Greenworks G-MAX 12” Cordless Chainsaw: Product Review
Powerful, quiet and lightweight with more cutting capacity than I expected.
Available on Amazon
The Greenworks G-MAX 12” Cordless Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery-powered chainsaw is touted as an eco-friendly replacement for a similarly sized gasoline-powered chainsaw. Electric, battery-powered chainsaws are making their way into the homeowner segment – in a big way – so I was eager to test this model.
Gasoline-powered chainsaws have their purpose. Used primarily by tree care companies, professional arborists, or the DIY homeowner, they typically have more horsepower per weight, are easy to refuel, make large diameter cuts, and have a longer run time than battery-powered chainsaws do.
That said, there are some real advantages of the new cordless, battery-powered models like the Greenworks G-MAX. There are several reasons a homeowner might choose an electric model over a gasoline-powered chainsaw:
- No mixing of engine oil and gasoline
- No potential spills of the gasoline/oil mixture
- Lower noise level
- No harmful carbon monoxide emissions (clean power)
- High torque that competes well against small to midsize gasoline-powered saws
- Lighter weight
The saw was shipped in a traditional cardboard box. Also included in the box was a bar and chain, a bar and chain scabbard (to protect the operator from catching their clothing or body on the sharp chain teeth), owners manual, a 2Ah (Amp hour) battery and a charger. The entire saw and all of its accessories came through unscathed.
The chainsaw has several nice features:
- 12” Oregon bar and chain
- Tool-less chain tensioning for quick adjustments
- Automatic oiler (applies oil to the bar and chain)
- Translucent fill tank for clear view of the oil level
- Compatible with GreenWorks G-MAX 40V Li-Ion systems so you can use the battery with an assortment of tools
Starting with the small stuff, the Greenworks chainsaw cut like a champ. It easily cut through brush and smaller branches like a hot knife through butter.
Next came the challenge – how would it cut through the big stuff? First I started with a 4” limb. This little saw cut through it with ease. Then came the 10” tree trunk. Again, no problems. I was really surprised at the cutting power of the smallest cordless chainsaw in the Greenworks arsenal. In all three cases the cuts were clean.
One thing I don’t like on the saw is that it has plastic “bucking teeth”. These are located on the saw body next to the chainsaw bar. Their purpose is to stick them into the larger wood and use them as a pivot point (and the handle as the lever) so that there’s less force needed to cut the material. So instead of pushing the saw through the wood, the bucking teeth can be used as a fulcrum point while using the saw handle as the lever. I found that Greenworks plastic bucking teeth were more cosmetic than useful.
Plenty of Oil
A nice feature of the saw is the large bar and chain oil reservoir. It holds plenty of oil for the task and I didn’t run out while using the saw for its battery duration (approximately 25 minutes with a 2.0 Ah battery). The reservoir has a large translucent window making it very easy to see how much oil is in the saw.
The saw also comes with an automatic bar and chain oiler. As the saw chain passes over the bar, friction is created. The bar and chain oil lubricates this area so that heat does not build up and ruin both the bar and chain’s metal parts.
Tool-less Chain Tightening For Easy Adjustments
More and more cordless battery-powered chainsaws these days have tool-less bar/chain tightening mechanisms. Greenworks is no exception. There’s a T handle in the front of the saw that loosens the bar and cover tensioner. A round knob at the rear of the saw adjusts the saw blade length, thereby adjusting the chain tension. Both T handle and tensioning knob stayed in place while cutting the entire time, and never loosened.
Battery Gives The Saw Plenty of OOMPH
At first I was skeptical that a 2.0 Ah Li-Ion battery would have enough power to cut much of anything. I sure was wrong about that one. The battery packed a real punch and made it possible to make about 30 cuts over the course of about 25 minutes (until the battery ran out of juice).
Inserting the battery is a piece of cake. All you have to do is slide it into the back of the saw (with the power level lights facing outward). With a brisk push there is an audible “click”, indicating that the battery is properly seated. From this point the saw is ready to go.
The battery has a power gauge with 4 LED lights at the back end of the unit. Pressing a button near the LED lights shows the amount of power left in the battery.
There are other Ah batteries also available for this saw. Greenworks offers a 4 Ah battery (sold separately) that doubles the run time as compared to the 2 Ah version (the 4 Ah battery delivers about 45 minutes of run time). These numbers will vary depending on how much energy is required (e.g., cutting brush vs. cutting a large log), with larger diameter material drawing more energy and reducing run time.
In my tests, the 2 Ah battery lasted about 25 minutes when cutting a variety of diameters from 2 inches up to 10 inches. I wouldn’t use the Greenworks G-MAX 12” saw for cutting 10 inch wood on a regular basis as this maxes out the saw’s cutting capacity and puts a lot of wear and tear on a smaller saw. If you’re cutting wood beyond 10” then I would consider the Greenworks G-MAX 14” or 16” saws.
The saw I tested used a 2 Ah battery, which took about an hour to charge to full capacity. It’s important to charge the battery to full capacity before using the saw for the first time. Note that the 4.0 Ah battery would take about twice as long to charge as the 2.0 Ah battery.
Greenwork’s 40V batteries work on a variety of their other outdoor power tools, including lawn mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, cultivators, snow blowers, air compressors, and pole chainsaws. This makes it a great feature where batteries are interchangeable with a variety of other tool packages.
> >For more information about Lithium Ion Batteries used in outdoor power equipment, see our Li-Ion FAQs.
One thing I don’t like about the saw is that it doesn’t have an automatic “chain brake” feature. Instead, it has a plastic guard in front of the grip handle. This guard won’t stop a “kick back” situation (where the saw blade and chain are violently kicked back toward the operator because of unsafe cutting practices, like putting the nose of a saw on the rounded diameter of a log). From my perspective, any chainsaw, gas or electric, should incorporate an anti-kickback (chain brake) feature.
On the flip side, I like that there’s a safety button on the handle that has to be depressed before the saw will run. Not only is this important for adults, but it’s a real deterrent if the saw were to get into a child’s hands.
And beyond saw safety, I always recommend wearing a hard hat, long sleeve shirt and pants, boots, gloves, hearing protection, chaps (a chap that goes over your pants that prevents chainsaw cuts), and eye protection (I recommend Wiley-X).
This is a pretty good deal. Greenworks warrants its products for 4 years against material defects or workmanship. If you plan to use the chainsaw for commercial use, it’s only warranted for 90 days from purchase. The warranty does not cover normal wear and tear, abuse, misuse, etc. (but this is to be expected).
Batteries are guaranteed for 2 years against material defects or workmanship.
The bar, chain, and batteries and are available as replacement parts. They can be found on the Greenworks website, and some replacement parts can also be found on Amazon.
The Greenworks G-MAX 12” Cordless Chainsaw is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It has a lot of power and cutting capacity, its power to weight ratio is darn good, and it’s nice and quiet. It needs some improvements with the anti-kickback (chain brake) bar and steel bucking teeth, but other than these improvements it makes for a nice saw.
Where To Buy
Greenworks G-MAX 12” Cordless Chainsaw (with a 2 Ah battery and Charger) is available directly from Greenworks at $179.99. If you’re looking for a better price, it’s also available from Amazon.
Accessories (bar, chain, batteries, charger) are available from both Greenworks (with free shipping) and Amazon, although not all items are available directly on Amazon (e.g., bar and chain).
You can find them here –
- Chain – Greenworks
- Bar – Greenworks
- 2 Ah battery – Greenworks – Amazon
- 4 Ah battery – Greenworks – Amazon
- Battery Charger – Greenworks – Amazon
NOTE: The bar and chain oil does not come packaged with the saw (as it could possibly leak during transit). This can be purchased at any reputable hardware store or from an arborist supply company.
And now, over to you: what tasks could you use a battery-operated chainsaw for? Let us know in the comments below!
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