A lot of people don’t even know the difference between a pole saw and a chainsaw. Okay, maybe they see the difference but they fail to realize the need to use one or the other under various circumstances. If you’re reading this article then you’re already narrowing down the best pole saws on the market, which means you have some specific use cases in mind.
I have picked, reviewed, and shared with you my favorite pole saws. I’ve also categorized them accordingly so that you can see the differences between designs, sizes, types of motors, etc. Take a look and see if you can find your next power tool.
- Electric Pole Saws
- Cordless Pole Saws
- Gas Pole Saws
- The Triad of Powered Pole Saws
- Safety Gear and Safety Features
- Features to Keep an Eye On
- What about Manual Pole Saws?
- Are You Ready to Cut Smart?
Electric Pole Saws
Weighing just 7 pounds, the SWJ800E is one of the easiest pole saws to use on long jobs. It’s made of aluminum and fiberglass to reduce weight and give it enough durability to handle hard work. It has a safety lock, great balance, and an automatic lubrication function. I find this essential in maintaining cutting efficiency.
Although this is a corded pole saw and lacks a bit of power, the 8” Oregon bar should still be enough to cut through thick branches. The 6.5A motor and the quality Oregon bar are enough for small to medium tasks around the house.
Another cool feature is the telescopic design. You can adjust the SWJ800E between 8.7 and 15 feet in length. This is a considerable boost in length compared to most corded pole saws which tend to top out at 12 feet overhead.
This saw is a popular pick. The quiet operation, the low maintenance design, and the automatic lubrication make it worth every penny. It can be a solid choice for a variety of projects as long as you can compensate for its main drawback.
The obvious and only drawback remains the limited range. The cord on the SWJ800E is quite short so it may not be suitable for anything but cutting branches around the house. Even then, I still think most people will need a long extension cord to get the most out of the saw.
The WG309 by Worx is another personal favorite of mine. It weighs around 10 pounds, which doesn’t exactly make it super lightweight, but the 8A motor gives it a boost of power which compensates for the extra weight. Given that the extension pole is 8 feet long, the balance of the saw is very good which makes it easy to use.
In terms of adjustability, the saw doesn’t let you tweak much as it is a rather standard design. There’s no complex assembly to worry about except it might not come with any oil in the tank. Be sure to check the oil before you decide to use it out of the box. Other than that, you don’t have to worry about the chain since the WG309 has an automatic lubricating function.
As far as durability goes, I have to be honest. I’ve held and operated much stronger pole saws. There doesn’t seem to be enough rigidity in this power tool to last you for many years. It may also break easily if you drop it one too many times. That being said, the ergonomic design and soft grip should help you prevent that from happening.
The 10” bar and the 8A motor seem to be enough for medium-sized branches. Add to that the fact that the WGA309 comes with a rotating handle and your pruning tasks should get done smoothly and in record time.
The PP610 may be affordable but it’s not a low-end power tool by any means. The 6.5A motor is quite standard. It has just enough power for the 10” bar and chain, all in all quite a versatile pruning tool.
The pole length tops out at 9.5 feet. The 7.9lbs weight makes the saw very easy to handle, especially when doing small to medium tasks around the house. The grip and the flexibility are further enhanced by the extra cutting speed of the 10” bar which reduces vibrations.
As with most corded saws in this price range, the PP610 also comes with an automatic oiling system. However, I haven’t noticed any oil in the tank. This means the PP610 is not ready to use out of the box.
Cordless Pole Saws
This was an interesting choice for me. On one hand, the saw comes with a rather powerful battery and a solid 8” bar and chain combo which allow you to blow through small branches in record time. The complete package features a G-Max 40V battery and a charger.
On the other hand, it’s not a cheap saw because of the high-end battery. But Greenworks sells the bare tool for much less. If you own other Greenworks G-Max cordless tools, the battery and charger are compatible with this pole saw.
The chain tension shouldn’t be too hard to adjust. The automatic oiling mechanism takes care of most of your maintenance tasks. And the aluminum shaft can be extended up to 8 feet overhead. Since it’s a 3-piece telescopic design, the portability rating is through the roof. Not only does it have unlimited range, it’s also very compact and easy to store.
It should come as no surprise that Black & Decker makes just about any type of power tool you can think of. I chose the LPP120 not so much because of its raw power but mostly because of its very impressive range.
When fully extended, this saw gives you a usable length of 10 feet. Now, the 8” bar and chain may not seem amazing but the extra reach and the fact that it’s cordless should help you when dealing with tight spaces. The battery life is not too shabby either. You should get up to 100 cuts with a fully charged battery if you’re cutting 6” diameter branches.
What’s even nicer about this power tool is that the 2-year warranty includes the battery and the charger. The battery is a 20V lithium-ion battery of pretty good quality. And the Energy Star-certified charger is also part of the deal.
Of course, if you already have a way to power it up, the LPP120 can also be bought for less without the battery and charger combo. One more thing worth mentioning, this one doesn’t come with an oil reservoir which means you have to pay attention to the chain and lubricate it yourself when the time is right.
The WG323 comes with a pretty standard 20V battery. It has a self-lubricating mechanism and pretty good torque for a battery-powered tool. There’s also an automatic tension system that keeps the chain ready to go at all times, which allows you to move from one job to another just like that.
The saw weighs around 10.4lbs. It’s not exactly lightweight but it’s not heavy or uncomfortable to use either. I especially like the addition of an overmold soft grip which reduces fatigue and improves cutting accuracy.
All that being said, I find the 2-in-1 combo design to be the most interesting and valuable feature here. If you remove the 10ft extension you can use the WF323 as a small 8” chainsaw. Granted, it’s not going to be the most powerful one, but it still makes the saw much more versatile than most in its price range.
Gas Pole Saws
If you want a serious pole saw, you’ll need gas. Consider the RM25PS Maverick as a trimming and pruning tool. I find this Remington gas pole saw to be one of the most reliable on the market for a number of reasons.
It has a good reach of up to 7 feet when fully extended. That and the 8” bar and chain combo should give you enough leeway. Sure, there are saws with better reach but very few that have the raw cutting power of this 25cc 2-cycle gas engine, so do keep that in mind if you want to cut the thickest branches.
A lot of gas saws struggle at startup. The Maverick with a quick-start Remington mechanism which makes every pull easier and more reliable has no problem there. The automatic oiling system keeps the chain working at maximum efficiency. However, this tool will still require a good amount of maintenance on your part – cleaning the gas tank, checking the engine, adjusting the chain tension, etc.
At the end of the day, even though this pole saw may be a little high-maintenance, it is versatile enough to balance things out. If you want a multi-purpose tool, know that the Maverick can be fitted with attachments that turn it into an edger, hedge trimmer, blower, and a lot more.
I was surprised to see that the PR25PS had a very low kickback. I would’ve expected a 25cc 2-cycle engine to give me so much raw power that it would make the pole saw harder to control. Luckily, apart from cutting power, the engine only adds a bit to the weight, but at the same time, it comes with an easy startup function.
Now, the PR25PS is not exactly a heavy-duty pole saw. The 8” bar and chain design and 2-cycle engine are powerful enough, but only for most medium to slightly thicker branches. This is not necessarily a downside since the saw is rather cheap for a gas-powered model.
Portability and unlimited range are key features here. The saw is just under 15lbs when topped with gas and oil and it can be broken down for transport. It features a 3-piece detachable shaft. The automatic oiling mechanism and the addition of the shoulder strap are two nice quality of life features that reduce strain and amount of prep work you need to worry about.
All things considered, the PR25PS is in a weird spot. It’s very consistent and easy to use but it makes too much noise and it’s too heavy just to use on small and medium tasks. While some users may not agree with this, I justify this choice by pointing out that its limitless range and long hours of operation trump any electric saw of equal cutting prowess.
A bit on the heavy side, this Maxtra pole saw is made for serious jobs and consistent use. It has a robust build and an engine that puts out an equivalent of 1100W in raw power. The engine also has air cooling, filters, and everything it needs to operate safely in tough conditions and for long hours.
I also enjoyed the inertia-driven chain break function which reduces kickback by a considerable amount. The maximum reach of 11.4 feet seemed pretty ok when paired with the 10” cutting bar.
Starting the engine didn’t seem difficult at all. Another interesting feature for some, not all, is the extra-large fuel tank. I’m sure others too will appreciate the ability to work for longer on one tank of gas. However, this also makes the pole saw a lot heavier than most similar models in its price range.
That being said, this is a heavy-duty pole saw that Maxtra designed with plenty of safety features and quality of life features. Is it the easiest to work with? – No. Is it ideal for cutting thick branches all day long? – I find it so.
The Triad of Powered Pole Saws
Battery-powered or cordless pole saws are low maintenance, good for small to medium sized jobs, and have unlimited range. They’re great to use at home but also on the road if you move from job site to job site. They are also heavy, likely more expensive, and not suitable for use in wet conditions.
Electric pole saws are also referred to as corded saws. They are the lightest that you’re going to find and the easiest to take care of. However, they are not very powerful and are limited by the length of the cord. And, just like battery-powered pole saws, they’re not suitable for use in wet conditions. I still like them, mostly because they are cheap and ideal for small jobs.
Gas-powered pole saws are the mammoths of these power tools. They are big, solid, and have enough power to cut through the thick pieces of wood. They also respond better than electric models for everyday use. But there are some downsides too. Gas-powered pole saws are very heavy, more expensive, require daily maintenance, and make plenty of noise.
Since the three type of saws are clearly very different and each one is best suited for certain scenarios, I always like to pose two questions when it comes to picking the right model for the job.
Safety Gear and Safety Features
If you’re having a hard time understanding which pole saw is best for you, I’d assume you’re not all that familiar with pruning or trimming trees. This is an overhead activity. Therefore, a helmet, gloves, goggles, and robust work boots are required at all times.
Even if you’re cutting the smallest branches, there are so many splinters flying around that can hurt you. However, safety gear alone is not enough. It’s the safety features that can make or break a pole saw.
Chain breaks, automatic tension adjustments, and automatic lubrication are very important. All of these ensure that the saw is performing within optimal parameters. This means the cuts are smooth and the chain isn’t just chewing or tugging on branches.
And, no matter what type of pole saw you’re using, make sure you get a good grip. If you don’t find the ergonomic grip enough to control the saw accurately, get yourself a shoulder strap. That helps to distribute the vibration throughout your body and also helps with following your planned pruning route.
Getting tired is one thing. You can take a break and resume if your hands don’t feel up to the task. But you don’t want your pole saw to slip and cut into something it’s not supposed to.
Features to Keep an Eye On
Consider both noise and storage as important factors. You may not be allowed to operate a gas pole saw in certain residential areas. If that’s the case, you will need an electric or manual one for the job. Also remember that split poles are quick to take apart and require less storage space.
A pole saw with an adjustable angle head is always a good buy. Especially if you want to cut efficiently at various angles and if you are dealing with tight spaces. Also, if you’re aiming to get an electrical saw or gas saw, see if you can afford automatic chain lubrication. It guarantees consistency when cutting and cuts down on maintenance.
What about Manual Pole Saws?
So why do I still feel like mentioning manual pole saws? – They are very easy to use and have their own advantages in certain situations.
Manual pole saws are inherently light. This means that more people can use them for various tasks. They’re also very long. Some can reach up to 21 feet.
Another interesting fact is that they require little to no maintenance. You can also use them in any type of weather conditions. Of course, they are much slower and require extra effort, but I still find them very convenient to use from time to time.
Are You Ready to Cut Smart?
It’s easy to think that the best pole saws will always be gas-powered pole saws. After all, as long as you have the strength and endurance to use them, electrical and manual ones don’t come even close in terms of raw cutting power.
On the other hand, you might have noticed by now that each type of pole saw has its merit. As long as you focus on meeting the most important requirements and safety precautions, narrowing down to the right picks shouldn’t be all that hard. There may be more than one that meets all your requirements. There’s no need to wrack your brain here. If there are several suitable ones, go with the brand that appeals to you or even your gut.
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.