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Buyer’s Guide for Industrial Lifts: Boom Lifts, Scissor Lifts, and Telehandlers

Buyers Guide for Industrial Lifts

Tired of renting industrial lifts?

There is no substitute for a lift when you need to get your team working at a specific jobsite. Lifts are more stable and versatile than any other option, making them safer than ladders and faster than scaffolding.

Working on your own schedule for as long as you need the equipment and avoiding extra fees are only two of the many benefits to owning any type of aerial lift. Most lifts are simple to operate and can be financed less expensively than you may realize.

But just because you happen to see a telehandler or a scissor lift for sale, you shouldn’t assume it’s your best option. Learn more about boom lifts, scissor lifts and telehandlers, and how buying an aerial lift can help you reach your goals. Our team of specialists at Access Lift Equipment devised an aerial lift buyer’s guide to give you detailed information about the machines we offer.

What Is a Boom Lift?

Boom lifts are the most versatile out of all other industrial lifts. Suitable for indoor or outdoor use, these “cherry pickers” or “man lifts,” are ideal for serious overhead work. Like all industrial lifts, boom lifts come in a variety of sizes depending on what you need to reach and where you’ll be working.

The most distinctive feature of the lift is its extending arm, which ends in a basket. The arm, or “boom,” generally extends from 30 to 180 feet depending on the size of your lift, and can swing in wide arcs or a full 360 degrees. Most boom lifts swivel on their bases, and many offer swiveling baskets for greater accessibility to project space. The operator in the basket controls every motion of the lift.

Boom lifts are designed to lift people, not material. If you need to raise a pallet of shingles or HVAC ducting to the third story, you’ll need a telehandler. But if you need to move workers into a position to accomplish their tasks, nothing beats a boom lift.

The greatest benefit of this style of industrial lift is its lateral motion. Scissor lifts have limited mobility and are safest to use indoors. Telehandlers are not designed to lift workers and must be operated from the ground. Boom lifts, however, can be positioned by the operator in the basket to reach up, down, left, right, back or forth and everywhere between.

Given their range of motion and versatility, boom lifts cost significantly more than scissor lifts but generally less than telehandlers. Whether you’re trimming trees or adjusting stage lights, there’s a boom lift to get you where you need to be. When you shop for a boom lift, look for top brands with reliable histories and strong reputations. A JLG or Genie boom lift should serve you well for years.

View Our Inventory of Boom Lifts

Types of Boom Lifts

It’s vital to understand your different options before making a decision, so here are additional details on four kinds of booms lifts that can accommodate your projects.

How to Buy a Boom Lift

1. Self-Driving Boom Lifts

Self-driving boom lifts are wheeled machines that an operator drives from the basket. They are generally four-wheel drive and suited for outdoor work. With heavy, stable bases and extreme maneuverability, these lifts are commonly used in construction, plant and industry maintenance.

They are the largest boom lifts that can accommodate several workers or light equipment and materials in the basket. This style of lift must be transported from one job site to another on a trailer and can weigh as much as a small tractor or other heavy equipment.

Some self-driving boom lifts are compact tracked machines, stabilized by outriggers instead of wheels. They offer more storage options but are more difficult to transport.

2. Towable Boom Lifts

Towable boom lifts are cheaper and lighter than self-driving lifts of comparable reach because they don’t require a drive engine or chassis. Towable lifts are ideal for companies that move from job to job and aren’t equipped with trailer rigs. Any suitably-rated truck with a hitch can tow this style of lift.

Unlike self-driving lifts, towable boom lifts are set-it-and-forget-it. Once in place, small base adjustments are impossible without lowering the boom and sometimes re-hitching the lift to your truck. Towable lifts are practical and affordable options for most applications.

3. Telescoping Booms

Telescoping booms gain their operating height by extending straight out from a central boom mast. It makes the lift ride smooth and stable and allows workers to reach heights of close to 200 feet. Telescoping booms often require less maintenance than other boom styles.

4. Articulating Booms

Instead of telescoping straight out, the booms on these lifts unfold in layers to their operating height. The unfolding layers allow for more basket maneuverability without needing to drive the machine to gain a better position. An articulating boom lift is generally more compact and easier to transport. The lifts sacrifice height for their articulation, so they will not reach as high as telescoping lifts.

Now that you have a better idea of which booms conduct which movements, it’s easier to see how one piece of equipment can benefit your company.

Boom Lift Applications

Boom Lift Applications

Boom lifts can assist an array of job applications such as:

  • Commercial and residential construction
  • Plant maintenance
  • Sign installation and maintenance
  • Stadium, airport and other public space maintenance
  • Commercial painting, pressure washing and sandblasting
  • Tree trimming
  • Bridge and overpass inspection

Before You Purchase a Boom Lift

Before taking out your wallet and making a swift decision, it’s essential to know how high you need to go, and how much mobility you’ll need to get there. Ensure that the basket size and weight capacity are sufficient for your workers and tools.

Inspect a self-driving boom lift as you would a tractor or skid loader. Look over the engine or motor wear and function, hydraulics, emission, tire wear, etc. Know how you will transport the lift and its weight. Ensure that booms designed for indoor use have the right power source.

For towable boom lifts, inspect the hitch and make sure you have a compatible towing setup. Be sure that the brake and signal lights are functioning. Check the wear of the smaller guide wheel, too.

For a boom and all other lifts, be sure that you understand the mechanics of the lifting mechanism and its regular maintenance requirements. Used equipment must be bought from a trusted dealer with lift service experience. Consider well-known brands like Genie or JLG.

What Is a Scissor Lift?

Where to buy a scissor lift

Scissor lifts offer the highest stability of any industrial lift. Sturdy, heavy bases serve as reliable anchors, allowing the operator to drive the lift even while extended. These lifts are designed to be mobile, elevated work platforms, not material handlers.

The scissor lift earns its name from its extension mechanism, which opens vertically — or accordion-style — between the base and the work platform. These lifts are self-driving with operator controls on the platform. The entire machine doesn’t extend beyond the footprint of the base, making scissor lifts easy to store. The platform is usually large enough for more than one person to work safely.

Because the base of each lift is only as broad as the scissor lift table, its reach does not match boom lifts or telehandlers. Expect a maximum reach of about 50 feet, even for the largest models like the GA™-4390 RT Genie scissor lift.

What scissor lifts lose in height they make up for in strength and stability. A large lift will handle up to about 1,500 pounds, even on a 40% grade. In other words, an entire work crew could ride up to survey a situation, receive instructions or complete a project. Set up is as simple as parking beneath your work area. Even while partially extended, scissor lifts easily allow operators to move from one area to the next quickly and safely.

When used responsibly, scissor lifts are the safest industrial lifts. It’s crucial for workers to feel safe while they are on the job. People who are distracted by worry make mistakes that can lead to injuries. Scissor lifts offer a stable working platform for employees that won’t bounce or sway like boom lifts and telehandlers.

Scissor lifts perform exceptionally well in tight spaces where close, careful maneuverability is necessary. Tight wheelbases and widths as narrow as 2.5 feet make them ideal for indoor projects, tight construction sites and urban use.

View Our Inventory of Scissor Lifts

Scissor Lift Applications

Take a look at how you can apply scissor lifts to the following applications:

  • Electrical and HVAC installation and repair
  • Theater, church, museum and convention center setup and maintenance
  • Warehouse and stadium maintenance
  • Aircraft and ship manufacturing
  • Commercial and residential painting, pressure washing and sand blasting
  • Coaching sports and directing marching bands during practice

What type of jobs does your work cover?

Types of Scissor Lifts

Do you need an outdoor or indoor scissor lift? Your answer may be obvious, but what characteristics do each uphold?

Types of Scissor Lifts

1. Outdoor Scissor Lifts

Scissor lifts designed for outdoor use feature four-wheel-drive and rugged tires. This style of lift has increased ground clearance and is typically transported between worksites on a trailer. Often, these have stabilizers that automatically level your lift before the machine will allow you to rise to the working height.

Outdoor scissor lifts are gas or diesel-powered. Even with stability aids like leveling struts, they work best on relatively level surfaces. Most lifts will not fully extend if the base cannot be brought to a level or almost level setting.

2. Indoor Scissor Lifts

For indoor use, scissor lifts use non-marking rubber tires. The style of scissor lift often has an additional stabilizer built into the base. This stabilizer drops down to support the wheels when the lift rises. Scissor lifts used indoors will get people where they need to work, but will not replace forklifts or other material handlers.

Due to noise and emissions considerations, most indoor scissor lifts are rechargeable electric or hybrid-powered.

With rugged tires that can withstand dirt, gravel, clay and other surfaces, outdoor scissor lifts can take on the elements. Indoor solutions are ideal for tighter spaces and are often electric for extra convenience.

Before You Purchase a Scissor Lift

Consider the platform size and weight capacity you need, as well as the ground or floor space you have to maneuver in. Closely inspect the extension assembly, control panel and stabilizers for signs of damage.

For indoor equipment, weigh the cost of recharging electric or hybrid models. For outdoor equipment, consider the tire wear, how to store the lift and how you’ll transport it.

Safety is always an issue when you want to buy a scissor lift and other used equipment. Only buy from a trusted source that can explain the machine’s service history. Many workers prefer Genie scissor lifts over other brands for their reliability and simple maintenance.

What Is a Telehandler?

when buying a telehandler or forklift

Telehandlers are most often used as rough terrain forklifts for outdoor industrial or construction projects. They feature large wheels on heavy chassis with an operator’s cab and full driving functions. The lifting is performed by a thick telescoping boom, able to reach up to about 50 feet on many models.

Telehandlers are the big brothers of other industrial lifts. They range in size from smaller 1,500-pound capacity lifts to massive machines able to carry 10,000 pounds. Regardless of its size, a telehandler needs ample open space to maneuver and line up its boom.

Unlike boom lifts and scissor lifts, telehandlers are operated from their cabs, which can be caged, or closed and climate-controlled. They are entirely controlled from the ground. The boom does not swivel, so the machine must be lined up properly using the wheels. Dual-axle steering allows all four wheels to turn, resulting in an incredibly tight turn radius.

The forklift forks at the end of the boom also adjust to swivel, tilt or slide the material into position. In addition to forks, telehandlers can use a variety of attachments, including platforms for multiple people to work from. The disadvantage of working from a telehandler platform is that the workers cannot adjust their positions like they can in other industrial lifts.

View Our Inventory of Telehandlers

Telehandler Applications

What can you use telehandlers for? Check out how different equipment attachments can open opportunities for various jobs.

Use telehandlers with forks for applications such as:

  • Lifting pallets of material for commercial and residential construction
  • Lumber yard work
  • Outdoor warehouse and plant work

Use telehandlers with platform attachments for projects like:

Use telehandlers with bucket attachments for the following:

  • Light scooping and loading
  • Snowplowing

Use telehandlers with hook or tackle attachments for:

  • Lifting roof trusses
  • Shifting containers
  • Other light or medium crane work

Before You Purchase a Telehandler

Most importantly, know what you’ll be using the machine for and what size you’ll need. Don’t buy anything too small to do the job or too large for you to transport from one work site to the next.

Because telehandlers are full-duty heavy equipment, you’ll need to check all the components as if you were buying a backhoe or a tractor. For example, examine the engine, powertrain, exhaust, hydraulics, electric functions, ignition, etc. Damaged or badly-repaired telehandlers are not safe to operate.

Only buy from a trusted source with expertise in industrial lifts — like at Access Lift Equipment, Inc. Purchase reputable brands like Lull, Genie, SkyTrak or JLG. Lastly, inspect the fork bracket assembly for stress or damage and inquire about optional attachment accessories.

Where to Buy Your Industrial Lift Equipment

Access Lift Equipment operates facilities on the east, west and southeast coasts of the United States to give you accessible points of purchase. Our east coast building located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, has an extensive inventory of top-tier aerial lifts to support your needs. On the west coast, you’ll find two facilities — one in Lakeside, California, and one in San Diego. There, we store equipment for any project and every industry. Our valuable expertise can help you determine the best solution for your application.

Finally, in the southeast area of the U.S., our Statesville, North Carolina, operations are close to people in the Charlotte metropolitan area as well as approximate states like Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. Our Access Lift Equipment location in Statesville works hard to form a relationship with you. We provide access to industry-leading manufacturers to give you peace of mind and a dependable machine.

Where to Buy Your Industrial Lift Equipment

Rely on the Experts

Access Lift Equipment, Inc. has almost 20 years of experience in servicing and selling every type of lift. We have superior knowledge in understanding what fits your requirements and budget and can help you find a safe and reliable piece of equipment. Founded in 2010 by industrial lift professionals, Access Lift Equipment works with you to show how buying aerial lifts can work for your particular business.

Our professional mechanics inspect and service every lift before it’s sold, and ensure that we have operated each machine in our 6-acre yard.

You will also find the best prices and up to 100% financing at fixed rates for as long as five years. Wherever your project takes you, there’s a lift that can get you there. Contact Access Lift Equipment, Inc. today.

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