Chainsaws are powerful tools that can help make cutting and trimming trees and lumber an easier job. While gas-powered chainsaws require a fuel and oil mixture, many wonder if electric chainsaws also need bar and chain oil for lubrication. In this guide, I’ll provide a detailed look at the importance of oil for electric chainsaws, proper oiling techniques, recommended oil types, troubleshooting issues, maintenance tips, and other frequently asked questions.
Does Electric Chainsaw Need Oil?
Yes, even though electric chainsaws do not require gasoline, they still need bar and chain oil. The oil is not used as a fuel component but rather for lubrication and protection of the guide bar and saw chain. Without proper lubrication, the chain would quickly overheat from friction, damaging the cutting elements. The oil forms a protective film to keep the chain, bar, and drive sprocket cool and running smoothly.
Gas-powered chainsaws mix oil into the gas for lubrication. Electric models have a separate oil tank or reservoir that needs to be filled with bar and chain oil. So while the power source differs, all chainsaws need oil to function properly and safely.
How do you oil an electric chainsaw?
Oiling an electric chainsaw is a simple process but does require some preparation and care to avoid messes. Here are the basic steps:
First, lay down some cardboard, rags, or a tarp in your workspace. This will catch any spilled oil that may drip. Have some paper towels or a rag handy too. Wear gloves for protection.
Locate the oil tank cap and unscrew it. Sometimes this cap can be tricky to find depending on the chainsaw model. Consult the user manual if needed.
Once the cap is off, fill the reservoir using a plastic funnel. Bar and chain oil has a medium viscosity similar to vegetable oil. Take care not to overfill the tank. About 3-4 oz is typical for many electric models.
Replace the oil cap tightly when finished. Double check that it’s on securely before operating the saw. Nothing would be more troublesome than an oil leak during cutting!
Now run the chainsaw for 30 seconds, holding the tip over your workspace. This allows oil to fully distribute before making cuts. Your electric chainsaw is now properly lubricated and ready for action!
How often do you need to fill up the oil reservoir of electric chainsaws?
The frequency of refilling your electric chainsaw with chain oil depends on how often you use it. For light hobby or home use, you may only need to add more every month or two. Professionals using saws daily will refill more often, such as every week.
The best practice is to monitor your oil usage and refill the reservoir before it runs dry. Check that oil is reaching the chain each time before starting a new project. Top off as needed to maintain proper lubrication. Running a chainsaw without oil risks severe damage and safety hazards.
Some models have a window so you can quickly view the oil level. On others, you may need to unscrew the cap and visually inspect. When doubtful, add a few more ounces of oil to be safe.
Types of Oil for Electric Chainsaws
Electric and gas-powered chainsaws use the same type of bar and chain oils. These oils are specially formulated for chainsaw lubrication. The oil clings well to metal and has a thickness that ensures it reaches the tight spaces between the bar, chain, and sprocket.
Never use automobile engine oil in a chainsaw. Engine oils lack the adhesive properties needed for chains and contain additives that can quickly gum up the bar. Similarly, avoid hydraulic oils, mineral oils, or other substitutes not specifically made for chainsaws.
While vegetative oils like canola or olive oil may work in a pinch, they are not ideal. These oils break down more quickly from heat and can stain wood. Stick with quality bar and chain oils for the best performance and easiest maintenance.
Best Oil for Electric Chainsaws
Most professionals recommend using the bar and chain oil produced by your chainsaw brand. For example, Husqvarna’s yellow-capped oil is optimized for Husqvarna saws. However, you can use oil from any reputable brand, such as Oregon or Stihl. Here are some top oils for electric chainsaws:
- Husqvarna Bar and Chain Oil – Formulated to protect against wear and residue buildup. Good adherence and low evaporation rate.
- Oregon Bar and Chain Oil – Excellent lubricating properties enhanced with tac additives. Prevents rust and stain issues.
- Stihl Bar and Chain Oil – Designed for high-temp conditions. Biodegradable formula with minimal odor.
No matter what oil you choose, look for verbiage like “adhesive”, “low-fling”, and “high-temperature”. These indicate qualities important for chainsaw bar and chain oils. And of course, make sure the oil is explicitly made for chainsaws, not engines or other uses.
Electric Chainsaw Advantages
While the basic mechanics are similar, electric chainsaws provide some key advantages over gas models:
Eco-Friendly – Electric saws don’t require gasoline so they don’t emit any fumes. This makes them better for indoor jobs or environmentally sensitive areas.
Lightweight – Cordless battery-powered models weigh much less than gas chainsaws, making them easier to maneuver.
Cheaper to Operate – Without gas, the only operating cost is electricity. Oil is inexpensive compared to fuel mixtures.
Quieter – Electric motors produce less noise than two-stroke gas engines. This is safer for the operator’s hearing.
Less Vibration – Electric chainsaw vibrations are noticeably lower, reducing fatigue over long jobs.
Easy to Start – Just flip a switch instead of yanking pull cords until the gas engine turns over.
Of course, corded electric saws do limit your range from an outlet. But improvements in battery life continue to make cordless models more viable for professional use. With the right bar length and power, electric chainsaws can handle most residential cutting tasks.
Signs Your Chainsaw Needs Oil
It’s critical to maintain proper lubrication when operating any chainsaw. Here are some signs that your electric or gas model lacks sufficient oil:
- Smoking Tip – Friction from an under-oiled chain heats the guide bar, causing it to smoke. This indicates a dry chain in need of oil.
- Extremely Hot Chainsaw – Similarly, inadequate lubrication will cause the chassis temperature to spike. It may be too hot to hold after cutting.
- Resistance or Vibration – A dry chain that’s heating up drags across the bar. This creates a noticeable resistance feeling along with increased vibration.
- Kickback – Chains with insufficient oil are more prone to kickback, which is when the bar jerks violently during a cut. This dangerous reaction can cause injuries.
Address any of these issues immediately by cleaning the oil system and filling the tank with fresh, high-quality bar and chain oil. Allow time for the oil to fully circulate before resuming use. Taking action at the first signs of inadequate lubrication prevents extensive wear and damage.
What Are the Benefits of Using an Electric Chainsaw vs. a Gas-Powered Chainsaw?
When it comes to choosing between an electric chainsaw and a gas-powered chainsaw, the electric chainsaws quality guide can help you make an informed decision. Electric chainsaws offer several benefits, such as being quieter, easier to start, and requiring less maintenance compared to their gas-powered counterparts. Additionally, electric chainsaws produce zero emissions, making them more environmentally friendly.
Do electric chainsaws require a specific oil-to-gas ratio?
No, electric chainsaws do not mix oil and gas so they do not require an oil-to-gas ratio. This ratio applies only to gas-powered chainsaws that must blend gasoline and 2-cycle oil to provide engine lubrication. The separate oil tank or reservoir used in electric models contains only bar and chain oil, not a fuel mixture.
Can I use the same oil for both electric and gas chainsaws?
Yes, you can use the same bar and chain oil for both types of chainsaws. The oil requirements are the same when it comes to lubricating the chain, bar, and drive sprocket. So don’t feel like you need separate oil containers for your electric versus gas saws. Many brands now offer universal bar and chain oils compatible with all chainsaw types.
How do I know if my chainsaw oiler is working properly?
It’s smart to periodically check that your chainsaw’s oiler system is delivering oil as it should. Look for oil dripping off the tip after each cut. The bar’s oil groove should show wetness. Oil usage should align with the operating time. If not, follow the troubleshooting steps outlined earlier for inspection, cleaning, and repairs. Proper oiler operation is crucial for performance and safety.
What are the environmental benefits of using an electric chainsaw?
Electric chainsaws are much more eco-friendly because they don’t directly emit any air or noise pollution. Gas-powered models burn fuel inefficiently, releasing carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and unburned hydrocarbons. These pollutants can be harmful to human and environmental health. Electric saws avoid these impacts while still delivering high cutting power.
How do I maintain my electric chainsaw?
- Regularly clean your saw’s exterior, oil tank, and bar groove using compressed air, a wire brush, and cleaning solvents approved by the manufacturer.
- Inspect the chain for damage or excessive stretching. Replace when worn or adjust tension as needed.
- Check that the oil tank cap, hoses, and delivery ports are clear of debris before each use.
- Refill the oil tank before it runs dry to maintain steady lubrication.
- Follow all maintenance actions in the user manual such as replacing filters and worn parts at recommended intervals.
Proper cleaning, inspection, adjustment, and lubrication will keep your electric chainsaw running safely and efficiently. Don’t neglect regular maintenance.
Can I use vegetable oil for my electric chainsaw?
Some users report success using canola or other vegetable oils as a substitute when bar and chain oil is unavailable. However, vegetable oils are not ideal forChainsaw chain lubrication. They have a shorter shelf life and break down faster under high temperatures. Vegetable oils also tend to stain wood more than standard petroleum-based oils. Only use vegetable oil as a temporary emergency fix, not for regular use.
What are the signs of low lubrication in a chainsaw?
Be on the lookout for these indicators that your chainsaw lacks sufficient lubrication:
- The tip smoking from friction heat
- The chainsaw being too hot to handle
- Chains binding or kickback during cuts
- An increase in vibration
- Resistance when cutting
- Excessive dust from wear of dry components
At the first signs of low lubrication, stop cutting. Check that oil is reaching the chain and refill the tank as needed before resuming use. Running any chainsaw with inadequate oil can quickly destroy internal parts.
While electric chainsaws operate differently than gas models, they still require oil for proper functioning. Bar and chain oils protect critical components from overheating and premature wear. Regularly inspecting, cleaning, and refilling the oil tank prevents many issues that can arise. And be sure to use only oil specifically formulated for chainsaws for optimal performance. Properly oiled electric chainsaws provide quiet, eco-friendly cutting power. But neglecting lubrication jeopardizes the safety and lifespan of these useful saws. Follow the tips in this guide to enhance your electric chainsaw experience.
Michael Boyle is the founder and main author of Chainsaws Finder, boasting over 20 years of experience in the chainsaw industry. Hailing from Texas, Michael combines his extensive knowledge and hands-on expertise to provide reliable advice and top-notch service. His vision is to empower chainsaw users to tackle any project with confidence, making Chainsaws Finder a trusted resource in the field.