In almost any market category, you’ll always find two dominant brands that work tirelessly to outperform each other in a bid to win a wider market share. In automotive, there’s Ford and Chevy, DeWalt and Bosch in household appliances and finally, there’s STIHL and Husqvarna in chainsaws. Now, if you happen to pick any experienced logger out there and ask them about their opinion regarding Stihl vs Husqvarna chainsaws, they’ll definitely admit that this topic is a classic debate whose argument has formed a wide rift among diehards.
And why is that? Well, the answer is simple. Both of these brands deliver almost identical results in terms of quality, performance, efficiency, durability, and safety just to mention a few. Due to this reason, it has become extremely difficult for loggers, especially newcomers, to choose between the Stihl and the Husqvarna chainsaws. Luckily, for you, we do understand your concern and that’s why we’ve crafted this comprehensive guide to try and bridge the rift between these two chainsaw brands by taking a closer look at the specs, features, pros, and cons.
But First, How Does a Chainsaw Work in General?
Before we get to the depth of this topic, it’s always good to start with the basics. So, how does a chainsaw work? Now, a chainsaw has many parts. However, there are those key parts that work in coordination to deliver the required output.
- So, everything starts with the fuel tank which is responsible for holding gas in chemical form. The main intention is to transform the gas from chemical energy to mechanical energy required for cutting. Most stroke engines can hold around ½ a liter of gas.
- The fuel then goes to the carburetor through the filters to mix with air.
- From here, the fuel-air mixture goes to the 2-stroke engine where it’s ignited by the spark plug. Combustion takes place here and the energy produced pushes the tiny piston back and forth (usually 1.75 inches in size with a moving distance of about 1.3 inches).
- This back and forth motion of the piston is then converted to rotational motion by a rod and crank.
- A connected drive shaft then transports this rotary motion to the clutch.
- The clutch then connects to the sprocket, which connects to the chain to spin it around the guide bar.
What Type of Chainsaws Do STIHL and Husqvarna Produce?
Although these two dominant brands are usually associated with gas-powered chainsaws, the truth is that they produce both gas-powered and electric chainsaws for professional and consumer-grade purposes.
Now, both of these chainsaws have their distinctive ups and downs. For instance, electric chainsaws are light, less costly, easy to maintain, and easy to start as compared to their gas-powered counterparts. The only downside is that they’re less powerful hence limited to perform lighter duties.
On the other hand, gas-powered chainsaws are more powerful and efficient in their cutting. They’re reliable and can get to the depth of the forest since they’re not restricted by the electric cords. The only problem is their loud noise and long starting procedure.
STIHL vs Husqvarna: Brand History
It’s no wonder that Husqvarna products have earned worldwide recognition among most power tool enthusiasts. This manufacturer has been in the business for over 320 years where they began as a firearms company back in 1689 in a Swedish town of Husqvarna.
From the 1690s, the business branched to deal with other categories besides firearms such as manufacturing power tools, motorcycles, bicycles, and sewing machines. In 1959, the company manufactured its first chainsaws, which rapidly became synonymous with the Husqvarna brand.
In 1978, Husqvarna was acquired by a giant Swedish company, Electrolux, which changed it’s weapon manufacturing tradition to specifically deal with horticultural and forestry power equipment. Since then, Husqvarna has made extensive global expansion with its tools being hugely recognized in over 100 countries.
Just like other international brands, Husqvarna has steadied its operations in different nationalities such as the USA where it manufactures high-quality chainsaws that meet the standard emission controls, not forgetting OSHA requirements.
Although Stihl doesn’t have a long rich history as Husqvarna does, it’s still impressive none the less. Coming into existence at least 2 centuries after Husqvarna, Stihl was founded in 1926 in the German city of Stuttgart. Unlike Husqvarna whose name resembles its city of origin, the Stihl brand coined its name from its initial founder, Andreas Stihl.
While Husqvarna spent the large part of their history trying their fortune in other power tools, Stihl began its chainsaw production soon after its discovery by producing electric chainsaws before moving to gas-powered chainsaws a few years later.
From the 1950s, Stihl became the first company to manufacture chainsaws intended for the consumer-grade market. Since then, the company has steadied its brand by locating its headquarters in Virginia Beach in Virginia, USA.
STIHL vs Husqvarna: Specifications
Although there are those typical specifications you’ll expect to find in any chainsaw out there, Stihl and Husqvarna have specifically marketed specs and features that keep them way apart from the rest of the competition. To keep you well informed, this section will discuss some of these convincingly unique specifications that make each of these brands superior.
- High-Tech Polymer Housing: Provides a lightweight cover that withstands high impact while still being corrosion resistant.
- IntelliCarb Compression Carburetor: Adjusts the amount of fuel-air mixture to maintain the engine’s RPM
- Easy2Start System: Provides an effortless mechanism of starting the engine.
- STIHL Quickstop Plus: This is an added braking feature that allows Stihl chainsaws to get to a sudden stop immediately the throttle is released.
- STIHL M-Tronic: Is a feature that electronically meters the fuel mixture to ensure engine efficiency such as consistent RPM.
- ElastoStart Handle: It’s designed with a shock-absorbing mechanism to reduce strain on your hands when starting the engine.
- STIHL OILMATIC Saw Chain: This is specifically made by Stihl to reduce vibration and kickback during operation. This is a smart safety feature.
- Ematic Bar: Is designed with a polymer ramp reservoir that holds lubricating oil until it’s needed by the chain.
- X-TORQ: This is a smart engine design found in all Husqvarna 2-stroke engines that lowers fuel consumption by almost 20%. It also lowers the amount of CO2 emissions by nearly 60% to comply with strict environmental regulations.
- Auto-Tune: One drawback with gas-powered chainsaws is that they’re difficult to maintain. In a bid to solve this issue, Husqvarna has added an Auto-Tune feature that automatically adjusts the engine’s fuel intake settings based on the temperature, altitude, and type of fuel you’re using.
- Smart Start: Just like in Stihl chainsaws, the Smart Start feature in Husqvarna chainsaws offers an easy way to start the engine without going through a long tiring process.
- Quick Release Air Filter: Offers a super-fast way of cleaning and replacing clogged air filters.
- Air Injection: This feature comprises of a centrifugal cleaning system that removes sawdust and other debris from the interior before getting to the air filter. This improves the life of the air filter as there’s less maintenance.
- Low-Vib: Just like the Stihl chainsaw, the Husqvarna has a low vibration mechanism that reduces chain and engine vibrations when using the chainsaw.
STIHL vs Husqvarna: Head-To-Head
Now that you’re aware of the history behind these two chainsaws, our next section is the most important as this is where we’ll see the differences, strengths, and weaknesses of these two dominant brands.
Although we can’t mention everything, we’ve generally picked several best-selling chainsaws from both brands and examined them carefully. After careful consideration, this is what we’ve put into account in this comprehensive head-to-head comparison.
1. Engine Power
When it comes to the engine power, it’s usually hard to mention which between the two is superior as both brands strive to manufacture powerful chainsaws that have enough torque to cut through branches and old tough logs. Now, when choosing a chainsaw, one factor that plays a key role is its cutting power. That’s what differentiates a residential from a commercial-grade chainsaw.
Comparing almost identical chainsaw models from these two brands, Stihl chainsaws usually have lower engine capacities as compared to Husqvarna. This is usually Stihl’s strategy to maintain their chainsaws’ low profiles in terms of lighter weight and easy maneuverability.
Since it’s a tradeoff between power and weight, the Husqvarna has the edge here as it has a more powerful engine that translates to stronger cutting power.
2. Fuel Economy
Our second feature in this long list of features is fuel economy. As we mentioned in our previous point, Stihl uses a totally different strategy to design their chainsaws as compared to Husqvarna. They keep a closer eye on the weight which has forced them to reduce the size of the engine as well as that of the fuel tank.
Although it doesn’t have a great impact on fuel economy, having to refuel your Stihl chainsaw more often might lead to higher fuel consumption, not forgetting to take longer to accomplish a task. Now, about Husqvarna, this brand doesn’t seem to care much about the weight as their chainsaws have bigger fuel tanks that can hold more fuel to accomplish a task.
Now, what sets these two apart in terms of fuel efficiency is Husqvarna’s use of an X-TORQ engine system. With this technology, all Husqvarna chainsaws have reduced fuel consumption and overall low emissions. This alone makes them a better option as compared to Stihl.
Both Stihl and Husqvarna have come a long way in reducing potential risks of injury to an operator. Apart from just meeting OSHA requirements, each of these brands has added additional safety measures to win the trust of their diehard customers across the globe.
Some of these safety features you’ll find in both Stihl and Husqvarna chainsaws include throttle lock, chain catcher, right-hand guard, quick stop control, and kickback guard. Husqvarna on its side has added an emergency shut-off that automatically shuts down the chainsaw with an easy thumb down motion.
Stihl, on the other hand, requires you to push the thumb counter upwards to activate the shut-off feature. Since this takes a slightly longer time to activate the brakes (leading to serious damages in a dangerous situation), Husqvarna’s inertia-activated brake system makes it a clear winner in this category yet again.
One area the Stihl has totally outperformed the Husqvarna chainsaw is in the price category. Now, price is one of the factors a logger must consider when purchasing a chainsaw. Although there are other cheaper options available, Stihl’s affordability alongside its quality and positive reputation has allowed it to outperform most chainsaws in the market. This is in fact one of the major factors that make Stihl the biggest competitor of Husqvarna.
5. Emissions and Air Filtration
Speaking of emissions and air filtration, both brands have done their due diligence to ensure that sawdust and wood debris don’t reach the engine whatsoever. To keep the air filters from clogging, both brands use an almost similar technique to push debris away to prevent clogging. The process of removing the air filters for cleaning and maintenance purposes is also an easy one in both models.
However, when it comes to emissions, the Husqvarna seems to outperform the Stihl slightly. That’s because of the X-TORQ Technology that cuts the machine’s emissions to nearly 60%. Since Stihl doesn’t boast a similar technology, Husqvarna emerges as a clear winner in the emissions department with a tie in the air filtration category.
6. Reputation and Brand History
Just like in our previous point, we have combined two categories here in a bid to see which of the two brands will earn the bigger piece of the cake. Now, when it comes to reputation, both of these brands have played a major role in one way or the other. Husqvarna for instance has a reputation of being diverse in its product range while Stihl has won the most poles when it comes to quality and affordability. This, therefore, makes a tie between these two brands.
However though, when it comes to their history, both the Stihl and the Husqvarna differ slightly. Now, Husqvarna might have a centuries-old tradition of manufacturing high-standard power tools. However, Stihl is the initial creator of the modern-day chainsaws making it the ultimate winner in this category.
A high-standard chainsaw requires regular maintenance to keep the various parts working perfectly while still preventing cases of injuries. Maintenance usually requires checking the brake trigger, the fuel/air filters, the handguard, the chain and chain catcher, the cooling system, and the batteries for the case of cordless versions.
From what we’ve already seen, it’s evident that Husqvarna chainsaws are more complex due to the addition of multiple safety and efficiency features. Due to this reason, maintaining these chainsaws requires a bit more attention.
Stihl chainsaws on the other hand are quite straightforward as they don’t incorporate such complex features in their systems. Since they have fewer components that require low maintenance costs, they are relatively cheaper to maintain thus making Stihl the winner.
When it comes to handling, everything melts down to your preference. If you’re using the chainsaw for light residential purposes such as clearing some branches, then the Stihl is the perfect choice as its way easier to handle thanks to its lightweight.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a heavy-duty chainsaw for commercial use, then Husqvarna is the perfect option as it has more torque and a bigger fuel tank which means you’ll use it for a longer time without refueling.
Now, although Husqvarna chainsaws are heavier than their Stihl counterparts, they have added the advantage of the anti-vibration technology that absorbs vibrations caused by the chain and the engine. This provides proper handling of the chainsaw while reducing hand-arm vibration. They also have a better self-lubrication mechanism that guarantees smoother and cleaner cuts when chopping wooden logs.
Now, the Stihl too does have the same features, especially when you consider the Ematic Bar and the ElastoStart Handle. However, since Husqvarna has more advanced features, it tends to have the upper hand here though slightly.
9. Anti-Vibration System
Next, in our long list of comparison features, we have the anti-vibration system. Now, the various anti-vibration technologies used by Stihl and Husqvarna in their chainsaws is not a marketing stunt but rather an OSHA requirement that must be adhered to at any cost
Stihl on its side uses the ElastoStart Handle that offers a brilliant shock-absorbing mechanism. On the other hand, Husqvarna has opted to add Low-Vib Technology in its line of chainsaws to absorb the engine’s vibrations.
Both of these technologies serve the critical purpose of reducing fatigue on your hands while still lowering cases of hand-arm vibration alongside other neurological effects. Due to these reasons, both brands have tied in this category.
Speaking of durability, both of these companies have a long history of quality work. However, Husqvarna has been in the power tools business for quite a long time as compared to Stihl. This alone keeps it slightly on the front line as they have a long reputation for manufacturing durable and more powerful tools as compared to Stihl. Although Stihl does have a positive reputation, they need to prove it for a bit longer to match the type of quality consistency Husqvarna has had.
STIHL vs Husqvarna: Advantages and Disadvantages
Now that we’ve already discussed a lot about Stihl and Husqvarna chainsaws, our last section will close the chapter by discussing some of the notable advantages and disadvantages of each of these two dominant brands.
- Although it’s a German-owned private business, Stihl has made a huge impact in the chainsaw business thanks to its dominant Stihl USA brand. With its headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the company has managed to manufacture high-standard chainsaws that meet both OSHA and environmental standards.
- Stihl chainsaws have a smaller fuel tank and a lighter engine making it a lightweight chainsaw alternative. This design approach makes Stihl chainsaws easy to handle and manage when cutting.
- Speaking of the price factor, we’ve already seen how affordable Stihl chainsaws are. In fact, this is one of the key factors that has made Stihl keep up the pace in the battle for dominance against Husqvarna.
- While Husqvarna’s chainsaws tend to lean more on the commercial side, Stihl’s chainsaws are less complex and easily manageable making them the best for consumer class customers.
- Finally, Stihl chainsaws tend to require less maintenance. This makes them the best for novices and beginners as you won’t have to service the chainsaw more routinely.
- Due to their small fuel tanks and engine capacity, Stihl chainsaws require regular refueling to accomplish tougher cutting tasks. Their small engines also mean less power and less torque to handle challenging duties.
- Another minor issue with Stihl chainsaws is about the safety lock mechanism in case of a kickback. While Husqvarna uses an automatic inertia-activated brake system, Stihl uses a quite slower manual brake system where you have to push the thumb counter upwards to activate it.
- Just like Stihl, Husqvarna has a long rich history that allowed them to build a positive and solid brand reputation. Since commencing its chainsaw business in 1959, they’ve continued to make a mark across the globe with high-standard chainsaws that meet customer demands.
- The Smart Start feature is a huge advantage that allows loggers to turn the chainsaw on easily. Although Stihl uses the Easy2Start System Technology, the fast and efficient Smart Start feature of the Husqvarna cannot be underestimated.
- Thanks to the X-TORQ technology, Husqvarna chainsaws are among the best when it comes to fuel economy. They’re also the best when it comes to reducing emissions making them a greener alternative besides electric/battery-powered chainsaws.
- Another advantage of Husqvarna chainsaws is their powerful engines and bigger fuel tanks. While Stihl has opted to put weight on the front line, Husqvarna has instead sacrificed weight for a more powerful engine and a bigger fuel tank that won’t require regular refueling.
- Although they have so many parts that enhance safety and efficiency, Husqvarna chainsaws demand frequent maintenance, which can be expensive to some loggers/users.
- Secondly, these chainsaws are very powerful. While this makes them the best for professionals, their hiked prices make them hard-to-get for budget customers looking to try the Husqvarna chainsaw brand.
Although Husqvarna has topped in most of these categories, we cannot declare with surety that it’s the ultimate winner. That’s because both of these brands are market leaders and clear contenders in terms of durability, reliability, and efficiency.
Stihl on one side is the father of the modern chainsaw. This brand’s chainsaws are affordable, small-sized, and have a superior low-end torque that’s enough to attract customers in the residential setting. Husqvarna on the other hand is an upcoming contender that specifically manufactures heavy-duty chainsaws with superior commercial-grade features.
With that said, the rift of which one between these two brands is the best will continue to widen as the final choice will always be in the hands of the final consumer.