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Chainsaw Noise: Tips from a Professional

I use my chainsaw frequently for all kinds of jobs. And this also applies to most other homeowners in my community. But despite its countless pros, one of its main drawbacks is its abnormally high noise levels. Noise pollution is a nuisance for the neighborhood and can lead to hearing loss and even hypertension. In this article, I will discuss various remedies that can help you tackle or even reduce your chainsaw’s noise levels.

Chainsaw Noise:

In general, gas-powered chainsaws are loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage. There is no practical way to reduce the chainsaw noise level through exhaust modifications. Always wear PPE such as earmuffs to protect yourself from hearing impairment. For the lowest noise level, keep your chainsaw well maintained and oiled. Electric chainsaws are quieter.

For a comprehensive understanding of chainsaw noise, I will explain why they are so noisy. What you can do to make them quit as possible is effective modifications to make them quieter. Can you add a muffler to a chainsaw? And what about electric chainsaws?

Why are Chainsaws so Loud?

Most chainsaws, particularly gas-powered, consist of a two-stroke engine that produces a higher pitched sound than four-stroke engines. Also, the exhaust noise coupled with the chain and teeth cutting through wood makes them one of the noisiest machines.

Chainsaw engines comparatively operate at higher RPMs (as high as 15,000). Also, their mufflers and exhaust pipes aren’t as sophisticated as in most automobiles. Due to these reasons, the noise levels from the engine alone sore up to deafening levels. Moreover, the guide bar vibrations and the noise of teeth cutting through the wood further add to the noise pollution. The larger the saw’s engine, the higher the noise levels are.

For most engines having mufflers, the sound intensity is around 106 decibels. On average, most chainsaws produce sound levels close to 120 dB, higher than a live concert. Typically, a conversation between several people, such as in a noisy classroom, falls around 60 dB of intensity. Sound levels at 120 dB are deemed painful, whereas those beyond 150 dB could result in hearing impairment.

Hence, prolonged exposure to chainsaws is highly likely to result in permanent hearing loss.

How can I make my Chainsaw Quieter?

Speaking of its deafening sound levels, one may wonder if there’s a way to make the chainsaw run quieter.

In general, there’s no practical way to reduce the chainsaw noise level through exhaust modifications. The most effective way is to create a barrier between yourself and the noise by wearing ear protection. Or you can use electric chainsaws instead, which are much quieter.

● 1. Limiting the noise to your ears:

If you’re working with a chainsaw for an extended period, you certainly need to safeguard your ears against the noise. I recommend investing in some good quality PPE such as earmuffs and earplugs.

Earmuffs are more suited to protect against high frequency or high-pitched noise, whereas earplugs serve better when low-frequency sounds are around. Using them in combination could effectively reduce the noise intensity by around 30-45 decibels. And if you’re someone, who has to work with chainsaws frequently, you should invest in proper protective gear to make sure your hearing isn’t impaired.

Note that the padding in most earmuffs wears out after some time, thus lowering their noise blocking capability. Hence, be sure to update them once they wear out.

● 2. Keeping your chainsaw well-maintained:

It may not seem like it, but well-oiled chainsaws and cleaned regularly are far less noisy than the seldom oiled ones. You should always ensure that the bar and chain’s oil reservoir is filled. This allows it to circulate oil between the bar and chain, thus reducing wear and lowering the chain’s noise.

Always keep your engine in good working condition by choosing the right fuel and suitable engine oil. The oil and fuel need to be mixed in a ratio of 50:1 (50 parts of a fuel dissolved in 1 part of oil). Moreover, it would be best if you routinely inspected the carburetor’s jets. Use a carb cleaner to unclog them.

● 3. Use an electric chainsaw:

Electric chainsaws have been a remarkable revelation in the power tools industry. These saws use an electric motor instead to rotate the less noisy chain than a two-stroke engine. The maximum noise levels for electric chainsaws have been recorded around 75 decibels, slightly less than the intensity at which you need PPE for ears.

Not only are electric chainsaws quieter and lightweight, but most of their models have their RPMs comparable to that of a two-stroke engine, making them a possible replacement for gas-powered saws for many jobs.

Are chainsaw modifications effective in lowering noise?

You might often find some stuff online discussing ways to modify your chainsaw’s muffler. One such method involved attaching a large hose to the chainsaw’s exhaust and dumping it off in a water body. Some sources claim that this modification works. But I have found little evidence to support this claim.

I think making a chainsaw modification is not such a good idea to counter its noise problem:

  • You might damage the exhaust: To connect your muffler with a hose place in a barrel of water places you at the risk of damaging the exhaust pipes as water might get sucked into the exhaust. This may cause additional engine problems instead of fixing the noise.
  • Bulky equipment: Attaching a large hose would indeed make your chainsaw bulky and difficult to carry out. Especially if it’s a gas-powered saw that’s already quite heavy. The hose attachment would also limit your maneuverability on the lawn.
  • You may lose the warranty: Adding any modification could render your warranty null and void if you had any.

Hence, I would say that the best course of action would be to have earplugs and earmuffs at your disposal to safeguard you from noise exposure. That will be ideal if you live in a scarcely populated area where your immediate neighbor is at least 200-300 feet away. Otherwise, I recommend investing in a good quality electric chainsaw, which I will discuss in the next section.

How Loud are Electric Chainsaws?

In comparison to gas-powered chainsaws, electric chainsaws are quieter. Although not entirely quiet, but quiet to the extent that they don’t pose hearing hazards as much as gas-powered saws do. Nevertheless, it would still be a good practice to wear earmuffs while using electric chainsaws.

In electric chainsaws, the sources of noise are the electric motor and chain cutting through wood. The electric motor is less noisy than a two-stroke engine since it runs at lower RPMs and doesn’t need any exhaust. Furthermore, using electric motor results in lesser vibrations.

Most electric chainsaws have a sound intensity falling around 80-100 decibels. In contrast, some gas-powered chainsaws go beyond 120 decibels. It is to be noted that hearing loss is dictated by prolonged exposure to specific noise intensity. A noise of 85 dB, if heard over a continuous period, can impair hearing. However, just a 2-minute exposure to noise of 110 dB can be detrimental to your hearing.

Some of the best-selling electric chainsaws with their noise levels are:

S #
Chainsaw Models
Noise levels
More information and the price
90 dB
99 dB
99 dB
92 dB
Husqvarna 120i
92.5 dB
99 dB
98 dB
100 dB
Milwaukee M18
93 dB

Can you put a Muffler on a Chainsaw?

Almost all gas-powered chainsaws come with an in-built muffler. It lowers the noise levels and provides a necessary back pressure by allowing the exhaust gases to escape.

Removing the muffler from a chainsaw: Yes, or No?

I would not advise you to take your chainsaw’s muffler off under any conditions. The muffler prevents junk and debris from entering your exhaust. Most users get tempted by the desire to maximize their engine RPMs by taking the muffler off entirely. It is also quite true to a certain extent.

However, the cons associated with this outweigh the benefits. First, you would get unbearably high noise levels by taking the muffler off, which would be nuisance for your neighborhood. Secondly, removing the muffler would expose the exhaust port to all sorts of dust. It also lowers the backpressure, which might affect your engine’s tuning.

If your chainsaw is lagging and you need to modify your muffler to crank up the RPMs, I would advise you to make some alterations in its design which are discussed below, instead of just removing it entirely. However, bear in mind that this modification would nullify your chainsaw’s warranty and raise the noise levels by some amount.

– Increase the performance of the chainsaw with this Muffler Modification:

In this muffler modification, we focus on widening the exhaust passages present in the muffler. As a result, the engine would rev up with a couple thousand more RPMs and run a bit cooler.

  • Disassemble the muffler: First, take the muffler off the exhaust port by unscrewing its bolts. Next, remove the spark arrestor screen to view the ports. If the arrestor screen appears clogged, use a torch to clean it.
  • Increase the diameters of ports: Next, you need a slightly larger drill bit to widen up the exhaust ports. Be cautious not to increase their diameter more than 1.25x initially. After doing this, rev the chainsaw by attaching the muffler and notice the increase in RPMs.

How far away can you hear a chainsaw?

The noise rating of a chainsaw is usually measured at a distance of one meter (3 feet). According to the inverse square law, the sound intensity falls by 6dB each time the distance is doubled. 6dB is 0.6 times less noise. At a distance of around 30-50 ft from the source, the noise levels are considered comparatively safer for long-term exposure.

Considering a chainsaw whose sound intensity is 90 dB measured at a 1-foot distance, so according to inverse square law, the intensity falls to 84 dB at 2ft, 78 dB at 4ft, 72 dB at 8ft, 66 dB at 16ft, and 60 dB at 30 ft. So, at a distance of 30 feet from the source, the sound intensity would be equivalent to a loud group conversation and not much harmful for hearing. Nevertheless, it’s still loud enough to be a nuisance.