We’ve had the opportunity to see several new lithium-ion powered chainsaws this year. What started as a novelty has developed into a serious landscape tool and even professionals are surprised at the power that’s being delivered through these small cells. Serious contenders for pro attention start with Husqvarna’s 36V model, jump to EGO’s 56V solution, and end up with Greenworks and Kobalt at 80V. I reviewed Kobalt’s 40V chainsaw last year. It was certainly capably of handling the homeowner’s tree trimming, but I expect more out of the Kobalt 80V chainsaw. I’m going to be taking the 80V model on a field trip into the woods. Before we set off, let’s take a look at what this model has to offer.
Kobalt 80V Chainsaw First Impressions
Lets start with the obvious improvement- the battery. This bad boy offers an 80V lithium-ion rechargeable battery. As a part of the 80V series of Kobalt outdoor power equipment, the battery is interchangeable with the 80V mower, blower, and string trimmer. The 2.0 Ah battery fully charges at 30 minutes, which I found impressive for 144 watt hour battery. Being battery powered, there are the benefits of less noise, no fumes, and no mixing of gas and oil compared to a gas chainsaw.
If you’ve looked through the stores, there are some undeniable similarities between the Greenworks 80V Chainsaw and the Kobalt 80V Chainsaw – and their entire 80V lineups. So yes, there’s some technology sharing going on. Does that make them the same exact tool? Not necessarily.
Editor’s Note: This is the original review based on our experience when the chainsaw first came out, but the ratings have been updated to reflect its performance against others its class from our recent shootout.
Kobalt 80V Chainsaw Key Features
- Powered by the industry’s highest voltage battery to date
- Brushless motor allows for greater power and motor life
- Recommended for storm cleanup and medium tree cutting
- Electronic chain brake improves user safety
- Metal wrap around handle improves durability
- Auto-oiler with oil view window helps maintain bar and chain life
- Up to 150 cuts of 4-in x 4-in pressure treated lumber on 1 charge
- 30 minute charge time with 2.0 amp hour battery
- 5-year hassle-free guarantee on tool, 3-year hassle-free guarantee on battery and charger
Kobalt 80V Chainsaw Specifications
- Power Source: 80V Max Lithium-Ion Battery
- Included Battery: (1) 2.0 Amp Hour Battery
- Bar Length: 18 Inches
- Maximum Recommended Cut Diameter: 30 Inches
- Operating Weight: 13.8 Pounds
- Price: $299.00
- Current User Rating (Lowe’s): 4.4/5 Based on 41 Reviews
Kobalt 80V Chainsaw Performance
So how does 80V translate in cutting power and performance? As an intermediate chainsaw user, I thought that it had plenty of power from some basic initial testing I put it through. It cut faster than the previous 40-volt model and had a noticeably lower kickback. The reduced kickback lowers the intimidation factor of the chainsaw when moving up 6 inches in bar length. I found it to be well balanced and easy to use. But don’t just take my word for it.
I had the opportunity to share the chainsaw with a professional Florida woodsman experienced with gas-powered chainsaws. He initially doubted that a battery-powered chainsaw would have the cutting power to handle professional tasks. After the first pass, all doubt he had was cut off (pun intended) as it went through a sizable downed pine tree. With the improved power and 18 inches of length, this chainsaw has the versatility to be used in a variety of situations.
Out on our field trip, we were able to see most of the safety features in action. The Kobalt 80V Chainsaw is equipped it with multiple safety features that even a former elementary hallway safety patrolman like myself can appreciate. Included in that group are an on/off button with audible beeps, trigger lock, and electronic chain break/guard with audible beeps – wow, my head just exploded! A cool safety feature that will also help save battery life is the automatic shut off. If the chainsaw is on idle for 15 seconds it will automatically shut off. It might bother some, but since it’s easy to turn on with a push of a button, I didn’t mind that feature at all. While in use, if a kickback or error occurs the electronic chain brake engages and stops the chain with audible beeps to notify the user that something has caused the saw to stop. We had pinched bars, idle time, kickbacks, and all of the things that make tree cutting fun – and the safety features worked flawlessly.
The only downside to a battery powered chainsaw is that the runtime is limited to the battery life. We didn’t test the full runtime, however, I’d recommend having an additional battery on hand for a full day of cutting. Like other chainsaws, I did notice some bar and chain oil leakage when stored flat side down position.
The Kobalt 80V Chainsaw was better than expected. With 80 volts, brushless motor, and an 18″ bar, it can and should be more than just a backyard chainsaw. It’s not really going to reach the professional forester. Some pro landscapers that offer tree trimming, storm cleanup, and other occasional applications will find it useful. Where I really think it’s dialed in is for the property owner that needs to maintain a large number of trees. Whether it’s general maintenance, storm prep/cleanup, or even taking down medium size trees, you won’t have to worry about how long it’s been sitting or if you remembered to winterize it. Just charge the battery and get to work.
There is no doubt that much has improved since the release of its predecessor chainsaw. It boasts a new ergonomic design, improved safety features, and of course, a lot more power. Overall, this chainsaw has features that I liked a lot – quick on/off, safety considerations, good weight/balance, and less noise compared to a gas powered chainsaw. These were enough to get my approval. The Kobalt 80V Max is definitely worth a look if you are in a market for a chainsaw to use in the backyard, and perhaps into some occasional professional use.