Whether you are a professional carpenter or contractor, or a home hobbyist and DIY kind of person, a circular saw always comes in handy. After all, it can be used for many different tasks. The question here is whether you should be getting a corded or a cordless one.
Below, let’s do a side by side comparison to figure out which is the better option for you.
The Main Advantage of Corded Circular Saws
The main advantage that corded circular saws bring to the table is the fact that you never have to worry about the batteries dying. Now, this might not be a big deal if you just need to make a few cuts here and there. However, if you are a professional or working on a big project, and you need to make lots of cuts all day long, then a corded circular saw comes in really handy.
With cordless saws, you are very limited by battery life. You don’t want your saw dying just a couple of hours into the workday, and this is why the corded option is great for long-term and continuous use. As long as you have a power outlet, you can keep using it all day long.
The other main benefit of corded circular saws is that they generally have more power than the cordless variety. Moreover, when cordless saws begin to die (when their batteries start to run out), they lose a lot of their power, and this means that they aren’t ideal for heavy-duty applications.
Thanks to being plugged into a power supply, corded circular saws have a constant supply of power, which means that they themselves always function at max capacity and speed, thus making them ideal for big jobs.
The Main Advantage of Cordless Circular Saws
When it comes to cordless circular saws, their main advantage has to do with portability. With a corded circular saw, you do always have to make sure that you have a power outlet nearby or a super long extension cord to plug into a far-off power supply. While this is great for getting a never-ending power supply, it does also limit you.
On the other hand, with a cordless circular saw, as long as the battery is charged, you can use it at any time and at any place, all without ever having to worry about that battery dying.
The other main advantage that you get with battery-powered circular saws is that depending on the brand and make, the battery required for the saw will also work with many other tools from that same brand. Many brands have cross-compatible battery-powered tools, where a single battery can be used for dozens of power tools. That is a pretty big advantage no doubt.
Corded vs. Cordless Circular Saws: Other Considerations
Above, we have described what the main advantages of both types of circular saws are, but there are other factors to consider as well. Let’s take a look at the additional differences between corded and cordless circular saws.
Size and Weight
One main difference that you will see between these two types of circular saws has to do with their size and weight. On average, you can expect a corded circular saw to weigh anywhere from 7 to 10 pounds. However, the battery in a cordless saw adds a bit of weight to this.
Now, although the battery doesn’t weigh a huge amount, you can expect it to weigh about a pound. Therefore, corded circular saws are easier to hold and easier to use for a longer period of time without fatiguing. They’re a fair bit lighter in weight, and this quite the advantage, especially if you need to use your saw all day long.
On a related note, due to the battery being present in a cordless circular saw, they are also a bit bulkier and larger. Simply put, that battery requires space.
This point is related to the previous one, the simple fact of the matter is that cordless circular saws are a bit heavier and larger than corded circular saws. Of course, this makes cordless saws a bit harder to use, particularly over extended periods of time.
It’s just harder to use a heavier and bigger saw. This is also the case when it comes to operating in tight spaces. Due to the smaller size of the corded variety, they can fit in tighter spaces than cordless circular saws. When all is said and done, corded circular saws are more maneuverable and easier to handle.
Of course, the flipside of that is that with a corded saw you always have to watch the cable and make sure you don’t cut through it.
Battery-Life and Lifespan
Yet another main difference to consider here has to do with the overall lifespan of these tools. This can be divided into two sections. First off, when it comes to cordless saws, even with the best ones, you can expect them to last anywhere from 60 to 120 minutes on a single battery charge.
While this is fine for light and occasional work, it certainly is not ideal for people who need their saw all day long, such as a carpenter or contractor. Sure, with a corded saw you do have to worry about finding a place to plug it in, but as long as you have that power source, it won’t ever die on you.
Second, in terms of the overall lifespan, keep in mind that batteries don’t last forever. Most power tool batteries can function for 500 to 800 cycles. This means that eventually, they just won’t hold a charge anymore, and the battery will need to be replaced. It’s a problem that corded circular saws don’t face.
A big advantage that you get with cordless circular saws, if you get the right one, is that you might be able to use that same battery for a variety of tools, potentially dozens or even hundreds of them. Some brands have special battery systems where a single battery is cross-compatible with many different tools. Therefore, all you need to operate these tools is a single battery, or maybe a couple of them if you are worried about the battery dying.
There is a trade-off to think about, though, and this is that with cordless tools, as soon as that battery starts to deplete, they start to lose power. A circular saw with 50% battery life is going to lose a lot of power and spin much slower. Therefore, if you need to do a lot of big cuts, and you are working with tough materials, the corded saw has a clear advantage.
Something else to consider here is the cost of these circular saws. Due to the added components, such as the battery and the battery receptacle in a cordless circular saw, it is going to cost more than the corded variety.
There are more materials and more advanced technology involved with cordless saws, and due to the fact that many people consider them to be so convenient, they end up being a fair bit more costly than the corded variety.
Which One to Get?
In terms of a final decision, it’s really a matter of personal preference and needs. If you need a saw to make a few relatively small cuts here and there, and you don’t want to have to worry about plugging it in, then the cordless variety is probably best.
However, if you are a contractor or someone of that nature, and you need a saw that you can use from morning until night, then the lighter and more maneuverable corded saw with a never-ending power supply is best. Sure, if you are worried about cordless saws running out of juice, you can always buy another battery or two as a backup, but there is a certain cost involved there.
At the end of the day, both cordless and corded circular saws have their specific pros and cons. It is now up to you to figure out what benefits suit you best and what your needs are. Once you figure out what you need, the choice will be obvious.
If you need some help with choosing the right model, check my guide to the best circular saws.