Are Chainsaws 2 Stroke or 4 Stroke?

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If you are going to buy a gas chainsaw, understanding the difference between 2 and 4 stroke engines will be essential. In this article we explain what a 2 and 4 stroke engine are, what chainsaws often use and how it affects performance.

Almost all chainsaws are 2 stroke because it is more powerful and faster. A 2 stroke chainsaw is also lighter than a 4 stroke and runs even when upside down.

A 2 stroke engine needs just one revolution to complete a stroke, whereas a 4 stroke requires two. A 2 stroke engine requires oil and gas to be mixed, while a 4 stroke has separate tanks for gas and oil. A 2 stroke engine is also called 2 cycle so you can use the term interchangeably.

If you want to know more about the differences between a 2 stroke and 4 stroke, please keep reading. For the rest of this article we will explain in detail why majority of chainsaws use a 2 stroke engine.

Why Most Chainsaws are 2 Stroke

If you look for a 4 stroke chainsaw today you probably won’t find any. A few might be marketed as 4 stroke or 4 cycle but it is basically just a combination of the 2 and 4 stroke engine. As long as you have to mix gas and oil it is still a 2 stroke engine. The Husqvarna 16 Inch 130 Gas Chainsaw is a great example of a quality 2-stroke chainsaw.

And as you will see, there are a lot of reasons why manufacturers and users prefer a 2 stroke over a 4 stroke.

More Power

A chainsaw running on a 2 stroke engine packs more power than a 4 stroke. If you have to cut a lot of woo, a 2 stroke is the only option. There are many types of chainsaws and configurations vary, but a 2 stroke will always have more power than a 4 stroke.

With a powerful chainsaw you can cut through any type of wood and other materials including bone. This does not mean 4 cycle engines do not have power, but 2 stroke offers much more. For professionals and power users, using a 2 stroke makes more sense.

Image: DVS

Lighter, Smaller and Faster

A 2 stroke engine is lighter than a 4 stroke, sometimes by up to 30%. A typical chainsaw weighs 10-15 lbs. but a fully loaded gas model can weigh up to 20 lbs. If that was a 4 stroke that would mean an additional 5-6 lbs.

That may not seem much but when you are cutting a tree or several pieces of wood, each pound counts. Carrying and using a chainsaw for hours during a hot summer day will take its toll so the light weight makes a difference.

A lighter smaller chainsaw is not only easier to carry but also saves room. This will come in handy if you have limited space available. Storing chainsaws vertically is another way to save storage space.

More Versatile and Faster

One of the biggest drawbacks of a 4 stroke engine is you can only use it upright. If you flip the chainsaw upside down or sideways the engine will halt. This is a huge problem because chainsaws are usually held sideways when cutting trees.

Because the chainsaw is lighter that also means it is faster. A 2 cycle chainsaw such as the Coocheer 62cc accelerates faster than a 4 stroke, and by this we mean idling to top speed. This has a huge impact on productivity and is a major benefit. If you have to cut down several pieces of wood for instance, speed is of the essence

Fewer Moving Parts

2 stroke chainsaws have fewer moving components than a 4 stroke, which offers many benefits.

  • Cheaper for manufacturers to make
  • Few moving parts means easier to care for and maintain
  • Fewer parts that could break down
  • Less replacement components needed
  • Easier to clean

A 2 stroke engine generates one stroke per crankshaft revolution. This means more power for the engine and more efficient cuts. Because the engine is made of fewer components, it is easier to use and maintain. If you are new to chainsaws or just don’t like doing tedious maintenance work, this makes a huge difference.

Having fewer parts has a positive snowball effect. First this makes the chainsaw easier and cheaper to make. The manufacturer can pass the savings on to the consumer. In addition, its simple mechanism means cleaning and maintenance will be less of a chore.

Using a 2 stroke chainsaw is easier, more efficient and will cost less. The user and the manufacturer both benefit from this.

Fuel Efficiency. One of the drawbacks with two stroke engines is the relative inefficiency compared to 4 stroke. This is changing now because chainsaw manufacturers are developing new technologies that improve fuel economy.

Older 2 stroke chainsaws are not as good in terms of fuel economy. They also produce more smoke so the spark plug and carburetor will get dirty frequently. Fortunately since they have a simpler design, cleaning and maintaining them is going to take less work.

How to Mix 2 Stroke Chainsaw Fuel

The standard fuel mix for a 2 stroke chainsaw is 50:1. That is, 2.6 ounces of oil per gallon of gas. There are pre-mixed products available as well. If you decide to do the mixing, make certain that the ratio is exactly 50:1 or whatever the manufacturer recommends in the owner’s manual.

This video shows you how to add fuel to a chainsaw.

Never run your chainsaw without mixing the fuel. Doing so will cause permanent damage because oil serves as a lubricant. An engine produces heat and friction whenever it runs, and without lubrication this will damage the components. What a lubricant does is provide protection for the pistons so they do not wear out as quickly.

If you put too much oil, the engine will smoke LNK. It looks alarming but all you have to do is let the chainsaw run until it disposes of the excess oil. Another option is to turn the chainsaw off and drain the fuel tank.

Once you have drained the oil, check the engine. The spark plug and other parts might be covered in oil and need cleanup.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a 2 stroke and 2 cycle chainsaw?

They are the same thing. 2 stroke refers to the power generated by the pistons. These terms are used interchangeably and refer to the same thing.

Which is more powerful, a 2 stroke or 4 stroke?

A 2 stroke engine is more powerful than a 4 stroke. It is also lighter and accelerates much more quickly. This is why it is practical to use a 2 stroke chainsaw and why they are very common.

What happens if I do not mix the fuel in a 2 stroke chainsaw?

In all likelihood the chainsaw will not start. Even if it doses, the engine is going to wear out quickly. The ix is important because oil lubricates the pistons and other components. All engines benefit from lubrication so you must always mix the fuel.

Why is my 2 stroke smoking?

There is too much oil in the engine. The easiest solution is to drain the excess oil or just let the chainsaw idle. Let the engine smoke the excess oil out until it has completely dissipated.

Are there any 4 stroke chainsaws?

Most chainsaws are 2 stroke. Those marketed as 4 stroke are usually a hybrid of the two.

Is it true that 2 stroke engines are louder?

Because these engines produce more power, they generate a lot more noise than a 4 stroke. This is why you should wear ear plugs when using it.

How do I know what fuel mix to use?

Majority of chainsaws use a 50:1 mix. That is equal to 2.6 ounces of oil per gallon of gas.