Best Chainsaw Tachometers – 2020 Review Guide

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If you know the recommended RPM for your chainsaw (which you should), the next question is how to check them.

The answer is with a tachometer (or RPM gauge). Out of the many great options, some chainsaw tachometers may be a better fit for your saw than others.

In this guide, you’ll learn about chainsaw tachs and the best available on the market.

Hoping to cut right to the chase? Below are the best tachometers for chainsaws:

  1. Husqvarna OEM Tachometer
  2. The ROP Shop Compatible Tachometer
  3. Timorn Tachometer

Comparison of the Best Chainsaw Tachometers

Product

Our Rating

​Price

Husqvarna OEM Tachometer

  • Plug and play hook up and includes cord
  • Wireless design - no need to connect wires
  • Compact and offers clear digital readings

The ROP Shop Compatible Tachometer

  • Compatible with RPM, STIHL, Poulan chainsaws
  • Waterproof and digitally back lit
  • Delivered with a long-lasting battery

Timorn Tachometer for Small Engine

  • Best for the Money
  • Suitable for all 2 Stroke & 4 Stroke gasoline engines
  • Waterproof, compact, and user-friendly

Stihl EDT 9 Chainsaw Tachometer 5910 850 1100

  • Best Stihl Chainsaw Tachometer
  • Offers wireless or wired connection
  • Works with single and dual magnet flywheels systems

AIMILAR Digital Tach Hour Meter Tachometer

  • Best Digital Tachometer for Chainsaw
  • Offers 9 programmable firing patterns and an RPM alert
  • Data retained after battery change and it's backed by a 2-year warranty

ROP Wireless Handheld Tachometer

  • Best Wireless Chainsaw Tachometer
  • Holds highest RPM until cleared
  • User-friendly and works as expected immediatey

What is a Tachometer?

Tachometers measure the working speed of an engine.

More specifically, rev-counters measure the revolutions per minute (RPM) of a motor’s shaft or disc. However, they can also measure the revolutions of any rotating object.

A good tachometer needs to be accurate, first and foremost. It also needs to be easy to use and applicable in its intended purpose.

In the case of chainsaw RPM gauges, they can’t be too bulky or need much additional equipment since you’ll often need to use them in the field.

How Does a Tachometer Work?

Depending on the type of tachometer, it can use one of several systems to measure RPM.

Chainsaw tachometers are, in practice, voltmeters that measure the number of sparks that a spark plug generates. This type of RPM gauge only works on gasoline engines, and it’s known as an induction tachometer.

Every engine has a safe operating RPM range. Going far above or below that range exposes the engine and the user to potential harm.

The safe RPM range of chainsaws varies based on the make and model. Generally speaking, chainsaws should run between 10 and 14 thousand RPM.

A tachometer is an important tool to ensure the proper functioning and extend the life of your chainsaw.

What Should I Look for When Buying a Chainsaw Tachometer?

The first thing you want in a chainsaw tachometer is a convenient size. Anything larger than a hockey puck is probably too big for your chainsaw.

Size

The right size is especially important if you plan on mounting the tach on your chainsaw. Remember that any added weight is the weight that you’re going to have to carry around when you use it.

Type

An optical tachometer won’t do because you don’t have access to the engine’s disc directly, and you won’t be taking it apart every time you need to calibrate it.

Digital RPM gauges are best for chainsaws. Mechanical tachs are more useful in situations where an engine’s RPM needs monitoring within a broad range.

Once you’ve calibrated the RPM on your chainsaw, there’s no real need to check it continually. Most gas-powered saws are either idling or throttling, and there’s not much more in between.

RPM Range

Finally, you’ll want a rev-counter that can handle the RPMs needed. For chainsaws, that may be up to 20,000 RPM. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a chainsaw that runs at a higher RPM.

Quick Take: Best ​Chainsaw Tachometers

Review of the Best Chainsaw Tachometers

Now that you know what a tachometer is and what features to look for, it’s time to check out what’s available. Each of the following tachs does a few things exceptionally, but some of them fall short in certain aspects. Use what you’ve learned to pick out the one that’s right for you.

​Best Overall:
​Husqvarna OEM Tachometer

PROS

  • Excellent reviews
  • Ideal size for field adjustments
  • Fast refresh rate (less than a second)
  • Allows antenna and clip-on readings
  • Husqvarna protection plans are available for this model

CONS

  • Non-replaceable battery

Our Review

A venerable name in power tools, Husqvarna also happens to make top-quality chainsaws.

And a pocket-sized rev-counter that has pretty much everything you’d want.

There’s no on/off button or extravagant features. Just place the indicator arrow near your spark plug while the engine is running.

If your chainsaw’s spark plug is hard to reach, you can also use an antenna to extend the sight. Simply string a wire through the double loop and place the tip near your spark plug.

It also comes with a clip that you can attach directly to the spark plug and measure the RPM that way.

The entire unit is self-contained and ready to use as soon as you take it out of the box.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

It has everything you want from a chainsaw tachometer, and none of the things you don’t. It has a durable plastic case that can take a beating, and it supports several methods to measure RPM.

​Runner-up:
​The ROP Shop Compatible Tachometer

PROS

  • It has a battery life indicator
  • Good customer support from ROP Shop
  • The LED screen is backlit, making it easier to read
  • The casing is waterproof, useful in marine applications

CONS

  • Designed for single-cylinder engines
  • ​It doesn’t support wireless use, so you need access to the spark plug boot

Our Review

This tachometer’s accuracy is outstanding, and it has a lot of features that make it a great choice.

It’s among the cheaper options, but it performs great for the price. It has a backlit LED screen, which helps when you have to work somewhere darker.

The manufacturer claims it is waterproof, and that’s an excellent addition for some applications.

It isn’t wireless. Instead, you’ll need to wrap the lead wire around your spark plug’s cable. If the spark plug boot doesn’t have much cable showing, that could be a nuisance.

It doesn’t have an on/off switch, but it does have a removable battery. If you’re concerned about battery life, you can remove it when the tach is not in use.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

The backlit screen is a nice feature that not too many rev-counters offer. It can be a godsend under the right circumstances. Also, having a battery life indicator is surprisingly useful. The last thing you need is to find out the battery’s dead after arriving at a job site.

​Best for the Money:
​Timorn Tachometer

PROS

  • It has a waterproof casing
  • Designed for two- and four-stroke engines
  • Displays hours of operation of your chainsaw
  • Small surface area makes it an ideal mounted RPM gauge

CONS

  • Not wireless, which you wouldn’t expect at this price
  • Some programming is required before you start using it

Our Review

This is a functional and practical tach at an excellent price point. It doesn’t work wirelessly, which isn’t ideal, but it’s not a huge drawback either.

The replaceable battery is a welcome feature, and it comes with a battery rated for 35,000 hours of operations.

It’s specifically designed for two-stroke and four-stroke engines, which makes it perfect for chainsaws. And, it’s waterproof so it can find a home on boats and marine applications as well.

One significant drawback that people have found is that it’s a little complicated to select the ignition type.

Small engines, such as your chainsaw, typically fire on each stroke. But that’s not always the case, and the instructions on this one are a little vague.

Some people have also found that the accuracy is a little wonky.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

The main selling point of this RPM gauge is the price, hands down. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad product. On the contrary, it works as intended, and it’s reasonably reliable. The 35,000-hour battery life is a bit of a stretch, but it’s a replaceable battery.

Best Stihl Chainsaw Tachometer​:
​Stihl EDT 9

PROS

  • It has a durable plastic casing
  • Small (about the size of a BIC lighter)
  • Exceedingly simple interface with single button operation
  • Produces highly reliable RPM readings (especially with the alligator clip)

CONS

  • The battery cannot be replaced
  • Wireless performance is there but may not be as accurate as with the clip

Our Review

Another titan of power tools and chainsaws, Stihl is considered top-of-the-line by many professionals.

Obviously not made exclusively for Stihl chainsaws, this RPM gauge is dead simple to use. All you have to do is select your ignition type and put it next to the spark plug.

It has only one button, and it takes a couple of seconds to set the ignition type. It can work wirelessly, but it’s far more accurate with a clip on the spark plug boot.

You can also use it with an antenna that threads through a molded plastic loop.

It’s small and easy to keep in your pocket so you can make adjustments on the fly if you need to.

The battery isn’t replaceable, but it’s supposed to last several years.

As useful as this rev-counter is, it may cost more than you’re willing to pay. It’s among the most expensive on the market.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

More than anything, simplicity and durability define this tachometer. The robust casing will easily resist small dents and scratches. If you can afford it, this is probably the tach you want to bring with you for everyday use on the job.

Best Digital Tachometer for Chainsaw​:
​AIMILAR Digital Tach Hour Meter​​​

PROS

  • Comes with a mounting kit
  • Readings accurate to within 10 RPM
  • Has a large screen with large, easy-to-read digits
  • It has many programming options for a variety of engines

CONS

  • ​It’s hindered by a poor battery life.

Our Review

Designed for two- and four-stroke engines, this RPM gauge comes with a mounting kit.

It has a backlit screen, and it’s on the larger side. But the size and lighting make it much easier to read.

It has nine programmable firing patterns, which is a nice addition but may not be too useful for your chainsaw.

You can also program an RPM alert – a useful feature for engines that need frequent tuning. It can also track hours of operation and has a max RPM recall function.

However, the large screen and breadth of functions deplete the battery quickly. It does have a replaceable battery, but there’s no battery included in the package.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

If you like a lot of functions on a tachometer, this is the one for you. This is a perfect rev-counter to install on an engine that you use frequently. It has many useful features that can help you keep an engine healthy and go beyond just one-time RPM readings.

Best ​Wireless Tachometer for Chainsaw​:
​The ROP Shop Wireless Handheld Tachometer

PROS

  • ​Single-button operation
  • ​It has a large, easy to read display
  • ​Supports three different types of ignition
  • ​Refresh rate is far below average (under half a second)

CONS

  • ​Only supports wireless use. It’s fairly reliable, but the lack of antenna can be an issue if you want a mounted revolution meter.

Our Review

As the name implies, this revolution counter only operates wirelessly. There’s no lead wire or clip because it doesn’t support them at all.

That’s not necessarily bad, but you might want something more accurate for shop work. It’s perfect for tuning in the field though.

There isn’t much to fiddle with on it, save for one button that turns it on and selects the RPM and ignition type.

The default setting is one spark per revolution, so you should be able to use it as it is out of the box.

It displays up to 20,000 RPM, so it should easily handle chainsaws and other small power tools.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

This is one of the best wireless tachs around. It has a fast refresh rate and doesn’t need too much attention past replacing the battery once every blue moon.

​Benefits of Chainsaw Tachometers

There’s no denying that chainsaw RPM gauges are a useful addition to your toolkit. However, that doesn’t mean there are no drawbacks to using them.

​Benefits

​Clearly, the main benefit of using a tachometer is to read your chainsaw’s RPM. That’s a crucial piece of information because an engine that runs too fast can burn out.

But that’s just when you’re calibrating the chainsaw in the shop. You can also install a tach on your saw for continual monitoring.

The benefit of an installed tach is that you can see exactly when you need to perform some preventative maintenance on the saw. You will also learn how your saw behaves over time. That is, how often you need to be thinking about calibration.

Some rev-counters also track the engine’s hours of operation. That’s useful because you can keep close track of maintenance schedules.

For instance, if your engine needs an oil change every (say) 500 hours of operation, you’ll know precisely when that is. Or, you can figure out your chainsaw’s fuel consumption if you’re so inclined.

​Drawbacks

​The one drawback that can arise is becoming too reliant on the tachometer. You should have a general ear for how your engine performs as well. That skill won’t develop if you’re always looking at an RPM gauge.

When Would I Use a Chainsaw Tachometer?

Tachometers help you to do three things:

​Calibrate RPM on Your Chainsaw

With a revolution gauge, you can measure the RPM that your chainsaw operates at. Your engine has a recommended idling RPM and full-speed RPM. The tach helps you set your actual RPM to those ideal numbers.

​Keep Track of RPM as You Work

With a tachometer attached to your saw, you can see the RPM in real-time. As the RPMs start to run a little higher or lower than normal, you’ll know right away.

Then, you can take it into the shop or adjust it in the field.

​Tuning Your Carburetor

If your carburetor is giving you trouble, this will reflect on the RPM of your chainsaw.

The carburetor’s mix will work ideally for a set RPM. If you’re in the recommended RPM for the machine but the mix is off, the carburetor needs adjusting.

How to Use a Chainsaw Tachometer

Using a chainsaw RPM gauge is generally straightforward.

In this list, you’ll find exclusively digital tachometers – which are highly recommended. For a wireless rev-counter, follow these steps:

  1. Start your chainsaw and let it run for a few minutes to warm up.
  2. Turn on the tachometer, if it has an on/off button.
  3. Place the arrow indicator on the tachometer close to the spark plug on your chainsaw while idling.
  4. Note the RPM – this is your idle RPM.
  5. With the tachometer near the spark plug, throttle the saw.
  6. Throttle for a few seconds at a time until you reach the max RPM reading.
  7. Note your high-speed RPM at no load.

Once you know what the revolutions are, you can go on to correct them. Use a screwdriver to tune your speed screws up or down as needed. Your goal is to reach an air-fuel ratio that gives you the recommended RPM.

Always use your manufacturer’s recommended RPM rather than third-party advice. Use the video below to help you follow the steps.

​Conclusion

As you can see, RPM gauges are an invaluable tool to keep your chainsaw healthy. They’re simple and easy to use and will pay for themselves over and over.

The critical thing you want from a chainsaw tachometer is convenience. Don’t buy a big fancy tachometer if you’re not going to use all the features you pay for.

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People Also Ask

Tachometers aren’t all that complicated, but they’re not as well-known as other tools. So, many questions keep coming up about them. Below, you’ll find answers to some basic questions about what chainsaw tachometers are and what they do.

What Does a Tachometer Measure?

Tachometers measure the working speed of an engine as measured in revolutions per minute (RPM).

How Do I Know What RPM My Chainsaw Is?

Start the chainsaw and use a rev-counter to measure its RPM at idle. Then, throttle the saw and measure the RPM at high speed. Use that RPM against benchmarks for your model of saw.

How Do I Re-calibrate My Tachometer?

It depends on the model of the tachometer. Since induction RPM gauges use voltage to measure RPMs, you can use a process calibrator to adjust them. However, small chainsaw tachometers often don’t have the option for calibration.

How Much Does a Chainsaw Tachometer Cost?

A typical chainsaw tachometer will run about $20 to more than $100. Higher prices don’t necessarily mean more features but often denote better quality.