Anyone who has ever used a chainsaw knows without a doubt, that they are really loud.
The people in the community always half-joke that we are actively looking for ways to actually make our chainsaws louder, not quieter. And there are some excellent reasons for that, with the most prominent one being higher performance.
But not all would agree — especially those of us with more sensitive hearing.
What is the quietеst chainsaw? The noise range of chainsaws ranges from 80 to 115 dB(A). The most quiet chainsaws are the battery-operated and electric models, which have much lower noise levels, usually in the range of 80 to 100 dB(A). The gas-powered chainsaws are the loudest, producing about 110 dB(A) on average.
But just because chainsaws are very noisy doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do about it.
So let’s take a look at how loud some of these chainsaws are, and what we can do about it.
How Loud Are Chainsaws?
Chainsaws rank among some of the loudest power tools out there. Here are some actual models and their noise levels:
|Model||Type||Noise Level (in dBA)|
|Husqvarna 560 XP||Gas||106|
|Stihl MSA 160 T||Battery||81|
|Husqvarna T536Li XP||Battery||93|
As you can see, even the smaller battery-powered saws are in the 80s, while the average noise rating is somewhere between 90 and 110 (more on this later).
Why Are Chainsaws Loud?
There are several different reasons why chainsaws are so loud. These three factors produce the most noise:
- The engine/motor
- The sawing itelf, and
- The vibrations
You probably already guessed that the engine is the main culprit. This is why gas chainsaws are so loud in comparison to the others as their engines produce the most noise on average.
The process of cutting is also going to add to the noise which is produced by the chainsaw. A chainsaw with an old chain that is not sharp and doesn’t have proper lubrication may potentially produce higher noise levels.
Vibrations, although to a much lower extent, will also add to the overall noise level. One of the reasons why electric and cordless chainsaws are much more quiet is that they will generate less vibration.
Which Chainsaw Types Are the Loudest?
Currently, we have three different types of chainsaw on the market that we can choose from.
- Gas-powered chainsaws – These are typically heavy-duty chainsaws. Consider them the big loud bully of the chainsaw community. They are super loud, and the noise they produce can vary from 106 to 117 dB.
- Electric chainsaws – Electric chainsaws are a bit more quiet in general. Since you do not have any gas-operated engine under your arms, they produce less noise typically between 90 to 102 dB on average.
- Battery-powered chainsaws – Battery-powered chainsaws are like the little brother of electric chainsaws. They are also much quieter compared to their gas-powered counterparts. The noise they produce is usually about 80 to 95 dB.
Are Loud Chainsaws Dangerous?
People are different. This holds very true when it comes to noise as well. As a matter of fact, some people may be able to withstand higher levels of noise for longer.
But regardless, prolonged exposure to extremely loud noises is undoubtedly dangerous and can lead to hearing loss. So how loud is too loud, and are our chainsaws dangerous to our hearing? Let’s find out.
As you have seen, chainsaws can be very loud – ranging from 80 to 120 decibels. For comparison, a normal conversation is about 60 decibels on average.
Sounds above 85 decibels are considered harmful by the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse.
The longer and more frequently you expose yourself to loud noises and the closer you are to the source, the more damaging the noise will be to your hearing.
Let’s take a look at some data and time frames:
- Sounds up to 70 dB are safe and you can listen to them for extended periods of time;
- Sounds at 85 dB are dangerous if you listen to them for more than 8 hours.
- Sounds at 111 dB are extremely dangerous and can lead to hearing loss in under a minute.
Interestingly enough, the loud noise from chainsaws is not only dangerous to your ears. Loud noises pose even more health risks. They can lead to:
- Stomach upset
- Heightened blood pressure, and
- Increased heart rates
If you have been exposed to loud noises, you may need to give yourself at least an 18-hour break for your hearing to recover.
How to Make Chainsaws Less Noisy?
Seeing how loud noises can negatively affect us in multiple ways, it is only natural to seek out ways to make your chainsaw less noisy.
Do Chainsaw Modifications Work?
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about the noise of your chainsaw. Admittedly, people have been exploring different ways to do that by mostly trying to modify their chainsaw (the gas-powered ones) by adding another muffler or pipe.
But that is more easily said than done.
You really need a big muffler if you want to quiet down even a small engine. And the end result will be just a really bulky and heavy chainsaw that is almost inoperable.
I wouldn’t recommend making any modifications to a new chainsaw for the following reasons:
- You are risking damaging the tool
- You are making the chainsaw big and heavy, and
- You are most likely going to lose your warranty
Interestingly enough, there are stories of people that used to quiet down their chainsaws by attaching a hose to the exhaust port and placing it into a barrel of water. But again, this is not a practical way to cut wood in your backyard.
Ultimately all of these are going to make using your chainsaw very difficult.
What Is the Right Kind of Hearing Protection
If you hearing is important to you, then the best thing you can do is use the right hearing protection.
There are different ways to protect your hearing:
- Earmuffs, and
Earplugs are the easiest and most inexpensive way to cut down on the loud noise. They can reduce the noise level by an average of 7 to 13 dB.
Earmuffs cover your ears completely. They tend to have similar noise reduction properties of 6 to 12 dB if they are a tight fit.
When you are using loud chainsaws of above 100-105 dB for prolonged periods of time, it is advisable to use both earplugs and earmuffs. Combining them can provide about 14.5 dB reduction.
And last but not least, a hardhat can also be very beneficial in providing some much-needed relief. Some helmets can provide a complex protection for both your head, eyes, and ears like the Pro Forest Helmet System from Husqvarna.
Using the Right Type of Chainsaw
And the last thing you can do is get the right kind of chainsaw.
Today the newer models that we have on the market are much more quiet. This is true even for gas-powered chainsaws, when compared to their older counterparts from several years ago.
Battery operated chainsaws are almost always going to be more quiet compared to the rest of the chainsaws, while the corded or electric chainsaws take a close second place.
For example, in one study measuring the noise levels of several Stihl chainsaws it was discovered that battery-operated chainsaw had significantly lower noise levels. Some of which were so low that it would mean you can potentially use them without any hearing protection (although, I still wouldn’t recommend doing that).
These were the MSA 160 T and the MSA 200 C, which had 79.5 dB and 82.1 dB, respectively.
And my research shows that the most quiet chainsaw so far is the Stihl MSA 160 T.
Pros and Cons of Quiet Chainsaws
Electric and cordless chainsaws are astonishing tools. They are small, mobile, and powerful. However, they do have their advantages and disadvantages.
- They are more convenient, weigh less, and are easy to use
- They are less expensive
- They require less maintenance
- They are environmentally friendly and cleaner
- The operator will not be breathing in toxic gas emissions
- And let’s not overlook the fact that a less loud chainsaw will also mean a more quiet neighborhood.
- Some models are noticeably less powerful compared to a gas-powered chainsaw. Consumer Reports have noted that some models may take 2 to 4 times as long to cut wood (I would like to point out that there are exceptions, of course).
- Your work area is going to be limited by the length of the extension cable.
- A battery-powered chainsaw can limit your effective working time, which will depend on the charge the battery holds. And an older battery will be more ineffective as well as it will have less power output.
- They may be less durable.
Resource used and further information:
● ASHA.org – Loud Noise Dangers
● The NPC’s Special Report -Is a Quiet Chainsaw an Oxymoron?
● Protectear.com – What is Noise Reduction Rating
● Study on Noise and Vibration Exposure in Conifer Cross-Cutting by Using Li-Ion Batteries and Electric Chainsaws
● Coopersafety.com – Noise Reduction Rating Explained