Guide to Choosing the Best Pole Saw

Pole saws, otherwise known as pruning saws or tree pruners, are basically small chainsaws on a pole. They can make quick work of trimming trees with minimal effort.

Pole saws are found in a couple of different types: gas and electric. Gas pole saws use an onboard fuel tank. Electric pole saws come in two varieties – corded and cordless.

Choosing the best pole saw for you depends on a few things. How long at a time will you be operating the pole saw? Will you have access to a 110V outlet at all times? Is the weight of the saw a concern? How about the noise level?

Let’s narrow it down to which type of pole saw is the best fit for you.

Gas Pole Saws

Husqvarna 327PT5S Gas Pole Saw

Gas-powered pole saws are the most powerful and heavy-duty type. With routine maintenance and a spare gas can handy, these saws can be operated for hours each day all week long. Gas pole saws are typically the choice of professional landscapers.

Pros:

  • The most powerful type of pole saw for extended operation and cutting thicker/stronger branches
  • Runtime is only limited to the amount of gas you have
  • Long-lasting when maintained properly

Cons:

  • Heavier than electric models
  • Higher noise level than electric motors
  • More costly to purchase initially and to maintain

Electric Pole Saws

Remington RM1015P Electric Pole Saw

Corded electric pole saws are easy to operate and nearly maintenance-free. They are lightweight, typically coming in at just over 10 pounds. For regular maintenance in a small yard, these are a great choice.
Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Quieter operation than gas pole saws
  • Easy to run and maintain
  • More powerful  than cordless pole saws

Cons:

  • Limited to a distance of 100 feet from a power outlet
  • Not as powerful as gas models

Cordless Pole Saws

Black and Decker LPP120 Cordless Pole Saw

Cordless pole saws are getting better all the time, and are the most convenient to operate. Using a rechargeable battery pack (typically Lithium-Ion), cordless pruners can be operated away from a power outlet. Runtime is sufficient for small jobs on one battery pack, but extra battery packs can be purchased for large trimming work. Some models allow you to detach the saw from the pole, making it simple to cut up branches into smaller pieces.
Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Quieter than gas saws
  • Free from cords
  • Easy to use and maintain

Cons:

  • Less powerful than gas and corded pole saws
  • Runtime limited to the charge of the battery pack
  • A few pounds heavier than corded pole saws

If you’re going to be working with a pole saw on a daily basis, you really will want to go with a gas model. If you’re going to be maintaining your own yard or are pruning a limited number of trees, electric pole saws are less costly and are easy to work with.

Pole Saws by Price

If you have a limited budget to work with, electric pole saws are the cheaper type to buy. They’ll also cost less to operate since they need less maintenance and electricity is cheaper than fuel.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for the different types:
Corded Electric Pole Saw: to $79-$159
Cordless Electric Pole Saw: $89-$169
Gas Pole Saw: $179-$650

Bar Length

The bar length is measured in inches and refers to the length of the surface the chain travels around. 8” is the most typical size, but 6”, 10”, and 12” are also available. A longer bar has the ability to cut through thicker tree limbs. You’ll want to select a pole saw with a bar length great than the largest tree limbs you plan to cut through. For example, if you need to cut through a 9” limb, you’ll want a pole saw with at least a 10” bar length.
Since it takes more power to drive a larger chain and cut through thicker limbs, you’ll only find gas pole saws in a 12” length since they’re the most powerful.

Maximum Extension vs. Pole Reach

Since one of the main benefits of a pole saw over loppers or a chainsaw is its extended reach, the length of the pole saw is important to look at. This will depend on the model you purchase.
Pole saws are telescoping, allowing them to take up less space when stored and transported, but to extend when needed to cut high branches. The maximum extension of most models varies from 8 feet to 12 feet.
Some manufacturers advertise the “pole reach” or “maximum reach,” which may take into account the height of the person holding it. Another 3-5 feet gets added to the maximum extension, so you’ll see as high as “15’ reach” advertised. Make sure to look at the maximum extension and not the pole reach when deciding on a pole saw to get the most accurate comparison.

Now that you know what to look for in a pole saw, read through our detailed product reviews to find the best rated model!