Do Electric Chainsaws Need Oil?

Do Electric Chainsaws Need Oil

While there is no questioning the superior cutting strength of gas-powered chainsaws, every day, more chainsaw manufacturers are making fully electric tools. While a gas model may have advantages for big jobs, smaller tasks can be tidily and efficiently handled with an electric motor chainsaw. Both battery-powered and corded chainsaws can be used around the yard and garden to clean up branches and trim trees. 

Although gas-powered chainsaws can cut through thick branches fast, they also come with a high carbon footprint. Petroleum-based oils need to be mixed with the gasoline to power the machine and keep internal combustible parts gliding smoothly. Exhaust, noise, and messy fuel sources can all increase the environmental impact of gas chainsaws and make electric power tools an attractive prospect with much less oil-heavy maintenance. 

Does an Electric Chainsaw Need Oil?

With no combustion in an electric motor, engine oil is not needed for proper maintenance. However, oil is needed for chain lubrication. Regardless of the power source, chain oil is needed to reduce friction and prevent excessive chain damage and overheating. Oil specifically designed for chainsaw bars or natural alternatives like vegetable oils needs to be applied regularly for efficient performance and power tool protection. 

WEN 4017 Electric Chainsaw, 16"

An electric chainsaw does not need the mixture of petroleum-based oils and fuel that a gas-engine chainsaw needs. Typically, a gas-engine chainsaw will need a 50:1 ratio of oil to gas, while some older 2-stroke engines require a mix of 40:1 to run smoothly.

Battery chainsaws and ones running on extension cords need to be regularly monitored to ensure there is always chain oil on the guide bar. A battery chainsaw without bar oil can quickly overheat and damage the chain and drive links. It is a good idea to check your oil levels every 30 mins or so and refill chainsaw chain lubricants frequently. 

What Oils Work in a Battery-Powered Chainsaw?

Despite claims that only specially formulated guide bar oils will work on chainsaws, a wide range of lubricants are safe and effective to use. Using natural chainsaw lubrication oil can save you money and have less of a harmful impact on the environment. Synthetic and petroleum oils typically last longer and hold up to heat fluctuations better but can be harmful to plants and animals in the area.  

Chainsaw Bar Oil

For general maintenance purposes and long-term storage chain lubrication, oil made specifically for your model will yield the best results. The moving components of the saw are designed to operate in the conditions this lubrication supplies, and engine repairs are far less likely if proper oil is used. However, poor lubrication can still occur if oil is left to get dirty or is filled incorrectly.

Motor Oil

Common motor oil rated SAE 10-30 can be used as chain lubrication on electric and gas-powered chainsaws. SAE 10 performs better in cooler conditions, whereas SAE 30 will adhere to blades even at high temperatures. Adjusting the tackiness and thickness of motor oil is easier than with other chainsaw lubrication options. 

Plant-Based Oils

Many of the culinary oils we use in cooking can also be used as chain lubricants. In addition to being potentially cheaper and more readily available, these natural oils are also better for the environment and will not stain your clothes or lawn nearly as badly as conventional oils. Vegetable oils may go rancid if unused for long periods of time, and other oils should be used when overwintering chains and bars. 

Mineral Oil

A good lubricant that fits between plant-based and synthetic oils is mineral oil. While far less harmful to the environment than petroleum oils, mineral oil will last in storage longer than canola and adheres to the blade better in fluctuating temperatures. Adding mineral oil to tackier lubricants can help create a more versatile oil for specific jobs. 

What is the Oil Change Process for an Electric Chainsaw?

Greenworks 10.5 Amp 14-Inch Corded Chainsaw 20222

Changing the oil for chainsaw bar lubrication in electric chainsaws is similar to adding blade oil in other saws. You will need to find a good spot to work and go through the full process. Working in a safe, clean, and methodical manner can help you avoid spills and accidents and get you back to chopping sooner. 

StepRequirementsProcess
Tools and LocationCardboard, Towel, Flat SurfaceFind a flat area and lay out your tools 
Turn Off and Unplug/Remove BatteryPlug or Battery PackKill the motor and unplug or remove the battery to prevent accidental starts and injury
Allow to Cool Flat Surface, Air FlowLay the saw down and let it cool until touching the body barehanded doesn’t burn or cause discomfort
Clean around Oil CapRag or Paper TowelWipe all dirt and debris from around the oil cap
Twist and Remove LidCloth and HandsGrab the cap with a towel or your hands and twist counterclockwise until the cap removes (some unscrew clockwise, so check your manual)
Pour Oil CarefullyFunnel, Oil ContainerPlace the clean funnel into the oil tank and slowly pour oil in
Stop at Full MarkFill GaugeKeep an eye on the fill line at stop at the max point to avoid over-pressurization of fluids under extreme heat
Wipe any SpillsTowel or ClothWipe any oil spills from around the cap and along the chainsaw body
Replace Cap TightlyCapTurn the cap the opposite way you twisted it to open and make sure it is tight and secure
Safely Run Saw to Distribute LubricantPower Source, Blade SpaceReconnect and attach all power supplies and run the chainsaw to coat the chain and bar with lubricant, and remove any old buildup from the tank

Set-Up 

When your chainsaw runs out of oil during operation, move to a clear space with a flat surface and collect your oil-changing tools. Set the chainsaw down and let it cool until you can comfortably handle the body and oil cap. Clean any dirt or debris that has accumulated along the body and the chain to make re-oiling more efficient. 

Changing Oil 

Remove the lid and place it to the side or let hang if attached via plastic to access the oil tank. Grab a clean funnel and insert the small end into the oil tank. Slowly pour the oil into the funnel and make sure not to pull the funnel up or let the oil slop over the rim while filling. Stop poring the oil at the max fill line to prevent issues during operation. Remove the funnel and set it on a towel or cardboard to avoid stains, and replace the cap securely. 

Clean Up 

Place the funnel and oil container safely to the side where you can access it the next time you have a change but where it will not be a tripping hazard. Wipe down any spills around the cap and on the body to reduce grime build-up. Replace all protective gear and run the saw to evenly distribute the oil throughout the sprockets and along the chain bar. 

Common Oil Issues Electric Chainsaws Encounter

Oregon CS1400 15 Amp Electric Chainsaw, Powerful Corded Electric Saw with 16-Inch Guide Bar & ControlCut Saw Chain, Quiet & Low Kickback (603348)

When running an electric chainsaw, the main thing to be concerned about is the power source. Questions like how far can this cord reach or how long will this battery last plague our minds making blade lubrication take its place on the back burner of our thoughts. But there are some serious issues that can occur if proper chain lubrication maintenance is not enacted regularly. 

Excessive Heat

The number one issue is excessive heat. The blade will create greater friction the drier the chain gets, and the resulting wood will be rubbed hard. Continuous friction will create heat, and this can give way to several other serious issues. In extreme cases, the motor will cut off to protect circuitry and internal components when temperatures rise too high. 

Smoking at the Tip

When wood is cut without lubrication, the friction can create smoke. As the chainsaw continues to cut into the wood, dust particles and smoke can accumulate and reduce visibility. If smoke is bad enough, even killing the engine and removing the bar from the tree cut will still result in lingering smoke from the tip of the saw and contact points. 

Kickback and Extra Resistance

Without lubrication, hard pockets of wood can become harder, and dense trees will be even more difficult to cut through. Practices like rocking the blade and pushing harder than needed can result in damage to machines and injury to yourself. Keep your chain sharp and lubricated to cut through wood with less resistance and reduced safety risks. 

Chain Damage 

Prolonged use of an unlubricated chain can cause lasting damage. Every cut will dull the chain, and a dull chain can quickly become damaged if neglected. Running a dull unlubricated chain can increase groove damage and break chains leading to costly bar replacement. Keep chains oiled to reduce damage to your electric chainsaw blades.