Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Consumer Reports Rates Chain Saws

Heavy-Duty Gas
Think it’s hard to decide between industry leaders Stihl and Husqvarna? Well, so does Consumer Reports magazine. But in the October 2013 issue, Stihl edged out Husqvarna on performance and price, garnering a “CR Best Buy”. The Stihl MS 180 C-BE (or the 181 C-BE) got CR’s top rating, and cost only $230.

These two top performers both weighed 11 pounds and had 16 inch chains. The Husqvarna 435 440E came in second at $270. Third and fourth place went to Echo, and a Poulan Pro came in 5th at $180.

Light-Duty Gas
Among the light duty saws, the Craftsman 34190 (made by Poulan Pro) came in top, at $150 and the Homelite UTI0589A second at $160. The light duty saws were no lighter in weight, and sometimes were heavier than the heavy-duty saws. Their chain length was also the same, either 16 or 18 inch.

Corded Electric
The top ranked corded electric saws performed as well as the light-duty gas saws. The best, the Worx WG303.1 cost only $100 and weighs 11 pounds. It sawed as quickly as some light duty models and spared you the hassle of refueling, pull starting and tune-ups.

Consumer Reports did not provide any information on repair history. For the complete CR story you may have to be a CR subscriber: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/chain-saws.htm?loginMethod=auto

Now for advice from the Alliance for Green Heat: Even if your wood stove can take an 18 or even a 20 inch log, considering cutting lots into lengths of about 14 to 16 inches, especially if you're planning to burn it in the next few months (less than 6 months). Shorter, split pieces of wood will dry faster, and give you more usable BTUs from each log. And remember, you need to split the wood as soon as possible to really start the drying process. Un-split wood does not dry well and can double the time it takes to season the wood. The EPA's Burn Wise program's Best Burn Practices notes, "Wood burns best when the moisture content is less than 20 percent. You can purchase a wood moisture meter to test the moisture content of your wood before you burn it."

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