Time to rent a forklift? You need to decide the best power source for your requirements. Electric, diesel/gasoline and propane forklifts all have their advantages and disadvantages. When looking for the right rental forklift, start by thinking about the tasks the forklift will be used for. Will the work happen mainly inside or outside? Is moving heavy pallets the number one need, or will the operator be using attachments to do other work? What is your budget?
Expand the sections below for help in choosing the right forklift for your job.
For indoor work, consider renting an electric forklift. Electric-powered forklifts are often used to lift and transport materials in industrial or warehouse settings, especially in cold-storage facilities for food and medical equipment.
If “battery-powered” makes you pause, consider this: Sealed lead-acid batteries have better starting power, recharge more quickly and have lower maintenance costs than older lead-acid batteries. Many heavy-duty forklifts still rely on lead-acid batteries because these heavy batteries — weighing between 800 and 4,000 pounds — serve as a counterbalance to the material being lifted. Newer electric models rely on lithium-ion batteries, which are the lightest option.
- Quiet, exhaust-free operation
- Relatively low operating costs
- More compact than propane or diesel thanks to the lack of an internal combustion engine
- Maneuverable, can turn on a dime
- Controls are basic, a boon for new or less experienced operators
- Less downtime due to fewer moving parts and the absence of engine oil, coolants, filters and fuel
- Less vibration, which reduces operator fatigue
- Great performance from the AC motor
- Performance not affected by cold temperatures needed for cold storage
- Most electric forklifts not rated for outdoor use
- Higher costs than propane and diesel forklifts, and charging bays, chargers and tools for removing large batteries add to the costs
- Heavy-duty work may require more expensive batteries
- Batteries require recharging, which can slow down work and diminish runtime
For quick refueling and low emissions, propane forklifts deliver. Liquid propane (LP) powers the internal combustion engine. Propane forklifts come in many sizes and capacities and are used in trucking and logistics, manufacturing and large warehouses.
If you're considering renting a propane forklift, weigh these pros and cons.
- Can be used for work indoors or outdoors, even on inclines
- Fast refueling (replacing a sealed propane tank takes five minutes or less)
- Lower emissions than diesel
- More power, greater torque and superior runtime than electric
- Wide range of capacities
- Longer engine life than diesel
- Fuel costs are unpredictable
- Propane is volatile and can leak from tanks if tanks are punctured
- More moving parts increase maintenance costs compared to electric
- A clutch is used to slow traction speed so you may need to train drivers on loading and off-loading
- May be difficult to start in cold weather
- Less power and torque than diesel or gas models
- Louder than electric forklifts
Need a bigger, more powerful forklift that can work on a slope? Renting a diesel or gas forklift is the way to go. These machines are the go-to outdoor forklifts for heavy-duty applications, such as heavy manufacturing, lumberyards and construction. Gas-powered forklifts are less common than diesel-powered forklifts but share many of the pros and cons.
- More power and torque than electric or propane forklifts
- Can lift more weight and easily power hydraulic attachments
- Faster acceleration and lifting
- Require less maintenance than propane-fueled engines
- Run time is limited only by fuel accessibility
- Limited to outdoor use due to exhaust fumes
- Noisy operation and vibrations cause operator fatigue
- Can’t make short turns or work in tight place due to their size
- Require more highly trained operators