Can an electric chainsaw perform as well as a small gasoline powered saw? The short answer is yes. What the electric motor lacks in speed, it makes up in torque. It’s all about the torque, baby, torque. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the buzz on the internet concerning the Worx 303.1 14.5 amp chainsaw being comparable to a small 30ish CC gas powered chainsaw, but it really does handle itself well. Are there drawbacks when compared to a gas powered model? Yes there are, but there are some advantages as well.
- No harmful CO emissions which makes it ideal for using indoors (especially in the winter).
- It is plug and go- no carburetor related issues when starting/operating.
- Substantially cheaper for those who are all about the Benjamins
- Low maintenance
- Much quieter than a conventional chainsaw
- Weighs 11 pounds
- It is tethered to an electric cord which limits its range and sometimes makes it awkward to maneuver with
- Ultra sensitive safety brake that is set too close to the handle. This makes the saw prone to stopping at the slightest change in hand position and limits the saws manoeuvrability while greatly increasing frustration for the end user through repetitive stops.
- Weighs 11 pounds
- Low grade bar
After recently converting my small Stihl MS 193-C over to a dedicated detail carver, I ran into a problem: carving bars are expensive and relatively quite delicate. Not wanting to burn out such an expensive bar, I was left with two choices: try using my beastly MS 271 for as much carving as possible (a daunting preposition considering the 19 pounds of saw, which might not sound like much, but when you consider the myriad angles and cutting planes involved in carving- it gets real heavy, real fast; or buy another small saw for the cutting in between rough blocking and detail carving. I didn’t really want to try to justify the purchase of another saw (to myself, or my wife), but, considering the price of a new carving bar, I didn’t want to shell out a couple of hundred bucks every few months for a new bar.
Enter the Worx 303.1 electric chainsaw. Coming in just over one hundred dollars, it costs about as much as a carving bar, but it should last much longer. Being electric, it also lends itself to carving inside my ramshackle garage in an attempt to escape the distinct unpleasantness of the Canadian winter. No gas means no poisonous carbon monoxide. The electric motor also is unaffected by the changing oxygen levels of our see-sawing winter air temperatures.
The Worx WG303.1 does indeed offer performance comparable to most small gasoline chainsaws. The WG 303.1 cuts well without bogging down, although a bit slower than some gas powered saws, it has much more torque and keeps going even when subjected to relatively hard strain. The 14.5 amp electric motor seems quite powerful. Most people will be quite pleased with its cutting performance. Although the electric cable ties you to within 100 feet of the nearest receptacle, the loss in portability is made up for with a substantial decrease in noise and zero emissions. The quiet operation and lack of harmful exhaust lends the WG303.1 to indoor use, or use in areas (and at times) where there is increased sensitivity to noise. Your neighbours will definitely appreciate the comparable quiet this machine offers.
The Worx WG 303.1 is well balanced, if a bit heavy weighing in at 11 lbs. It feels solid in your hands and seems to be made out of quality materials. Although well balanced, there is a substantial design flaw limiting its manoeuvrability: namely the placing of the emergency chain brake too close to the handle when in the operating position. The brake is so close to the front handle that even a slight change in hand position could result in engaging the emergency brake. This tends to be frustrating for the user in that the saw is stopped easily and often while cutting. This might not be an issue if you are only cutting an occasional limb or doing some light firewood cutting, but could be an issue when using the saw in less conventional cutting positions.
The “auto” tensioner on the WG303.1 is extremely quick and seems to work quite well, but it is a bit of a misnomer in that it does not automatically maintain a constant proper tension. The operator will still have to periodically check and adjust the tension, but the “auto” tensioning system does make the task tool less and quick. You merely turn the large knob all of the way counter-clockwise (to the left) to reset the mechanism, and then you turn the knob clock-wise (to the right) until the bar is tightly secured and the chain is properly tensioned. The tensioning system is a bit hard to get used to in that it is hard to judge when the screwing mechanism is tightened all of the way. There is a ratcheting mechanism involved that makes it seem that the bolt is holding the bar securely when there may be some play. Take extra care to ensure the bar nut/knob is turned all of the way to the right to ensure the bar is held in place. The tension did slip twice during testing of this saw, but operator error was a factor, and it was during bore cutting which puts a lot of pressure on the bar which could reduce the tension on the chain.
The Worx WG 303.1 is solidly constructed and feels like a quality tool in hand. Some online reviewers have claimed that the sprocket is made of plastic (which wouldn’t last more than a few hours), but it is made of steel. The plastic wrap handle feels solid and stable, and, overall, the Worx electric chainsaw appears to be a quality tool that should last the average homeowner a long while. The WG303.1 comes equipped with an Oregon 16″ 91VG057X chain. This is a reduced kickback “safety” chain with slotted bumper tie straps, and Oregon describes it as a “consumer style” chain with professional cutting performance. The Oregon chain cuts well out of the box, but the bumper straps might impede performance as the chain is sharpened. The replacement chain is also marketed as an Oregon S57 chain in the Oregon Blister Pack. The Worx branded bar that comes stock with the WG303.1 is listed as an Oregon 160SCEA041, but Oregon lists it as an Oregon 160DEA041. This is a lower end consumer bar, but it does do the job, and it wouldn’t make fiscal sense to ship an upgraded bar that most consumers would not need (although it would be nice).
The auto oiling mechanism on the WG 303.1 works well. It does a good job of keeping the bar and chain well lubricated. The side translucent oil window allows the operator to quickly see how much oil remains in the reservoir. The saw will operate for around twenty minutes of cutting before the oil reservoir will need refilling. Apparently the WG303.1 prefers a lighter weight oil to perform at its best.
Check out our video performing some test cuts with the Worx WG303.1.