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Aerial Lifts Shopping Guide
Aerial lifts are tools designed to lift work personnel and their equipment to levels higher than they can reach on their own. Aerial lifts are used in warehouses, retail stores, construction zones and other hard-to-reach areas. Whether you're looking for a basic lift to provide routine maintenance to your building or a boom lift for everyday use, MerchantHunter.com's buyer's guide will help you make a good decision about which lift you should purchase. The guide will include information on:
- How to select a lift of the proper size
- How boom lifts, scissor lifts and vertical personnel lifts differ
- Essential safety features
How To Choose An Aerial Lift
The most basic fact you should consider when choosing an aerial lift is the height to which you need the lift to reach. To obtain this information, measure the height of the shelves you need to reach, the equipment you need to repair or the location of the work you need to perform. Include ceiling height, ground level variations and doorframes in your measurements as needed.
Lift heights are measured according to platform height. Platform height is how high the platform or bucket extends from the grounds. The working height is six feet above that. For example, a lift with a platform height of 24 feet will permit the occupant of the lift to work at heights of up to 30 feet. You will also want to consider the lifting capacity of the lift. Lifting capacity, also known as operating capacity, can range from 300 pounds to more than a ton. Standard lifts often have operating capacities between 500 to 700 pounds and are designed to carry two occupants and their equipment. Keep in mind that the size of the lift is directly proportional to its height and operating capacity. Aerial lifts that are capable of carrying heavier loads at higher levels will take up more space than smaller, less powerful versions. Be sure that the lift is able to fit through the doorways and any potentially tight spaces in your work area. If you are purchasing an outdoor lift, be sure that any gates or trailers you may be required to use are large enough to accommodate it.
Power Options and Terrain Types
Aerial lifts are usually powered by electricity, gasoline, diesel or propane. Indoor lifts are generally electric. Outdoor lifts often operate on gas or diesel to avoid the need for extended recharging. Dual-fuel lifts permit the user to switch between gasoline for outdoor operation and propane for indoor use. If you need a lift that can operate continually indoors without requiring a recharge session, consider a dual-fuel lift.
Aerial lifts are classified as either slab lifts or rough terrain lifts. The slab lift is used for indoor applications or places with smooth, flat surfaces. These lifts are usually powered by electricity and have solid tires. Rough terrain lifts are usually powered by gasoline, diesel or propane and feature pneumatic tires for increased stability and greater traction.
Types of Aerial Lifts
There are three main types of aerial lifts: boom lifts, bucket lifts and personnel lifts. Once you understand how each lift is designed to operate, choosing the right one for your job is simple.
A boom lift consists of a bucket at the end of an extendable or jointed arm. If your job requires you to reach up and over obstacles, the boom lift will get the job done. Telescopic boom lifts are also called stick booms or straight booms. They have a reach of up to 120 feet at virtually any angle. These booms are often used in construction work to access upper stories. Telescopic boom lifts are ideal when you need the highest or longest reach possible.
Articulating boom lifts have jointed arms that enable them to reach around and over obstacles. They often also include four-wheel drive for additional maneuverability. Articulating booms, also called knuckle booms, are often used in utility work involving trees or power lines. They are also used in plant facilities to allow workers to reach over and around permanent fixtures or equipment.
Scissor lifts are flat platforms that move straight up and down. These lifts work best for moving multiple workers and large amounts of equipment. Scissor lifts provide greater capacity and larger workspaces than bucket lifts. These lifts generally have a platform extension of four to six feet from the top of the lift. Scissor lift platform heights range from 19 to 50 feet with lifting capacities of 500 to 2,500 pounds.
Vertical Personnel Lifts
Vertical personnel lifts are designed for a single user. They travel in a completely vertical position and are the most cost-effective option for situations that require vertical travel. These lifts are the least expensive type of lift and can usually be moved through a standard-size doorway when collapsed. Some vertical personnel lifts are able to handle two workers. These lifts have platform heights ranging from 12 to 50 feet and lifting capacities of approximately 300 pounds.
Safe Operation of an Aerial Lift
Aerial lifts are extremely safe when they are operated according to the manufacturer's directions. The most basic safety requirements of an aerial lift can be found in the operating manual and on the safety decals. Other safety features include pothole protection, high-speed cutout and restraining systems. These systems are designed to prevent tip-over, to maintain a safe operational speed when the boom is extended and to decrease the risk of injury from falls.
How Much do Aerial Lifts Cost?
Aerial lift prices vary depending on whether you purchase new or used equipment. If you intend to use your lift on a regular basis, you will want to purchase your own. If you use lifts irregularly, you may benefit from a rental instead. Boom lifts are the most expensive type of lift on the market. New 30- or 40-foot lifts range in cost from $30,000 $75,000. The 120-foot models tend to fit in the $250,000 range. Vertical personnel lifts, the least expensive of the three, can be purchased new for approximately $8,500. Models without mechanical propulsion can be purchased for as little as $2,500. Rental prices for aerial lifts range from $75 to $450 per day, depending on lift size and type. As mentioned above, vertical personnel lifts are the least expensive.
Buying Tips for Aerial Lifts
Don't try to cut corners by saving a few hundred dollars when purchasing a lift. Purchase a quality lift from a trustworthy seller that will meet your needs in your workplace. Avoid purchasing used lifts that show signs of modification. The safety of a modified lift may be compromised and could fail you unexpectedly. Some sellers replace or reset the odometer before reselling an aerial lift. If the machine appears to be older than the gauge indicates, ask the seller for the age of the machine. Be sure to measure your aisles, doorways, overhead clearance and any other areas that may restrict the passage of an aerial lift. Having knowledge of your space limitations will help you make a good decision on what size lift to purchase.