How Much Horsepower Does a Chainsaw Have?

Homeowner chainsaws typically have 1.5 to 3 horsepower, while larger woodcutting chainsaws fall in the 3 to 4 horsepower range. Professional chainsaws, built for heavy-duty and demanding work, boast the highest power, ranging from 4 to 8 horsepower.

I’m Sam, and I’ve been rocking chainsaws for over two decades. In this article, I’m spilling all the chainsaw horsepower beans. 

Ready? Let’s roll!

What Does Horsepower Mean?

Horsepower (HP) refers to the amount of power an engine produces. It’s commonly used to measure the strength and capability of engines in vehicles.

Way back in the 18th century, a dude named James Watt, who was into steam engines needed a way to sell his steam engines to people who were more familiar with horses than machines. 

To make it relatable, he came up with the concept of horsepower.

Now, here’s the fun part: 

One horsepower doesn’t mean there’s a tiny horse running on a treadmill inside your car engine or anything. 

Nope, it’s just a unit of power that Mr. Watt used to describe how much work his steam engines could do compared to, you guessed it, a horse.

Today, horsepower is still widely used as a unit of measurement for internal combustion engines, including chainsaws.

It’s calculated through the power needed to lift 550 pounds one foot in one second.

1 HP = 550 ft.lbf/s (746 watts, in electrical terms)

Bhp VS Hp

You might have noticed that some brands including STIHL usually refer to “BHP”, while others use just “HP”. So, what’s the difference?

Well, here’s what you need to know:

When we talk about HP, we’re usually referring to the power the engine produces before any losses occur due to things like friction or inefficiencies in the transmission.

But BHP (Brake Horsepower), takes into account these losses and gives you a more accurate measurement. It’s like the real-world power that your saw’s engine delivers to the chain. That’s why, it’s a bit less than HP.

1 HP = 0.98 BHP

How Much Horsepower Do Homeowner Chainsaws Have?

To give you a clear idea, I’ve divided the chainsaws into three categories:

  1. Homeowner chainsaws
  2. Larger woodcutting chainsaws
  3. Professional chainsaws

Homeowner chainsaws typically range from 1.5-2.5 HP, while some higher-end models can reach up to 3 HP

This is enough for most basic tasks such as pruning, cutting fallen limbs, trimming trees, or household maintenance.

Below are some popular homeowner chainsaws and their respective horsepower:

ModelPower Output
Stihl MS 1701.7 hp
Stihl MS 1802.0 hp
Stihl MS 194 C-E1.8 hp
Husqvarna 1302.0 hp
Husqvarna 1352.1 hp
Husqvarna 4352.2 hp
Husqvarna 4402.4 hp
Stihl MS 201 C-EM2.4 hp
Stihl MS 2112.3 hp
Stihl MS 2503.0 hp
Husqvarna 4452.8 hp
Husqvarna 4503.2 hp

How Much Horsepower Do Larger Woodcutting Chainsaws Have?

Larger woodcutting chainsaws range between 3-4 HP. These chainsaws are mainly used for cutting thick logs, felling trees, and milling large wood. 

They are used by farmers, ranchers, firewood businesses, and homeowners with large properties.

Here are some larger woodcutting chainsaws and their horsepower:

ModelPower Output
Stihl MS 2614.0 hp
Stihl MS 2713.5 hp
Stihl MS 2913.5 hp
Husqvarna 4553.5 hp
Husqvarna 4603.6 hp
Husqvarna 5453.6 hp
Stihl MS 3114.2 hp
Husqvarna 4654.2 hp
Husqvarna 5554.16 hp

How Much Horsepower Do Professional Chainsaws Have?

Professional chainsaws are the most powerful and heavy-duty, usually 4-8 HP. Professional arborists and tree-cutting services mainly use these chainsaws.

To be honest, It requires some serious skills to handle these saws due to their high power and weight.

Below are some of the most powerful professional chainsaws and their horsepower:

ModelPower Output
Stihl MS 4616.0 hp
Stihl MS 462 C-M6.0 hp
Stihl MS 500i6.7 hp
Stihl MS 6617.2 hp
Husqvarna 592 XP7.6 hp
Husqvarna 390 XP6.5 hp
Stihl MS 8808.6 hp
Stihl MS 8818.6 hp
Husqvarna 3120 XP8.3 hp
Stihl MS 3624.7 hp
Stihl MS 362 C-M4.7 hp
Stihl MS 3914.4 hp
Stihl MS 400 C-M5.4 hp

Chainsaw Engine Size VS Horsepower

YES, there’s a clear correlation between engine size and horsepower. Chainsaws with a larger engine size usually have more horsepower.

Here’s a chart for reference:

Engine SizePower Output (Avg.)
24 cc1.4 hp
30 cc1.7 hp
32 cc2.0 hp
36 cc2.4 hp
38 cc2.4 hp
40 cc2.6 hp
45 cc3.0 hp
50 cc3.6 hp
55 cc3.6 hp
60 cc4.0 hp
62 cc4.2 hp
64 cc4.4 hp
70 cc5.0 hp
72 cc6.0 hp
80 cc6.5 hp
88 cc6.7 hp
92 cc7.2 hp
118 cc8.3 hp
122 cc8.6 hp

But, the horsepower rating isn’t always directly proportional to the engine size!

With improved combustion processes, better fuel injection systems, and a more efficient design, some chainsaws can achieve higher horsepower with a relatively smaller cc engine.

Does Chainsaw Horsepower Matter?

YES, horsepower matters because it determines how much cutting power your chainsaw packs.

Now, why does that matter?

Well, if you’re tackling big, gnarly logs or dense wood, you’ll want a chainsaw with a bit more horsepower to make the job easier.

On the flip side, for lighter tasks like pruning or small DIY projects, a lower-horsepower chainsaw might be all you need.

Remember, it’s not just about having the most horsepower; it’s about having the right amount for the job at hand.

Too much can be overkill for simple tasks, and too little might leave you struggling with tougher cuts.

Related F.A.Q.s

Does One Horsepower Equal to One Horse?

NO, one horsepower doesn’t mean there’s a horse running inside your chainsaw. It’s a simple unit of measurement used to describe the power output of an engine.

What Chainsaw Has the Most Horsepower?

With a rating of 8.6 HP, STIHL 881 MAGNUM is the most powerful chainsaw on the market. The runner-up is the Husqvarna 3120XP with a rating of 8.3 HP.

What Horsepower Does My Chainsaw Have?

Check your saw’s user manual for the exact horsepower rating. It should be listed as either brake horsepower (BHP) or horsepower (HP). If you can’t find the manual, google “[Your saw model] hp” to find the horsepower of your chainsaw.

Can I Increase My Chainsaw's Horsepower?

YES, it’s possible to increase your chainsaw’s horsepower a bit by modifying the engine, but it’s not recommended for beginners. Plus, doing so can void your saw’s warranty and may cause damage or safety issues.

Samuel Anali

Hey there! My name is Sam, and I'm the NERD behind this site. I'm an avid chainsaw enthusiast, and I've been tinkering with them since I was 17 (it's almost 20 years now!).

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