Electric vs. Traditional Lift Trucks: Which One Is Right for You?
Your warehouse’s productivity rides on a lot of factors. One you may have overlooked is the type of forklift you use. Electric and gas forklifts are two of the most common options, but there are other traditional choices other than gas at your disposal. This electric forklift comparison will help you understand the benefits of each type of forklift and which one is best for your job site.
Electric vs. Gas Forklift
Forklift trucks, both gas and electric, come with their own unique set of benefits and downsides. The one you choose will likely depend on the work you are doing and the context you are in.
A forklift that is electric vs. one that is gas will likely have a longer life as it has fewer moving components. Electric forklifts are also considered to be the most eco-friendly lift trucks, making them the top choice of companies who prioritize that in their machinery. It costs more to operate a forklift that is gas than one that’s electric, as electricity costs are much lower than fuel costs — which tend to fluctuate significantly due to changes in the market.
Being powered by electricity and needing a battery does not hinder the performance of the electric lift truck — rather, a battery actually enhances it. The battery weight works as a counterbalance, which gives electric lifts better maneuverability than gas forklifts. They also function quietly and rarely break down.
The potential downsides to electric forklifts are that they can only operate on smooth floors inside and may require a bigger investment upfront than other traditional lift trucks. Taking them outside risks damage to their electrical parts should they get wet from rain or snow.
While gas forklifts don’t need to be charged, they still come with their own set of challenges. Though their price upfront is better than an electric lift, the cost of maintaining them — on top of rising fuel prices — may cause you to spend more in the end.
Which Forklift Is Better — Gas or Electric?
When comparing electric and gas forklifts, you’ll need to consider the context of your business. Gas and electric forklift trucks have varying strengths, but your business’ priorities and working conditions should ultimately guide your decision. Consider factors in your lift truck comparison such as:
- The materials you have on hand
- The conditions of your warehouse
- The weather conditions and exposure
- Your individual budget
Electric vs. Diesel Forklift
The benefits of the electric forklift are similar when comparing it to a diesel forklift, though there are some other relevant factors to note.
- Size and maintenance: Compared to a diesel lift truck, electric forklifts are smaller in size and easier to maneuver in small spaces. Diesel trucks may have difficulty navigating tight corners, so if your warehouse or workspace is crowded this may be something to consider. Diesel forklifts also require the use of a clutch, unlike electric ones. However, diesel forklifts may take up less space since you don’t have to dedicate an area for charging batteries.
- Parts and maintenance: Diesel trucks also have a lot of moving parts, more than electric lifts do, which tend to need maintenance. The increased need for maintenance can increase your business’ operational costs and might result in downtime if you don’t have enough machines to take over for the ones that are in repair.
- Outdoor settings: Diesel forklifts are a much better option for outdoor settings than electric forklifts, though they may not be a great option for indoor settings. Diesel forklifts are built to withstand rough terrain and conditions and do not have trouble getting wet. They are also very loud, so having them outside may be better for noise control.
- Fuel and power usage: Though the cost of fuel can add up, diesel forklifts have the capability of running a long time before running out of fuel. When they do run out of fuel, it does not take long to fill them up, which is an advantage over electric forklifts that require a longer time to recharge before being functional again. Diesel lifts also have better power usage, especially when looking at the power used after adding attachments or driving on various terrains.
- Toxic fumes: Like every type of forklift, diesel lift trucks come with their own set of challenges. Just as electric forklifts do not work well outside, diesel forklifts are not much help inside. They are loud, which can make communication between workers more difficult, and they may emit toxic fumes. Because of this, they require employees using them to have special training and for the warehouse’s indoor air quality to be carefully assessed to remove dangerous carbon monoxide.
Which Forklift Is Better — Diesel or Electric?
Similar to the question of gas vs. electric forklifts, whether you choose a diesel or electric forklift depends on the needs of you and your business. Each option will save you money in different areas, but for warehouse use, an electric forklift is a much better fit.
Though a diesel forklift may be better suited for outdoor conditions, an electric forklift provides more overall benefits and makes for a better solution in a warehouse environment than diesel.
Electric vs. LPG Forklift
Liquid propane gas (LPG) is the fuel that powers some types of forklifts. LPG forklifts offer a unique set of advantages and challenges, just like all the other types of forklifts. LPG forklifts are very common in the forklift market and are versatile across a wide range of industries. Some advantages of an LPG forklift include:
- Lower investment: LPG forklifts come with a lower initial investment than electric forklifts, which makes them a good option to supplement other lift trucks in your fleet.
- Quick refueling: LPG forklifts also don’t need to be recharged as electric lifts do. Rather LPG lifts make it easy to refuel — you can simply detach the old gas tank when it is empty and replace it with a full one — a process that takes just minutes. The refueling process is a stark advantage to electric forklifts, which take long periods of time to charge, slowing down your workflow and decreasing your productivity.
- Works outdoors and indoors: Unlike the other options, LPG forklifts are equipped to work outdoors and indoors, as long as your indoor space has the proper ventilation. The average LPG forklift can lift up to 15,000 pounds, sometimes more.
- Wide availability: This type of lift is also widely available, which is a benefit to you upfront and as you use it. Should there be an issue, you know a replacement or parts will be easy to obtain quickly, so there is minimal effect on your workflow.
The disadvantages of LPG forklifts have some crossover with other lifts, but are still important to keep in mind:
- Fuel costs: Because LPG lifts run on fuel, your budget will need to be flexible. Fossil fuel costs can be unpredictable in the short term, but really only increase over time. Your company may also miss out on tax breaks that come with using renewable energy sources.
- Special training: LPG forklifts also require that operators go through special training, just as diesel lifts do. LPG lift trucks have many features that can enhance their performance if used properly, like the inching pedal. The training will also make sure replacing the gas tanks is done properly and safely.
- Maneuverability: LPG forklifts are also less maneuverable than electric forklifts, a challenge many other traditional forklifts have. If your space is crowded or lifts need to navigate tight aisles and corners, maneuverability will need to be a factor in your decision.
Which Forklift Is Better — LPG vs. Electric?
Again, certain contexts and industries are going to prefer one type of forklift over the other. A comparison between electric vs. LPG forklifts can help make the decision, but it’s up to you to determine which option is best for your individual business needs.
Smaller industries will lean more towards using electric forklifts for their ability to maneuver in small spaces. Electric forklifts are likely the best for your budget and will keep your warehouse as productive as possible.
Learn About Holt of California’s Wide Selection of Cat® Forklifts
Take your job site to the next level with a world-renowned brand. Caterpillar is a forklift designer and manufacturer that offers a variety of high-quality styles, including:
Electric Cat Lift Trucks
The Cat® electric forklifts are built to handle a variety of loads. Electric forklifts are best for indoor use, but they are great for warehouses and production environments as they are incredibly versatile and maneuverable. Electric forklifts also offer a clean alternative to gas lift trucks. There are several types of electric Cat forklifts we have to offer:
- 3-wheel electric pneumatic forklift: Having only three wheels allows this lift truck to have very good maneuverability, making it a great option for job sites with minimal extra space. It is energy efficient and has capabilities beyond that of a traditional forklift.
- Small electric cushion forklift: These small forklifts have tires made of solid, smooth rubber, making them a good option for indoor settings and loading docks. These trucks are also easy to maintain as their motor and controllers are easily accessible.
- Mid-size electric cushion forklift: These lift trucks feature regenerative braking, allowing energy to return to the battery when you slow down, brake or change direction. This function means your battery and your brakes can last longer.
- Small electric pneumatic forklift: Though most electric forklifts are not well-suited for outdoor environments, the tires on this lift have the traction they need for the rugged outdoors and the components are sealed to protect them from moisture.
- Mid-size electric pneumatic forklift: These forklifts have a curve control feature to protect your loads and aid in maneuverability. The driver of the lift also gets full visibility on all sides of the truck.
- Large electric pneumatic forklift: The name of the game for this lift is adaptability. With a preprogrammed performance mode selector, it is able to work in a variety of environments. Operators enjoy this forklift for its power steering and fingertip controls.
IC Cushion Tire Cat Lift Trucks
These forklifts are powered by internal combustion (IC) engines, which makes them well-suited for outdoor environments. Their cushioned tires cause the forklift to sit low, giving them more maneuverability. They are offered in small and mid-size builds so you can find the one that works best for your job site.
IC Pneumatic Cat Lift Trucks
These pneumatic lift trucks also run on an IC engine, but add the feature of pneumatic tires. Pneumatic tires make forklifts more versatile in outdoor settings as they are able to work on rugged terrain, have better traction and are less likely to be damaged if they run over some sort of sharp object.
Cat Hand Pallet Trucks
Hand pallet trucks offer a different set of benefits than other forklifts and aren’t considered heavy equipment. They are maneuverable, efficient and convenient to transport a wide range of materials easily. They offer a simple solution to moving materials if you only need them to move a short distance or within a small space where a forklift might not fit.
Jungheinrich Lift Trucks
Jungheinrich is the leading warehouse technology supplier in Europe and is supplied by Holt of California. We offer several types of Jungheinrich electric lift trucks, including:
- Counterbalanced lift trucks: These lift trucks are counterbalanced by a weight on the front and back end of the load to keep it stable.
- Reach trucks: These trucks help you navigate narrow aisles easily by lifting loads at right angles.
- Order pickers: For quick jobs of getting multiple orders and taking them where they need to go, the order picker is a great option.
- Turret trucks: A turret truck is able to function in warehouses that have narrow aisles with high storage densities.
- Pallet trucks: For heavier loads, the Jungheinrich pallet truck will help your warehouse operations.
Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks
A popular car manufacturer, Mitsubishi offers forklifts with innovative technology and rugged durability. Some of the electric Mitsubishi forklifts we offer at Holt of California include:
- Counterbalanced forklifts
- Hand and rider trucks
- Order pickers
- Reach trucks
View Our Wide Selection of Forklifts
As the official dealer of forklift equipment in north-central California, we know how to provide you with quality equipment that will enhance your productivity and efficiency. We have an extensive product and manufacturer line to solve your warehouse needs.
At Holt of California, we also offer forklift batteries, including lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are technologically advanced and able to increase performance, energy efficiency and value. They offer many unique benefits, including quick charging, long charge holds and infrequent maintenance. On top of those benefits, they also have a lifespan three to four times longer than other batteries.
If you are ready to find the forklift that is best for your job site, contact us today to learn more, ask questions or leave comments or concerns. You can also give us a call at 877-373-4100.