How To Switch From Winter Mode To Summer Mode: STIHL Hidden Feature


When the seasons change, so should the settings on your STIHL equipment. Tucked away in the robust designs of STIHL chainsaws and blowers is a clever, often overlooked feature that allows your tools to adapt seamlessly from the chill of winter to the warmth of summer.

How To Switch From Winter Mode To Summer Mode: STIHL Hidden Feature

This hidden switch is more than just a convenience—it’s a key to unlocking full efficiency and longevity from your trusted outdoor companions. Whether you’re facing a blanket of snow or basking in the summer sun, understanding how to master this subtle adjustment is essential. Let’s explore this hidden feature, transforming the way you maintain and operate your STIHL MS 290, MS 291, and STIHL blowers (BR 600, 700, and 800) throughout the seasons.

Why It Matters

Switching your chainsaw between winter and summer modes isn’t just a fancy feature—it’s about safeguarding your equipment against the extremes.

Switching between winter and summer modes significantly impacts a chainsaw’s performance:

  • Winter Mode: In colder weather, operating your chainsaw in winter mode allows some of the engine’s heat to circulate back to the carburetor area. This prevents the carburetor from freezing and ensures that the chainsaw starts easily and runs smoothly. For instance, forestry workers in northern regions have found their machines less prone to stalling and easier to start when they correctly set their chainsaws to winter mode.
  • Summer Mode: During the hotter months, shifting to summer mode helps expel excess heat away from the engine, reducing the risk of overheating. This is particularly beneficial during long cutting sessions or in areas with high ambient temperatures. Users often report that their chainsaws run cooler and more efficiently, minimizing wear and tear on critical components.

Let’s break down the steps for the Stihl MS 290 first:

Switching Modes on the Stihl MS 290

Start by removing the cover of your Stihl MS 290; simply turn the knob, lift the cover, and you’re in.

Close-up of a hand adjusting the mode on a Stihl MS 290 chainsaw

Chainsaws typically come in summer mode. You’ll recognize this by the sunshine icon on the pre-filter. In this mode, the black flap inside blocks a specific hole, ensuring the machine doesn’t overheat.

Close-up of a hand adjusting the mode on an orange Stihl MS 290 chainsaw

If you’re in a region with distinct seasons like Canada, switching modes with the onset of each significant temperature shift is wise. A good rule of thumb is to switch to winter mode when temperatures consistently drop below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).

switch to winter mode when temperatures consistently drop below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit)

Remove the spark plug boot using your chainsaw tool.

Remove the spark plug

Adjust the rubber flap. Sometimes, you might need to fully remove it before reinserting it correctly for winter mode.

adjust the rubber flap

Ensure the flap is under the specific groove on the left side to secure it in place.

ensure the flap

Flip the pre-filter so the snowflake icon is up for winter mode.


Reassemble by putting the cover back on.

Reassemble by putting the cover back on.

By adjusting to winter mode, you allow some of the engine’s hot air to circulate back to the carburetor area through the now-open hole, keeping critical components warm and reducing the risk of ice buildup.

Reverting to Summer Mode

Flip the Process

Follow the winter mode steps in reverse, ensuring the sunshine icon is up on the pre-filter and the flap blocks the hole, pushing hot air away from the engine.

Flip the Process

Dealing with the Stihl MS 291

The MS 291, while similar to its predecessor, has its quirks. The process involves loosening screws on the cover and using your chainsaw tool to adjust an orange tab inside.

This tab, like the pre-filter of the MS 290, has a snowflake and sunshine icon indicating winter and summer modes, respectively. The principle remains the same—direct or block hot air from reaching the carburetor based on the season.

Switching Summer/Winter Mode on the STIHL Blowers

Switching your STIHL blower (Models BR 600, 700, and 800c) to winter mode is a simple process that can significantly impact its performance during colder months. Before we begin, remember STIHL’s recommendation: the switch to winter mode should ideally happen when you’re consistently experiencing temperatures below 70 degrees. While I’ve made the transition a tad early for demonstration purposes, it’s wise to wait until your daily highs settle below the 70-degree mark. This ensures your blower operates efficiently without risk of overheating.

For STIHL BR 600 & 700 Blower

Locate the side panel on your blower where you’ll find a small cap or cover secured with screws. This is your gateway to the seasonal mode switch.

side panel

Remove the screws to access the interior mechanisms. Be sure to keep the screws safe for reassembly.

interior mechanisms

Upon opening the side panel and removing the air filter, you’ll spot the seasonal icons: a sun representing summer and a snowflake for winter. On the BR 700, these icons might be a bit more subtle but are nonetheless vital for the adjustment.

snowflake for winter

For the BR 700, you’ll notice a mechanism that requires loosening and adjusting. This is usually a small lever or dial near the icons.

usually a small lever

Gently adjust this mechanism to reveal a small hole, signifying the transition to winter mode. This adjustment allows the blower to draw in slightly warmer air, preventing the carburetor from freezing and maintaining optimal performance in colder temperatures.

blower to draw

For STIHL BR 800 Blower

The BR 800 simplifies the transition with a user-friendly design. Once you’ve opened the side panel, you’ll find the same seasonal icons.

BR 800 simplifies

Unlike its counterparts, the BR 800 requires just a simple push to slide the mechanism from summer (sun icon) to winter (snowflake icon) mode.

summer (sun icon) to winter (snowflake icon) mode

Once the mechanism is adjusted to reveal the winter mode icon, your BR 800 is set to tackle the cold weather.

BR 800 is set to tackle the cold weather


John M., Forestry Professional

“I’ve been in the forestry industry for over 15 years, and I can’t stress enough the importance of switching your chainsaw to the appropriate mode with the changing seasons. Last winter, I switched my Stihl MS 291 to winter mode, and it was a game-changer. Despite the freezing temperatures, my chainsaw ran smoothly, without a hitch. It was as if the cold didn’t affect it at all. This small adjustment truly extends the life of your equipment.”

Emily T., Hobbyist Woodworker

“Living in the Midwest, we get pretty intense summers and winters. After switching my MS 290 to summer mode last July, I noticed my chainsaw didn’t overheat, even after prolonged use. It was a relief knowing that I was preventing long-term damage and ensuring my safety during those long wood-cutting sessions.”

Safety Precautions

While adjusting your chainsaw for seasonal changes, safety should be your top priority. Here are some crucial safety precautions to keep in mind:

  1. Always ensure the chainsaw is turned off before you start any adjustments. This prevents accidental startups, which can lead to severe injuries.
  2. Before you begin, disconnect the spark plug boot. This is an additional safety measure to ensure that the chainsaw cannot start while you’re working on it.
  3. Even though you’re not actively cutting, it’s wise to wear protective gloves to guard against sharp components and ensure a good grip.
  4. Make sure your chainsaw is on a stable surface while you’re working on it. A stable platform prevents the chainsaw from slipping or moving unexpectedly.
  5. Always refer to your chainsaw’s user manual for specific instructions and safety warnings related to your particular model.

By understanding your chainsaw’s seasonal settings and maintaining it well, you ensure its longevity and performance. Whether you’re preparing for a cold winter’s work or gearing up for summer tasks, knowing how to switch from winter mode to summer mode is a skill that will keep your chainsaw in top shape, ready for whatever the weather throws at it. Remember, your chainsaw is an investment—treat it with care, and it will serve you well for years to come!

Related Articles:


  1. Why does STIHL recommend waiting for temperatures to consistently be below 70 degrees before switching to winter mode?
    STIHL’s recommendation is based on ensuring optimal performance and preventing overheating. The winter mode allows for slightly warmer air to circulate, preventing carburetor freezing in cold conditions. If switched too early, during warmer temps, your equipment might not cool as efficiently, leading to potential overheating.
  2. Can switching to winter mode too late or too early damage my STIHL equipment?
    Switching modes out of the recommended temperature range won’t immediately damage your equipment, but it might not operate at peak efficiency. For instance, if you switch to winter mode while it’s still warm, your blower might run hotter than ideal. Conversely, switching too late might lead to cold start issues or carburetor freezing.
  3. Is there a risk of dirt or debris entering the blower during the mode switch process?
    While the risk is minimal, especially if you’re working in a clean area, it’s always wise to ensure the area around the mode switch mechanism is clean before opening the cover. This prevents any accidental entry of debris into the sensitive parts of your equipment.
  4. I lost the screws during the process. Can I operate my STIHL blower without the side panel until I find replacements?
    It’s not recommended to operate your STIHL blower without all panels and covers securely fastened. Doing so can lead to debris entering the machine or can impact the airflow dynamics, potentially causing overheating or other mechanical issues.
  5. Can frequent switching between modes wear out the mechanism on my STIHL blower?
    STIHL equipment is designed for durability, including the mode switch mechanism. However, like any mechanical part, excessive and forceful use might lead to wear over time. It’s best to switch modes gently and only when necessary to ensure the longevity of the mechanism.
  6. How do I know if my STIHL blower is currently in winter or summer mode?
    For models like the BR 600, 700, and 800, the mode is indicated by the position of the seasonal icon (sun for summer, snowflake for winter) near the mode switch mechanism. Ensure you’re familiar with the symbols and their corresponding modes for your specific model.
  7. If temperatures fluctuate around 70 degrees, should I keep switching between modes?
    Constant switching isn’t necessary for short or slight temperature fluctuations. The 70-degree guideline is more about consistent seasonal temperatures rather than short-term weather changes.
  8. Does switching to winter mode affect the fuel efficiency of my STIHL blower?
    Winter mode primarily affects air circulation to prevent carburetor freezing and doesn’t directly impact fuel efficiency. However, maintaining the correct mode for the season ensures your machine runs optimally, which can indirectly contribute to efficient fuel use.

Jump into the conversation below! Share your insights, personal tricks, or thoughts about your chainsaw adventures. Your input is invaluable, helping fellow enthusiasts make savvy choices and master their equipment. Together, let’s carve out a space for shared wisdom and friendly advice in the world of woodcutting!

David Murray
David Murray
Forestry Author

I'm David Murry, a forestry equipment specialist with a focus on chainsaw operation. With over 13 years of experience, I've honed my skills in operating and maintaining a wide range of machinery, from chainsaws to log splitters. My passion for the outdoors and commitment to sustainable forestry drive my work, which emphasizes safety, efficiency, and staying updated with industry advancements. Additionally, I'm dedicated to sharing my expertise and promoting environmental awareness within the forestry community.


I have Stihl MS291, I didn't notice this feature lol. Thanks David!

Daniel Adams
Jake A.
February 6, 2024 12:23 pm

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