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Makita XCU03PT1 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 14" Chain Saw Kit with, 4 Batteries (5.0Ah)
|Item Dimensions LxWxH||10.63 x 22.24 x 10.59 inches|
|Power Source||Battery Powered|
About this item
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- Makita-built outer rotor BL Brushless motor direct-drive system provides high power efficiency equivalent to a 32cc gas chain saw
- Variable speed trigger and high chain speed (0-3, 940 FPM) For improved cutting performance
- "Tool-less" chain adjustment for convenient operation and maintenance. Chain pitch: 3/8 inch
- Built-in lock-off lever helps prevent the chain from accidentally engaging. Large oil filling port with view window allows operator to easily add and check bar oil level
- Built-in L. E. D. On/off switch with auto power-off function; automatically shuts the saw off when operation is delayed for extended battery life
- Two 18V LXT Lithium-Ion batteries deliver power and performance without leaving the 18V LXT platform
- Low noise level and zero emissions for operator comfort
- Features Extreme Protection Technology (XPT) which is engineered to provide increased dust and water resistance in harsh job site conditions
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|Sold By||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||Amazon Warehouse||Amazon.com|
|Are batteries included?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Are batteries required?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Item Dimensions||10.63 x 22.24 x 10.59 inches||10.63 x 22.24 x 10.59 inches||9.41 x 15.16 x 9.17 inches||18.00 x 37.50 x 10.50 inches||31.00 x 9.00 x 8.50 inches|
|Power Source||Battery Powered||Battery Powered||Battery Powered||Corded Electric||Battery Powered|
|Size||4 Batteries (5.0Ah)||—||—||1 pack||4Ah Battery and Charger|
Landscapers & contractors are demanding more cordless alternatives to corded & gas-powered outdoor power equipment. Makita is meeting demand with an expanding line of cordless OPE, including the 18V x2 LXT (36V) Brushless chain saw kit (model XCU03PT1). With zero emissions, lower noise, & considerably less maintenance, the chain saw is a welcome solution for cutting & trimming applications. It's powered by two 18V LXT batteries for 36V power & run time, but without leaving the strongly-preferred 18V battery platform. & with the efficient Makita outer rotor Brushless motor with direct drive system, users get high power efficiency that is equivalent to a gas chain saw. The chain saw has a 14" Guide bar & the Makita-built motor with variable speed delivers 0-3, 940 FPM For increased cutting speed, but with less noise (only 100dB(A)). It has zero emissions & reduced maintenance: there's no engine oil to change, no spark plug to replace, & no air filter or muffler to clean. & there's no need to drain the fuel for storage. Simply pick it up, load two 18V LXT Lithium-Ion batteries, & the saw is ready to use. Convenience features include a "tool-less" Chain adjustments, A front hand guard engineered to actuate chain brake When engaged, an electric brake for maximum productivity, & more. Model XCU03PT1 is a kit & includes the chain saw, four fast-charging 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 5 0Ah batteries & an efficient 18V Dual Port Rapid Optimum Charger.
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In and of itself, the power switch would not be much of a problem, except that it has an auto-shutoff feature that deactivates the unit after 4 seconds of non-use. 4 seconds!!! At first I thought this would just be a minor bother to press the power switch, but in practice I found it quite frustrating to have to press it every time I moved to make another cut, especially wearing heavy work gloves. What I found myself doing to compensate for this problem was to keep pressing the tool trigger (revving the motor) every 2-3 seconds, which prevents a time out. However, this "solution" results in the saw blade spinning (dangerously) while I am moving. This is clearly a safety hazard. Further, I found that I tend to rush to get into position to prevent the saw from timing out - another safety hazard. And, it seems to me that pressing the trigger every 2-3 seconds would drain the battery prematurely. So, as a result of this new "safety" feature, this tool is actually far more dangerous than my other power tools.
This defect was so serious that I contacted Makita tech support. I explained the situation and was informed that my unit must be defective, as this chainsaw was designed to auto power off after 1-2 minutes, and not after only 4 seconds (ahh, that makes more sense). Makita support recommended I return that defective unit and replace it. Several days later the new unit arrived, and I anxiously tested it. Same thing! Powers off after 4 seconds. Disappointed, I again contacted Makita and a different rep told me that the unit is designed to auto shutoff after only a few seconds. He said it was indeed a new "safety" feature, and could not be changed by the user. Of course, I explained experience and safety concerns with the unit, and suggested Makita change the timeout interval to at least 15 seconds. He didn't seem inclined to take my concerns seriously, and we agreed I should just return the second unit as well.
Following this disappointing development, and upon learning that the new "feature" was not actually a power switch, but a safety switch, I looked for ways to possible override it while in use. I considered opening it up and trying to wire around the switch, but decided that I was better off just continuing to use my very functional XCU02 chainsaw, and my Stihl gas chainsaw. However, after playing around with various switch combinations on this new chainsaw, I discovered that if you continue to hold down the trigger release lever in the top of the handle, the unit will not power off until after 60 seconds! That is actually a most helpful discovery, as once I practiced not letting off the release lever between cuts, the new unit was almost as good as it should have been designed originally. I do find that I still accidentally release the lever and have to interrupt my progress to reactivate the safety switch. Nonetheless, I find I no longer needlessly pressing the trigger between cuts.
However, I discovered all this quite by accident. Neither the Owner's Manual nor Tech support informed me of this option, which is an oversight. I have no doubt that there are many users who are unaware of this function and who find it necessary to "rev" the saw between cuts to keep it from timing out. Makita should at the minimum revise the manual, and preferably revise the design to allow at least 15 seconds before the unit times out.
Otherwise, this is a nice chainsaw, which I plan to keep a few days longer to evaluate further. I do note that unlike the XCU02, the XCU03 seems to have very poor low end torque. Mine stalls if I don't fully rev it up before engaging the balde in the wood. In fact, this chainsaw behaves far more like my gasoline chainsaw, which also has the internal combustion engine's poor low end torque. This unit also seems to have a much shorter battery life that the XCU02, despite having a brushless motor (which may explain the low torque compared to the brushed motor). I got about 45 minutes of useful life from the XCU03 with new 5ah batteries (the XCU02 would run for at least twice that long on the same batteries). However, in fairness, the 03 cuts much faster and therefore consumes power more aggressively.
I will update this review as I learn more, but wanted to make potential buyers (and possibly existing users) aware of the safety issues and possible works arounds, as well as flagging to Makita the need to address this problem in the existing units.
UPDATE: After using this replacement saw for another week, I have returned it. I had hoped that I could remedy the "safety" switch issue by simply holding down the trigger lock. But, what I found in practice is that I have to release my right hand to adjust the log for the next cut, or to move branches away for the next cut, and of course thus results in the tool timing out. I got so frustrated that I just taped the trigger lock closed, which worked fine and made the saw very useable. However, this is in itself a larger safety issue. And, despite this temporary improvement, I found that more often that not I reached for the smaller XCU02 saw to cut everything under 4-5", especially as it has far better torque than the 03. Moreover, my wife greatly prefers the 02 because it is more compact and easier to handle.
Interestingly, I just bought one of Makita's larger battery string trimmers, which has a power switch system very similar to the XCU03 chainsaw's. However, the trimmer switch times out after one minute (vs 4 seconds), which makes it perfectly safe and useable.
In summary, until Makita corrects the power switch problem, I cannot recommend this saw. Once Makita fixes the switch issue, this chainsaw will be useful as a replacement for my smaller gas chainsaws, as it does cut fast.
I bought the new XCU03 because I wanted more power and the longer 14" bar. Please note also that Makita claims the XCU03 will fit a 16" bar as well, as an option. I used the standard 14".
While it does indeed have substantially more power and chain speed, in my opinion the XCU03 has two fatal flaws:
1. The first is that, after using for approx. 2 hours, I could no longer get the tool-less chain adjuster to securely clamp the bar in place. No matter how I adjusted it, I could not get the bar locked in firmly. Again, I'm very familiar with Makita's tool-less adjustment system and my best guess is there may be a flaw here. I felt the lack of secure clamping was a safety hazard. I'd suggest using more metal in these critical parts.
2. I used only Makita's 5Ah and 6Ah batteries with this saw, and the saw drained the batteries much too quickly for any sort of practical use. I did not specifically measure the time it took to drain the batteries, but my impression was that it drives batteries down in less than half the time when compared with the XCU02. Even if you run two sets of batteries as I do, existing Makita batteries are simply inadequate. I would wait until Makita comes out with 10 Ah (or higher) batteries before buying this model.
Lesser, non-fatal flaws:
1. As other reviews have noted, the new LED on/off switch is a hassle to use. It is there to extend battery life, but interrupts workflow and is hard to operate while wearing gloves. And who uses a chainsaw without heavy gloves.
2. As with other Makita chainsaws, the tool-less chain adjustment could be made easier, perhaps by making the paddles on the adjusting wheel just a bit longer, and maybe rubberizing them.
3. These electrics are now getting powerful enough that makers should be making more parts out of metal, rather than plastic. This is especially true for clamping and adjusting hardware.
4. I had trouble finding the sweet-spot for the bar-oil adjustment screw. I did not have the tool long enough to dial that in, but given the increased power and RPMs of this saw, be generous with the oil.
1. This is a significant improvement in terms of power over the XCU02 BUT I wouldn't buy this one until Makita comes out with batteries that can handle the additional power needs of this tool. Once bigger batteries come out, this saw could really be a beast.
2. I continue to use the XCU 02 and recommend it for both limb-trimming and tree-removal. I use it pretty easily on wood up to 10" diameter.
3. Keep the chain sharp. A sharp chain will make all the difference with either the XCU02 or XCU03.
4. A good source for replacement chains for Makita electrics is Frawley's Chain Shop, online at loggerchain dot com.