Choosing the wrong lift can cause delays, increases costs and the potential for an accident. This article explains the most common types of aerial lifts, the pros and cons of each and how to choose the right aerial lift equipment for your job.To narrow down which aerial lift is the right choice for your application, there are three main questions to answer:
- How much weight do you need to lift (aka lift capacity)?
- How high or how far do you need to reach?
- Will the equipment be used indoors or outdoors?
What Lift Capacity Do You Need?
Choose an aerial lift with enough capacity to lift the worker(s), their tools and any materials.
- Man lifts, also known as vertical mast lifts or stock pickers, are the least expensive option. But, they have the lowest capacities, 300-500 pounds.
- Articulating and telescopic boom lifts can generally handle 500-1000 pounds
- If your job requires more than one team member, a scissor lift is likely the best choice. Scissor lifts are designed to lift more than one person and have an unrestricted weight capacity of up to 1,000 pounds
How High or How Far Do You Need to Reach?
Man lifts are a good choice for indoor, direct-access overhead work up to about 30 feet. If you have multiple workers or a heavy load, a scissor lift is a stable, portable choice for jobs up to about 40 feet.
If you need a lift that can put workers 40 feet or higher, or reach over or under an obstacle, an articulating or telescopic boom lift is the best choice. Articulating boom lifts utilize a hydraulic arm to position workers up and over (or over and under) obstacles up to 185 feet. Telescopic boom lifts offer less maneuverability, but greater horizontal reach.
Indoors or Outdoors
Indoors: vertical mast lifts (aka man lifts) have non-marking tires and are designed for indoor work. Electric scissor lifts are exhaust-free, won’t damage floors and some are made to fit through standard doorways.
Outdoors: rough terrain scissor lifts are made for outdoor use with rugged tires and 25% gradeability. Boom lifts, whether articulating or telescopic, are designed to work outdoors, but only on a relatively level surface.
Scissor Lift Pros and Cons
PROS: Scissor lifts have the greatest lift capacity - up to 1,000 pounds or more. These portable, vertical platforms are commonly used in parking garages, warehouses, and for facility maintenance or ventilation projects. Basically, anywhere you might use scaffolding (up to 40 feet), you could use a scissor lift.
CONS: Because scissor lifts can only go one way (up), they must be positioned directly beneath the work area. For hard-to-reach areas, articulating and telescoping booms are a better choice.
Further Reading: How to Choose the Right Scissor Lift
Boom Lifts, Cherry Pickers and Bucket Trucks
Boom lifts have many names because there are many types. This type of lift can reach higher and farther than other types of aerial lifts. On the downside, boom lifts have limited capacity (500-600 lbs unrestricted).
For the most part, boom lifts are differentiated by:
Arm type (knuckle or telescoping)
Power source (electric/battery-operated or diesel)
Attachments (bucket, lifting hook, etc)
The type of boom lift you want to use depends on what you need to access and what might be in the way. An articulated knuckle boom can help workers access hard to reach places, but a telescopic vertical boom can lift them higher.
Man Lift Pros and Cons
Man lifts, also known as vertical mast lifts or stock pickers are compact and portable, but have the lowest load capacities (300-500 lbs).
Further Reading: JLG’s New and Improved Stock Picker
Aerial Lift Training
No matter which lift you choose, OSHA requires all operators have certification and training. Learn more about aerial lift safety training in the Bay Area, Fresno, Salinas and West Sacramento, CA .
When to Buy Versus Rent an Aerial LiftIf you only need the lift for a one-time job or less than a year, renting is the most cost-effective option. When you rent a scissor lift, boom lift, etc. from TMH, repair and maintenance is included in the rental rate.
Buy or Rent an Aerial Lift in Northern and Central California
We rent Aichi and JLG scissor lifts, boom lifts and man lifts by the day, week and month. We deliver fast with rental yards in Fresno, Livermore, Sacramento and Salinas. Learn more about renting an aerial lift in California including questions to ask and how to get a great rate.
Contact us online or by phone.
San Francisco Bay Area - Livermore (510) 675-0500
Fresno (559) 834-9500
Sacramento (916) 376-0500
Salinas (831) 757-1091