A boom lift is a type of aerial lift designed to lift workers on construction sites, on farms, along utility lines, and elsewhere. It consists of a platform or bucket attached to a hydraulic arm and a grounded, movable base. Lift operators can use boom lifts to extend their vertical reach or horizontal reach, or to work at angles in difficult workspaces.
Boom lifts can raise workers to heights ranging from 30 to 210 feet. While height and platform capacities vary by model, the tallest boom lift, 2100SJ, can lift 770 pounds 210 feet high, and 115 feet horizontally.
Boom Lift Uses
Boom lifts can be used on a number of worksites for a variety of tasks related to construction projects, maintenance, agriculture, and other industries. Specific uses can include:
- Piping work
- Maintenance projects
- Exterior cleaning
- Utility work
- Orchard work
Advantages of Using a Boom Lift
Boom lifts can reach higher and farther than other kinds of lifts, such as scissor lifts, making them perfect for highrise construction, bridge work, and other tasks that require maximum reach.
- Height — At up to 210 feet, they’re capable of reaching up to 17 stories high, far higher than a scissor lift.
- Fuel options — With electric or diesel options, you can choose a boom lift that will work indoors or outdoors, depending on the power source.
- Maneuverability — Articulating boom lifts in particular can provide access to otherwise inaccessible spaces on a work site.
- Platform options — Narrow or wide platforms can accommodate more capacity or fit in narrower spaces, depending on your priorities.
While there are plenty of advantages to boom lifts, there are also disadvantages. For example, they have a smaller platform with limited weight capacity, so they may not be a fit if you need to raise multiple workers or heavy materials.
Types of Boom Lifts
Different kinds of jobs call for different types of boom lifts. For instance, indoor jobs in warehouse work areas may call for a quiet, zero-emissions electric lift, while you may want a diesel dual-fuel lift for outdoor use on a job requiring more power. There are different configurations as well.
Articulating Boom Lifts
Articulating boom lifts feature arms with multiple joints, like a finger, which is why they’re often called knuckle lifts. These joints enable them to reach over and around obstacles in tight quarters, allowing workers to access areas that would otherwise be out of reach.
A bucket truck is a heavy-duty wheeled vehicle that’s often used in tasks such as orchard work — which is why it’s also known as a cherry picker — and utility line maintenance. It features a railed aerial platform that’s attached to a hydraulic crane.
Telescopic Boom Lifts
Telescopic boom lifts are equipped with an arm that extends and contracts in a straight line, like a telescope. The arm is attached to a rotating turntable and can extend straight up or out at an angle; the bucket at the end typically holds one worker at a time.
Which Type of Boom Lift Should I Rent?
Once you decide a boom lift is right for your project, you’ll want to determine which model works best. Do you need a machine with greater lift height, higher weight capacity, or greater horizontal reach? How much does cost factor in? Do you need an electric boom lift for indoor work or a diesel man lift for an outdoor job?
How high you want to go will be an important factor in determining what kind of lift you need.
- Articulating boom lift: Knuckle lifts can range from maximum heights of 30 to 150 feet.
- Bucket truck: A bucket truck has a similar range at 30 to 160 feet.
- Telescopic boom lift: This straight boom can extend the farthest, from 30 to 210 feet.
Different lifts offer a variety of options in terms of directionality when you’re looking to reach an elevated work site.
- Articulating boom lift: These machines can extend their arms vertically or horizontally, with the added benefit that they can bend to maneuver their buckets around obstacles.
- Bucket truck: Bucket truck arms have a single joint that can allow them to maneuver horizontally and vertically.
- Telescopic boom lift: While telescopic lifts don’t have joints, their hydraulic arm is mounted on a rotating base so it can extend up or out in any direction.
Boom lift buckets generally accommodate one or two people, but some have slightly more capacity than others.
- Articulating boom lift: These lifts are good for one-person jobs.
- Bucket truck: Bucket trucks can accommodate one or two people, providing versatility depending on the nature of the job.
- Telescopic boom lift: Telescopic lifts can also accommodate one or two workers.
Different boom lifts are better suited to indoor or outdoor use, depending in part on whether they’re powered by electrical or diesel fuel, but also on their configuration.
- Articulating boom lift: These can be used both indoors or outdoors, but their jointed arms make them the best suited for tight indoor environments.
- Bucket truck: These are vehicles designed strictly for outdoor use.
- Telescopic boom lift: Telescopic lifts can be used both indoors and outdoors, but their straight arms are less compact than articulating lifts and they’re therefore slightly less likely to fit well in an indoor environment.
The kind of terrain you’re working on can be another factor in selecting the kind of boom lift you need.
- Articulating boom lift: Some models work best on flat, stable ground, which can guard against unsteadiness and potential tipping. However, articulating boom lifts equipped for rough or uneven terrain are also available.
- Bucket truck: Its low center of gravity and heavy-duty tires make it well suited for uneven, rough terrain.
- Telescopic boom lift: Like articulating lifts, some work best on flat, stable ground, but rough terrain lifts are available that can access uneven, rough terrain.
- Articulating boom lift: These are available from BigRentz to rent. A 30-foot articulating narrow electric boom lift can cost about $212 a day, $520 a week, or $1,331 a month. At the higher end of the scale, a 125-foot diesel dual-fuel lift can run about $1,196 a day, $2,600 a week, or $7,280 a month.
- Telescopic boom lift: You can rent a 40-foot diesel dual-fuel lift for about $248 a day, $572 a week, or $1,456 a month. A 120-foot telescopic lift running on the same fuel would be about $1,129 a day, $3,227 a week, or $7,600 a month.
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Boom Lift vs. Scissor Lift
Boom lifts are different from scissor lifts, which feature accordion-type legs that expand to lift a platform straight up and down. The platform on a scissor lift is larger than a boom lift bucket and has a higher lift capacity, but this kind of lift moves in one direction and can’t reach the heights accessible by the larger boom lifts.
You might want to use a scissor lift rather than a boom lift in situations like these:
- Lifting containers to a higher shelf or removing them in a warehouse (electric scissor lifts can be used in this situation).
- Washing windows on the side of a building.
- Lifting workers on job sites with rough terrain.
- Elevating multiple workers and bulkier material.
Boom Lift Safety Tips
Safety is important when operating any piece of heavy equipment, whether it’s a skid steer or excavator, forklift or telehandler. Boom lifts are no exception. Here are some tips for maintaining safety while operating a boom lift.
Select the right boom lift
- If you’re not sure what equipment you need, ask the experts at BigRentz for help.
- Make sure you familiarize yourself with and follow the OSHA regulations for the equipment you choose.
Check the equipment before use
- Before every shift, check oil and other fluid levels, wheels, batteries, controls, brakes, and steering.
- Check for worn parts and to ensure electrical parts are operating correctly.
- Repair any problems before you try to use the equipment.
Operate the equipment safely
- Boom lifts should stay at least 10 feet away from energized power lines or other hazards.
- When you calculate loads, consider the combined weight of the worker(s), tools, and equipment, and be sure not to overload your platform.
- Use protective equipment like hard hats, body belts, reflective vests, eye protection, face masks, and gloves.
- Don’t operate boom lifts or other MEWPs (mobile elevating work platforms) when winds are in excess of 28 mph.
Once you’ve committed to a project and decided on what you want to spend, you’re all set to start thinking about the kind of equipment you’ll need. Whether you’re looking for a telescopic boom lift, articulating boom lift, bucket truck, or scissor lift, you’re sure to find rental options that will fit your needs and budget.