Different Types of Pole Saws

A pole saw is, in essence, a chain saw mounted to a pole. These saws are designed to cut branches that sit higher than a regular saw can reach. They come in many different types, such as manual, electric, battery-powered, gas-powered, and even two-in-one detachable units.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the most common types of pole saws, what makes them unique, and how to identify them.

Manual Pole Saws

Manual pole saws, just like manual hand saws, rely on you to supply the necessary back-and-forth motion to cut down branches. The difficulty involved in using these saws depends on your strength, the saw’s weight and integrity as well as the material you’re cutting. Palm tree fronds, for example, are easy to cut and remove from trees, while hardwood branches can be much more difficult.

Manual pole saws are better suited to people who prefer to manicure or shape their trees, as they don’t do well with thick branches. Manual pole saws usually have a clipper attachment on the saw’s neck that makes snipping small branches quick and easy. However, anything larger than about an inch will require work from the main part of the saw.

Automatic Pole Saws

Automatic pole saws use an engine, a chain, and a fuel source to cut down branches and small trees. Essentially, a mechanical pole saw is a small chainsaw mounted on the end of a stick. The three fuel types you’ll most often see in automatic pole saws are:

  • Electric
  • Battery-powered
  • Gasoline

While you’ll occasionally see a diesel-powered chainsaw, it’s rare to find a pole saw that runs on diesel. Similarly, hydraulic pole saws exist as well, but they’re almost exclusively used by professionals.

Electric Pole Saws

Electric pole saws need to be plugged into an electrical socket to work correctly. Usually, this is done with an extension cord, as the cable that comes attached to the pole saw itself is shortened to reduce its weight. Electric pole saws are the lightest of the automatic pole saws, and they tend to cause the fewest headaches, too.

The only limitation of electric pole saws, of course, is the extension cord. If you have a tree to trim on the other side of your property, it might be impossible for you to run an extension cord all the way out there. However, they’re great for small yards with just a few trees to trim.

Battery-Powered Pole Saws

Battery-powered pole saws tend to be the weakest of the bunch, but they’re some of the most convenient. Battery-powered pole saws are less finicky than gas-powered models, and when they run out of power, all you need to do is charge or replace the battery – no gasoline needed.

Battery-powered pole saws tend to be lighter than gas-powered models, but they’re noticeably heavier than electric pole saws. Because they’re limited by a battery, they can’t exert the same power as an electric or gas pole saw, either. They’re best for small yards, small trees, and people who don’t like dealing with extension cords.

Gas Pole Saws

Gas pole saws are the most powerful pole saws you can acquire. Not only are they untethered – you can take them anywhere, thanks to not needing a charger or an extension cable – they’re refillable anywhere, too. They’re great for people with large properties and large trees to trim.

However, gas-powered pole saws can be some of the most unwieldy pole saws, and they can be incredibly heavy, too. They get the job done better than any other pole saw, but they’re also prone to mechanical failure, starting issues, and other problems.

2-In-1 Pole Saws

2-in-1 pole saws are the most versatile of all the pole saws. The chain saw portions of these pole saws detach from the poles themselves when you need them to. This way, you can use the pole saw as either a handheld chainsaw or a longer pole saw.

Many consumers find 2-in-1 pole saws to provide the most convenience because of this detaching factor. You can cut branches off trees in one minute. Then, when you’re done, you can detach the chain saw and cut the felled branches down to manageable sizes.

Deciding Which Pole Saw is Right for You

Aside from the different types of pole saws, you should consider a few other things before purchasing one. One of the most important things is the size of the bar on your pole saw. The bar determines what sizes of branches you can successfully cut, as generally, the maximum size you can cut will be about an inch or two less than the length of the bar.

That being said, pole saws don’t come with enormous bar sizes since a larger bar means a heavier, less stable unit. This, in turn, increases the hazards associated with using the saw. The most common bar sizes you’ll find for pole saws are ten inches and eight inches.

However, if you’re looking at manual pole saws, you may be able to find a broader range of sizes. This is because manual pole saws aren’t reliant on heavy engines and dangerous moving parts.

The extendable length of your pole saw is the final thing you should consider. While most pole saws, in combination with your own height, can reach a distance of about 15 feet, the telescoping portions of pole saws can be vastly different lengths.

For example, the shortest automatic pole saws top out at about six feet in length, while the longest manual pole saws can have up to fifteen feet of telescoping length (and that’s not even counting your own height).

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there is a pole saw out there for virtually every need and situation. Which kind is right for you depends on your strength, the height of your tree, and the types of branches you need to cut. As long as you do your research, you’ll be able to find the saw that works best for you.