In order to stay healthy and look their best, trees need occasional pruning to remove broken branches and to thin out dense limbs. Perhaps the best way to tackle this project is with a pole saw—basically a chainsaw attached to a long pole that lets you reach up to cut branches while remaining safely on the ground.
While pole saws can make pruning a whole lot easier, they’re not right for every situation. That is, if you only need to prune thin twigs, vines, or foliage, you may not need a pole saw. However, if you aim to cut tree branches between 2 and 8 inches in diameter, a pole saw could be just the ticket.
To find out which pole saws perform the best, we field-tested some of the best on the market. Keep reading to find out the main considerations when selecting a trimming tool for your landscaping needs and to find out how the following tools performed during our backyard tests.
- BEST OVERALL ELECTRIC: Greenworks 40V Cordless Pole Saw
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: WORX WG309, 8 Amp 10-inch Corded Pole Saw & Chainsaw
- BEST BATTERY: EGO Power+ 10-Inch 56-Volt Multi Head Pole Saw
- BEST CORDED ELECTRIC: Sun Joe SWJ800E 8-Inch 6.5-Amp Telescoping Electric
- BEST LIGHT-DUTY: WORX WG349 20V Power Share 8″ Pole Saw
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: MAXTRA Gas Pole Saw, 42.7CC 2-Cycle Powerful Pruner
- BEST GAS COMBO: PROYAMA Powerful 42.7cc 5 in 1 Multi functional
Types of Pole Saws
Pole saw power options include corded electric, battery-operated, and gas-powered. Not only does the type of power affect the cost of the saw, but it also factors into its intended use. Get to know these three types better to find the right pole saw for your landscaping needs.
For users with small yards, a corded electric pole saw is an affordable option. Since it connects to a power outlet, however, users are restricted in how far they can trim by the length of an extension cord. They are quieter than gas-powered models, but don’t expect silent operation—all pole saws make noise.
Electric pole saws aren’t as powerful as gas-powered models; the power they produce is measured in amperes (amps) and most range from 6 to 10 amps, which is powerful enough to cut branches from 2 to 5 inches in diameter.
Cordless pole saws are powered by rechargeable batteries. They’re a good choice for medium-size to large yards if users don’t want to be restricted by the length of an extension cord. These pole saws are ideal for branches 3 to 8 inches in diameter and are quieter than their gas-powered counterparts.
Their power capability is measured in volts, which relates to battery size, and ranges from 40 to 80 volts. The higher the volts, the more powerful the saw. Battery-operated pole saws are typically more expensive than their corded counterparts.
If there are a lot of trees to trim and the user doesn’t mind the noise, a gas-powered pole saw is a good option. Gas pole saws are measured by engine size in cubic centimeters (cc) and range from 20 to 40cc. The larger the engine, the more powerful the saw.
Professionals often use commercial-grade gas-powered pole saws because they can operate for hours and cut through branches up to 8 inches in diameter (branches larger than 12 inches in diameter are usually cut with heavy-duty chainsaws).
With the increased power of a gas pole saw comes a higher price and more maintenance requirements. Unlike electric tools, gas-powered saws require oil changes and fuel tank refills.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pole Saw
Like all power tools, pole saws are designed to suit various needs; some are geared toward the do-it-yourselfer, while others are better suited for professionals. Consider the following factors when shopping.
Cutting Bar Length
On a pole saw, the cutting bar determines the maximum branch diameter that can be cut. Bar lengths run from 6 to 12 inches, with 8 inches being the most common. Gas-powered pole saws feature the longest cutting bars (usually between 10 and 12 inches), which is one of the reasons they’re better equipped for tougher jobs.
The standard rule of thumb is that the cutting bar should be a minimum of 2 inches longer than the diameter of the branch. For example, an 8-inch bar is needed to cut a branch 6 inches in diameter.
A pole saw’s “working height” often appears on the packaging but doesn’t indicate the actual length of the pole—it refers to the length of the pole plus an arm length. Manufacturers typically estimate 2 to 3 feet for arm length, so if the pole saw claims to have a 10-foot working height, the pole saw will be 7 to 8 feet long from tip to tip.
Most pole saws max out at a 10-foot to 12-foot working height; at greater heights, the tool can become difficult to control safely, especially in windy conditions. Many models include telescoping poles that allow length adjustment. A telescoping pole makes it easier to quickly switch between trimming the hedge at ground level and cutting a tree branch 6 feet overhead.
Both gas and cordless pole saws rely on fuel that will gradually run out as the tool runs. Gas pole saws eventually need to have the gas tank refilled when they run out. Typical runtime per tank ranges from 2 to 4 hours. However, when there is spare gas available nearby, refilling the gas tank doesn’t take long.
Cordless pole saws operate on batteries that typically have a runtime between 30 to 60 minutes depending on the power output and the specific battery. Once the battery runs out, it takes about an hour to recharge. It’s a good idea to have a spare battery so that one can always be ready to use.
It’s important to remember that these tools aren’t supported by anything except the user, so the entire weight of the tool needs to be properly held, balanced, and controlled even when a telescoping pole is at its full length. If that isn’t possible for the specific user, then the tool is too heavy.
Gas pole saws have powerful engines, but the increased power also adds weight. Due to the heavy motors, they typically weigh between 20 to 25 pounds. Cordless pole saws weigh less than gas pole saws, but they can still weigh about 15 to 20 pounds.
The lightest option for a pole saw is a corded electric model. They don’t need a battery or the technology to equip and transfer battery power to a motor, so electric pole saws are usually less than 15 pounds.
Safety needs to be one of the first concerns when it comes to operating a powerful cutting tool like a pole saw. Take some time to look through the manual to know how to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations for use. Also, keep in mind that while the pole saw may feel comfortable when it’s being used at ground level on a hedge, once the pole is extended the pole saw gets more difficult to hold, maneuver, and control.
Look for pole saws that are equipped with easy-to-grip handles and telescoping poles for better control over the saw. If the current height is too difficult to manage, a telescoping pole can be shortened to help the user regain control. Saw guards are also helpful to protect the user and the saw blade when the pole saw isn’t being used.
Manufacturers are constantly striving to make pole saws more comfortable and easier to operate. On some saws, there are anti-vibration features and nonslip grips, and many pole saws come with a self-oiling chain. If it’s not self-oiling, the user will have to oil the chain by hand, which will be detailed in the owner’s manual.
Some pole saws feature a cutting head that can be detached from the end of the pole for use as a handheld chainsaw. This can be helpful if the desire is to cut a branch into smaller pieces after felling it for firewood.
Our Top Picks
We tested the following products extensively in our backyard trials. Each pole saw was selected based on its reputation for quality in a range of areas, such as cutting- bar length, working height, runtime, weight, and overall capability. Use our reviews to help choose the best pole saw to maintain the trees, hedges, and other foliage in your yard.
With 40 volts of power, the Greenworks cordless pole saw offers top-notch cutting ability in a convenient battery-operated saw. It’s lightweight at just 9.3 pounds and particularly easy to handle, thanks to the inclusion of reduced vibration technology. The cordless pole saw comes with a battery and a charger, and it can be started instantly with the simple push-button control instead of having to deal with the pull cords on gas pole saws.
The pole saw is great for reaching those high-up branches thanks to the tool’s generous pole length. Its telescoping bar extends for a nearly 9-foot working height and it has an 8-inch cutting bar enabling users to cut through out-of-reach branches up to about 6 inches in diameter. This pole saw is available as a stand-alone tool or as a multi-tool kit with a power hedge-trimmer attachment. The same 40-volt powerhead and battery run both attachments, saving space in the garage.
We liked the combination of convenience, weight, and reach that this saw offered. The 40-volt battery delivers plenty of power to cut through even dry, hardened dead branches. Plus the bar is mounted at a slight angle to the handle, making it safer and easier to cut branches in a downward direction when standing back away from the line of fall.
- Weight: 9.3 pounds
- Length: 8 feet, 11 inches
- Bar size: 8 inches
- Good power and runtime
- Angled bar for better leverage
- Lightweight but strong
- Plenty of reach
- Limited to smaller branch diameters
- Small bar oil reservoir
- Battery sticks in the housing
The WORX corded electric pole saw is an affordable 2-in-1 power tool that can be used as both a pole saw when the extension pole is attached and as a regular chainsaw without the extension pole. The telescoping pole is 8 feet in length, giving the pole saw up to 10 feet of working range when it is fully extended. Weighing in at just 10 pounds, this pole saw is made so that it’s easy to hold and maneuver.
The corded pole saw features built-in automatic chain lubrication to ensure that the chain portion of the saw is always operating at peak efficiency, making for quicker, more controlled cuts. With a 10-inch cutting bar, the pole saw can be used on branches or tree trunks that are up to 8 inches in diameter. It also includes a blade protection cover to keep the saw blade safe when it’s not in use.
Testing this saw was a unique experience. Because a whole chainsaw is attached by means of a mechanical adapter to the top of the extension pole, the tool is top-heavy. However, being a corded electric saw, it offers lots of power and a long 10-inch bar. The saw is easy to attach to and detach from the pole in about a minute. The best attribute is its versatility.
- Weight: 10 pounds
- Length: 8 feet, 1.5 inches
- Bar size: 10 inches
- Versatile electric chainsaw or pole chainsaw
- Powerful motor
- Long cutting bar
- Top-heavy design
- Not comfortable for extended use
- Attachment system is somewhat clunky
The EGO Power+ 56-volt tool collection includes a variety of mowers, blowers, and other cordless electric yard maintenance tools, all powered by the same 56-volt arc lithium rechargeable battery. These tools boast gas-like power in a clean, cordless package. This pole chainsaw is part of EGO’s multi-attachment powerhead series, which includes seven other interchangeable attachments: a bristle brush, a rubber broom, a cultivator, a hedge trimmer, a string trimmer, and a pole extension. It is available as the attachment only or sold with the powerhead.
The saw offers ample cutting power and a generous 10-inch cutting bar and is capable of cutting through an 8-inch limb. The assembled tool length is about 7.5 feet, which may be extended by adding the optional 31-inch pole extension (sold separately). If this is the only EGO tool owned, it will be costly due to the price of the battery, but adding it to an existing EGO lineup brings the cost in line with other cordless pole chainsaws.
We liked this tool a lot. The heavy battery at the back end makes it balance more like a gas- powered saw, with cutting power to match, and the overall weight was lighter than most gas pole saws. Without an extension pole, the reach is shorter than most other pole saws, but it could be adequate for some.
- Weight: 15 pounds
- Length: 7 feet, 6 inches
- Bar size: 10 inches
- Long battery runtime
- Excellent power
- Powerhead works with 7 other attachments
- Heaviest battery-powered saw we tested
- Shortest reach of the group we tested (extra extension pole sold separately)
Weighing just 7 pounds, the lightweight Sun Joe corded electric pole saw is a great option if the pole saw needs to be used for more than an hour at a time. Users won’t need to wait for a battery to recharge or have to make a trip to the gas station with this corded electric tool that can run as long as there is an active electrical connection. However, movement is limited by the length of the extension cord, so it’s a good idea to invest in a cord that can reach any trees or hedges in the yard.
This pole saw has a telescoping pole that can extend more than 8 feet, giving the user about 10.7 feet of maximum working height. It can cut through branches up to 6 inches thick with the 8-inch cutting bar, and the pole saw automatically lubricates itself to help keep the saw blade in good working order.
We liked the ease of plug-and-play without having to worry about mixing fuel or charging a battery. This saw feels lightweight, yet it offers enough power to cut through branches of small to medium thickness and is well-balanced. It’s a practical and budget-friendly choice for occasional use.
- Weight: 7 pounds
- Length: 8 feet, 8 inches
- Bar size: 8 inches
- Plug-and-play convenience
- High-quality Oregon-brand bar and chain
- Comfortable for occasional extended use
- Only for use on smaller branches
- Fixed straight bar does not cut directly downward
- Small bar-oil reservoir
This cordless pole saw is ideal for those with small to midsize yards. Powerful enough to trim branches up to 6.5 inches in diameter, it boasts a telescoping pole that gives users a maximum working height of 13 feet.
This saw also has an automatic chain tensioner and a chain lube system, and it weighs 8 pounds. Plus, it’s budget-friendly. However, one of the best features of this tool is the three-position head that gives the user the option between 0 degrees, 15 degrees, or 30 degrees to help trim hard-to-reach branches.
This was the lightest-weight non-corded pole saw we tested, and it was only a pound heavier than the lightest overall. The 20-volt battery delivers a surprising amount of power, good for cutting all of the branches we tried. And it offers a really tall reach. For occasional use on a branch or two, this tool makes a lot of sense.
- Weight: 8 pounds
- Length: 9 feet, 4 inches
- Bar size: 8 inches
- Lightweight but powerful
- Comfortable to work with
- Long reach
- Compact size for storage
- Relatively short runtime
- Small bar-oil reservoir
- Clamps allow the telescoping pole to slip from the locked position
This pole saw has a 10-inch cutting bar that can be used for pruning or trimming branches up to 8 inches in diameter. Even more impressive is the telescoping pole that can be adjusted from 8 feet to more than 11 feet, giving the user a maximum working height of about 13 feet.
However, the quick pace at which this pole saw cuts is due to the powerful gas engine. The power produced by the 42.7-cc 2-cycle engine allows users to handle heavy-duty tasks, like cutting down small trees or removing large branches. It weighs in at a hefty 21 pounds.
The first thing we noticed about this saw was how much heavier it is than the electric and cordless models. The weight is held at the bottom of the saw instead of at the cutting head, so it balances much differently. The included harness is necessary to reduce user fatigue. The huge fuel tank will offer hours of runtime, so for tough jobs and extended use, this saw would be a good choice.
- Weight: 21 pounds
- Length: 11 feet, 8 inches
- Bar size: 10 inches
- Good reach
- Powerful 2-cycle motor
- Includes a harness to reduce operator fatigue
- More than twice as heavy as electric
- Loud engine noise
- Awkward pole assembly system
Powerful yet lightweight, this PROYAMA gas-powered pole saw weighs just 13 pounds, despite the 42.7cc 2-cycle motor. The pole saw is easy to lift, hold, and maneuver, and it has a telescoping pole that can be adjusted from 8 feet to just over 11 feet, giving the user a maximum working height of about 13 feet. This pole saw can be used on branches up to 10 inches in diameter due to its long 12-inch cutting bar.
Included with the gas pole saw are several additional trimming tools that can be attached in place of the pole saw. These extra attachments include a hedge trimmer, a brush cutter, and a string trimmer. The pole saw also includes ear protection, a face shield, safety gloves, and a pole saw bar scabbard to help keep the pole saw blade safe when not in use.
We appreciated the robust cutting power and reach this tool offered. The ample- size bar and powerful motor is capable of cutting through dangerously large branches. User beware, though; take down those big branches in smaller sections. We found the big gas engine to be excessively heavy for continuous use; thankfully, though, a harness is included.
- Weight: 31 pounds
- Length: 11 feet, 5 inches
- Bar size: 12 inches
- Very powerful engine
- Long cutting bar
- Large fuel tank for all-day use
- Very heavy
- Loud engine noise
- Awkward pin and tension screw pole assembly system
The Greenworks 40V Cordless Pole Saw offers the best combination of performance, comfort, and price among all the saws we tested. It gets the job done and is capable of a moderately long runtime on a single charge.
For occasional extended use at a bargain price, the Sun Joe Pole Saw could be an excellent choice. It’s not built for hours of rugged daily use, but weekenders and seasonal users may appreciate its lightweight capability. And corded power eliminates the need for costly batteries and messy fuel.
How We Chose the Best Pole Saws
We used the pole saws in this guide to trim up encroaching branches from a backyard’s natural area. The area included a mix of green hardwoods and evergreens, as well as hardened dead branches. We did our best to push each tool to its operable limits in terms of working height, difficulty of reach or angle, and branch diameter.
We based our considerations and comments on the tools’ physical measurements, as well as the ways they performed and felt. We assumed that most readers would not require an expensive pro-quality tool for daily use but would still be interested in high-quality equipment capable of occasional long work days. Therefore, we based our top picks on a combination of functionality, durability, and price point.
Pole saws are dangerous tools that should be used only by those who are confident about how to operate the tool and who have taken proper safety precautions, like wearing personal protective equipment. To learn more about how this tool can be used, take a look at these answers to commonly asked questions below.
Q. Can you use a pole saw as a chainsaw?
A pole saw is intended to cut difficult-to-reach branches in order to trim trees, hedges, and other foliage. While the saw does effectively cut through wood, it’s not large enough to fully replace a chainsaw. A chainsaw has the power and size to be able to cut through the trunk of a tree, while a pole saw is best used for tree trimming.
Q. Can you trim hedges with a pole saw?
These versatile tools can be used in place of a hedge trimmer to maintain hedges, vines, and brambles, if necessary.
Q. How big a limb can I cut with a pole saw?
Depending on the size of the saw and the power potential of the tool, pole saws can be used to cut branches from 2 to 9 inches in size. Just keep in mind that the best electric pole saw will likely have less power output than the best gas pole saw, so if the tool will be used regularly for very thick branches, then a gas pole saw would be better.
Q. Can a pole saw get wet?
While most pole saws have some resistance to water, it isn’t a good idea to get the pole saw wet because the water can damage the electric components of the tool or cause rusting and corrosion on the saw. However, it should be noted that there is no harm in using a pole saw to cut through wet wood—just make sure to properly clean the saw after use so that moisture doesn’t cling to the metal and cause rusting.
Q. Is it safe to use a pole saw on a ladder?
Even the best pole saws aren’t safe to use on a ladder. The saw is situated at the end of a long, telescoping pole that may be able to reach up to 12 feet away without the need for a ladder. Electric pole saws also have power cords that can cause users to trip, but even with a cordless pole saw it’s too difficult for the user to safely keep themselves balanced while operating this power tool on a ladder.