Professional Review of the Stihl 500i Chainsaw
To an arborist or tree service professional, equipment is everything. From the trucks that get them to the job, to the personal protection equipment (PPE) that they wear, to the harnesses they use to climb – the list of tools and equipment that gets them through the day is virtually endless.
Of course, the most important piece of equipment for anyone cutting down trees would arguably have to be none other than the chainsaw.
We recently sat down with Brazzi Smith, the owner of Live Oak, FL based Precision Tree Care and Removal to get his expert opinion on a very cool new chainsaw that he’s been using for the past few months: the Stihl 500i.
The 500i is marketed by Stihl as “the first ever chainsaw on the worldwide market with electronically controlled fuel injection”. As a result, it was highly anticipated and has been highly sought after since its release.
But just what makes this chainsaw so special? And does fuel injection really matter when it comes to the serious user such as forestry personnel or tree service professionals like Brazzi?
Check out our interview and see for yourself.
Precision Blogger: First of all, what do you look for in a chainsaw?
Brazzi: Probably the most important factor is power to weight ratio. For tree service professionals like me, you’re going to be holding your chainsaw for hours most days. Walking, climbing, bending, leaning… You want something with as much power as possible, but you can’t lug around a huge saw. At the same time, you don’t want to have to constantly switch saws. That’s why I love the 500i. It packs some serious punch at nearly 80cc so it can handle some big cuts, while being very light at just under 14 lbs.
Can you help the non professional understand what these specs mean? For instance how would a standard chainsaw compare from a power to weight ratio?
A typical consumer chainsaw like a homeowner might buy at a big box store is likely going to be just under 40cc, maybe 38cc, so about half the power of the Stihl 500i. And most consumer chainsaws are going to weigh about the same as the 500i, in the 12-14lb range.
OK, that makes sense. So you are getting roughly twice the power at about the same weight.
Exactly! You get the power of a much larger saw in a much more compact and light unit that makes tasks such as climbing or carrying it for long periods much more manageable.
So, let’s talk about fuel injection. Does it live up to all the hype?
Electronic fuel injection in a chainsaw is absolutely amazing. I think all chainsaws will eventually move to this technology.
What’s so much better about fuel injection versus a standard saw with a carburetor?
With a carbureted saw, you have to use the choke. When you are trying to crank the saw you’ll need to choke it, then maybe go to half choke. After it starts you need to adjust the choke again. If you don’t get it just right, you can easily flood the engine, which means even more time to get started and get going. As with any service business, time is money. So of course we try to avoid anything that slows us down.
Even though we are in Florida and don’t get a lot of cold weather, we do get the occasional cold morning, and cold weather makes a carburetor even more finicky and time consuming. So imagine being a tree professional up north and dealing with very cold weather. It can be a real issue.
With electronic fuel injection, all of that goes away. You simply prime it, start it, and off you go. So while it may not seem like a huge deal to the average homeowner who uses a saw a few times a year, it’s a huge deal for those of us who make our living every day using our chainsaws.
Another feature that is marketed by Stihl is the acceleration. What does this mean, and how does the 500i perform?
Think of acceleration like your car. It’s the time it takes to get up to the desired speed. In the case of chainsaws, we want maximum acceleration. In other words when we hit the throttle, we want the maximum RPMs as quickly as possible so that it cuts through the wood. We cut a ton of Live Oak trees in our area and the wood is especially tough. So we need top acceleration performance, and the 500i does a great job.
Overall, are you happy with your 500i? Would you recommend it to other tree professionals?
I love mine. It is probably too much saw and cost-prohibitive for the casual user or homeowner, but I would highly recommend the Stihl 500i to my fellow arborists, tree professionals and forestry personnel.
As you can see, Brazzi is very satisfied with his Stihl 500i. Full disclaimer: he is a self proclaimed “Stihl man” – in other words, Stihl is his preferred brand, as opposed to other professional grade brands such as Husqvarna.
Brazzi is right about the price – it’s not cheap. According to the company’s website, you can expect to pay $1289.95 for a Stihl 500i model with a 16-inch bar, or as much as $1399.95 for a model with a 36-inch bar. 18, 20, 25, 28, and 32 inch bar options are also available which speak even further to the flexibility and customization of this chainsaw.
All the same, if you are in the market for a professional grade, powerful chainsaw with an excellent power to weight ratio and the advanced technology of electronic fuel injection – look no further than the Stihl 500i.
And of course, if you need professional tree service in the Live Oak, FL area, you can trust Precision Tree Care and Removal. Give us a call today: (386) 688-5173 or fill out our service contact form.