Interview with KWF: Chainsaw protection when using an electric chainsaw

As part of the worldwide tendency of switching to electric alternatives, we are all familiar to electric cars and lawn mowers, for example. But have you already tried electric corded or battery chainsaws? In this interview with Lars Nick of the KWF, we discuss a couple of topics that might be of interest when you consider buying one.

Nick Lars is PPE certifier at the Kuratorium für Waldarbeit und Forsttechnik (KWF). There is a very good cooperation between KWF and SIP Protection, as we share the same quality and safety standards.

Have you compared combustion, battery and electric corded chainsaws?

Nick Lars: Yes, we have done two consecutive researches on the ‘influence of the engine to the safety property of PPE for users of hand- held chainsaws.’ We have compared combustion chainsaws with battery powered chainsaws and electric corded chainsaws. They all have a comparable power when it comes to cutting performance in timber.

What were the results of the tests on a test rig?

Nick Lars: It showed that the higher the cutting speed is in timber or the more aggressive the chainsaw is to the timber, the less aggressive to the PPE. This is quite a surprising result. The electric corded chainsaws could cut through the PPE easier than combustion chainsaws of the same ‘power class’.

At the same time, the battery-powered chainsaws didn’t cut through the PPE easily, even though all tests have been done with chainsaws of a similar cutting performance. In addition, the cabled chainsaw in the test wasn’t stopped by the protective yarns, but it was stopped manually.

What is the consequence of these extraordinary findings?

Nick Lars: The risk is that, in the future, if the battery-powered chainsaws have a similar performance as 3-4 kW combustion chainsaws, they will be used too for debranching trees. This might increase the number of cut injuries.

Have advantages of using electric chainsaws been identified?

Nick Lars: We have discussed this topic with some manufacturers of chainsaws and PPE like yours. These experts agreed that there certainly are advantages of electric chainsaws.

Often, the speed of battery-chainsaws is lower than of combustion chainsaws, as the engine doesn’t need the same rotation speed to generate the power. Thanks to that, the propensity to strike back – like the kick-back- might be reduced and a failure of the PPE is often caused by the energy or “moving speed” with which the driven chainsaw crashes into the PPE.

Furthermore, the electric chainsaws do have an active stop mechanism when the power button is released – for example in case of an accident. This obviously is entirely different for combustion chainsaws.

Does this stop mechanism help lower the number of expected chainsaw injuries?

Nick Lars: Yes, it is one of the main factors that make the experts believe that there won’t be more injuries in the future. They believe that if the battery-driven chainsaws become more powerful and thus accessible for forest work with a higher risk – such as debranching trees- the stop mechanism will help prevent injuries.

Obviously, this evolution needs to be monitored carefully and further research is definitely necessary.