of causing potential injury and damage. As with any piece of powerful equipment, proper safety gear is highly recommended.

Types of Chainsaws

There are two main types of chainsaws: petrol and electric. Each type of chainsaw offers up distinct benefits, along with their own individual disadvantages. Anyone trying to decide what size engine might work best for them, should first determine if they need a petrol or an electric chainsaw.

Petrol Chainsaws

Chainsaws that run on petrol are very popular and are capable of performing heavy duty tasks. A petrol chainsaw is, however, heavier and more expensive than an electric one. Chainsaws that run on petrol offer more variety in terms of engine size and power capability. One major advantage that a petrol chainsaw offers over an electric one, is that a petrol chainsaw is not limited by a power cord or battery life.

Pros and Cons of a Petrol Chainsaw

As long as there is sufficient petrol, a petrol chainsaw can be used anywhere at any time. Professionals who consistently use a chainsaw during their daily activities, prefer a petrol chainsaw for often than not. Even though petrol chain saws are more expensive, the portability and power that they provide is well  worth it. Many petrol chainsaws are also equipped with high-tech  safety features, such as a brake on the chain that can prevent serious injury. One thing to keep in mind is that petrol chain saws can create a lot of noise, disturbing neighbours or family members. Maintenance and upkeep is also higher amongst petrol chainsaws.

Electric Chainsaws

An electric chainsaw may lack the raw power offered by one that runs on petrol. Electric chainsaws are, however, far less expensive than petrol chainsaws and most times weigh less. Although they lack the ability to tackle extreme cutting tasks, they are ideal for small household projects. An electric chainsaw is better suited for smaller individuals, or those who lack a lot of upper-body strength. Electric chainsaws usually use a cord that can be plugged into an outlet or an extension cord, giving them a fairly limited range. There are, however battery-powered electric chainsaws that are far more portable, although battery life may be somewhat limited depending on the wood. With new advances in battery technology and aerodynamics, electric chainsaws may become a more versatile option.

Advantages of Electric Chainsaws

An electric chainsaw will be far quieter as opposed to one that runs on petrol, again making them ideal for household tasks. The main disadvantage of an electric chainsaw is that it simply lacks the power to do much more than lopping off tree branches. There are no options in terms of engine size for an electric chainsaw, meaning that all brands of electric chainsaws primarily produce the same amount of power.

Pole Chainsaws

A pole chainsaw is a style of chainsaw that has the blade on an extended neck. The main use of a pole chainsaw is to cut tree limbs that are too high for a conventional chainsaw, or those that would be too dangerous to cut using a ladder. The maximum length that the blade can be extended is 12 feet, although some brands may not even extend this far. It should be noted that the blade is typically smaller on a pole chainsaw in comparison to one on a regular chainsaw. Pole chainsaws can be found in both petrol-powered and electric varieties.

Chainsaw Engine Size

Once it has been determined whether or not a petrol chainsaw, or an electric one, is the best fit for your needs, the next step is to evaluate the difference in sizes that are available for engines. Engine size is measured in terms of engine displacement, a measurement usually given in cubic centimetres (cc). Engine displacement refers to the volume of air that is displaced by an engine’s cylinders, which directly correlates with how much power is ultimately produced. Therefore an engine with a larger displacement will be more powerful. This is helpful in evaluating different chainsaws and making the correct decision.

Light Duty Chainsaws

A light duty chainsaw is one that measures roughly 30-35 cc, in terms of displacement. A petrol chainsaw of this size will be better suited for delimbing trees and cutting down saplings. Some medium-sized trees can be cut down quite easily however bigger jobs call for a bigger chainsaw. Cutting through firewood, trees with a large diametre, or just trees made of harder wood, may be beyond the capabilities of a light duty chainsaw. It should be noted that even a light duty petrol chainsaw is more powerful than an electric chainsaw.

Medium Duty Chainsaws

A chainsaw with a displacement measuring 35-42 cc, is considered medium duty. A chainsaw of this size is highly versatile, but again, larger trees, firewood, and dense woods may be a bit much to handle. At the same time, using it for trimming branches and light yard maintenance may be overkill in terms of power and performance.

Heavy Duty Chainsaws

A heavy duty chainsaw will have a displacement volume of anywhere from 42-50 cc. Anything higher is considered professional grade, as is the kind most likely to be used by Canadian lumberjacks or other professionals. A heavy duty chainsaw can handle pretty much any task that is thrown its way, including large trees and stubborn, difficult knots in thicker cuts of wood. A heavy duty chainsaw can usually be used for a longer period of time, which makes it ideal for serious projects containing many variables in terms of cutting or shaping wood.

Buying a Chainsaw on eBay

Chainsaws, along with chainsaw engines, are readily available on eBay. The items found on eBay may be brand new, or they may be used. This will provide you with a wide variety of options and choices when it comes to finding exactly the right chainsaw for your needs. Most chainsaws will be listed will be accompanied by a mention of engine size or an engine displacement volume. This fact tells people whether the chainsaw is a light, medium, or heavy duty machine.

The best way to get started with a search for a chainsaw on eBay is to simply enter a search term, such as "chainsaw", into the search bar on the eBay home page. This will provide a look at every option available, but for those who know specifically what they want, amending the search term with keywords that specify engine size or style, will make the search much faster. Once the perfect chainsaw for your needs has been discovered, making the purchase and arranging shipping, should be a simple and straightforward affair.


A chainsaw is more than a just a tool used to cut down trees. While that is the primary function of a chainsaw, they can be used for cleaning and maintaining a garden, or even for cleaning up debris after a storm has passed through an area. Those who wish to buy a chainsaw should evaluate their needs and decide how taxing the work will be prior to purchasing one. This will help establish guidelines that are invaluable in terms of determining what size chainsaw will prove to be the best results.

Chainsaws come in two main varieties: petrol and electric. Electric chainsaws do not have different engine sizes and are better suited to light work, but they are quieter and less messy than a petrol chainsaw. Petrol chainsaws are more powerful and thus noisier, but they do offer different engine sizes that fall into three main categories: light, medium, and heavy duty. With the right size chainsaw engine, coupled with the proper safety precautions, anyone can make short work of any daunting yard maintenance.

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