Here at the homestead, saving money is always on our minds. One of our biggest expenses (as most can relate) is energy cost. Summer is hard because the house isn’t well insulated and Texas summers are brutal. The best we can do there is set the thermostat up a little and deal with the fact that it is going to be warmer than we like in the house. Any unusually cooler days in Summer will see windows open and the air conditioner taking a break. Those days are few and far between in Texas. We just suck it up and budget for high electric bills from June through September.
Winter is a different story in Texas. We can get cold here, but nothing like the folks up north. A really cold night will be in the upper teens, and single digit temperatures will set records. We just came out of an unusually cold Winter, and my electric bill reflected that. I posted an electric bill in December that rivaled the highest Summer bills. Time to get serious on reducing that bill!
We have a fireplace in the house, and using it reduced the amount of time the electric furnace runs. It’s a no-brainer… Use the fireplace more when it’s cold outside! The only catch is a fireplace needs a steady supply of firewood. That means tooling up with the proper equipment to feed the wood stack. I have a McCulloch gas chainsaw already, but as it ages it is getting moody. It’s hesitant to start sometimes and can be a pain to keep running at times. I need a new gas saw, but this one will have to limp along until I can afford something better.
Here’s where the Electric Chainsaw comes in. I was shopping around at Harbor Freight and saw a Chicago Electric 14 inch electric chainsaw on sale for 50 dollars. I checked the online reviews on my phone and all seemed good. I went ahead and picked one up with the idea that I could use it close to the house for small chores. It came with a bottle of bar oil, and once filled it was ready to use.
I started out with some small jobs to test it out. A few low limbs here, some saplings there. It never missed a beat and did everything I wanted with little effort. After I was satisfied with the performance, I moved on to a larger diameter tree that needed to come down. The little chainsaw ripped through an elm tree with a trunk diameter of 10 inches or so. It was slower than a gas saw, but it got the job down well.
A few weeks ago, I got started on the wood pile for next Winter. I had already selected two Locust trees that needed thinned out close to the house. I fired up the gas saw and got one felled. Halfway through trimming the limbs off, my saw started acting up. It would run for a minute then die. After restarting it a couple of times with the same result, I set it down and walked away for a bit. I debated on taking it apart to troubleshoot, but I had a tree down in the yard and partially in the driveway. No time for saw repair!!
I strung out an extension cord and grabbed the electric saw. Within an hour, I had the tree limbed and cut into firewood length pieces. I was still feeling productive so I didn’t want to interrupt the workflow. I drug the extension cord and saw out to the next tree and felled it as well. Another hour and it was done. My gas saw would have done it a little bit faster, but I didn’t want to waste a good working day trying to get it running again.
The wood is stacked and seasoning so I can split it later once it dries out. All in all, these two trees provided about a rick of wood. All of the cuts save the first felling cut were done with the 50 dollar electric saw. I’d say this little saw passed its first real test with flying colors.
The downside to an electric chainsaw is that it obviously requires an electrical outlet. It is limited by the length of the extension cord and the location of the nearest outlet. I was lucky that both of these trees were within 100 feet of an outlet. You won’t taking it very far into the woods unless you are willing to drag a generator along or have a 1200 Watt or larger inverter on a vehicle.
Overall, I can’t recommend this thing enough for small jobs or as a backup to a gas chainsaw. There is no fueling, pulling a rope, or warmup times to mess with. It also weighs half as much as my gas saw, so I can use it longer without fatigue.