Figuring Out What Type of Scissor Lift You Need
All projects requiring a scissor lift have specific weight, terrain, and height requirements

Are you in the market for a scissor lift? Renting one of these devices is crucial to many construction builds. Deciding which type of scissor lift to use isn’t easy, though. You need to think about issues like height and lift weight. Many scissor lift components play a part in meeting these criteria. If you choose poorly, your scissor lift might not satisfy your project needs. Here’s a guide to figuring out what type of scissor lift you need.

The Basics of Scissor Lifts

The scissor lift is a useful piece of equipment due to its power. It looks like a giant platform from a distance. In reality, it’s a motor vehicle that can lift heavy weights. The most popular types of scissor lift engines are gas and electric in the United States, but diesel sells well in Europe. The area where you use the scissor lift will help you decide which type of engine is better.

Each scissor lift has its weight limits. Some are stronger than others. The ones that are more powerful are better for larger projects. They come with other limitations, though. You need to know how and why a scissor lift can raise large objects to pick the right one.

Deciding Weight Capacity

Before you choose weight capacity, you have to know something about your project. You must have a good idea about how much weight you have to lift. Otherwise, you’ll have to guess when renting a scissor lift. That can cause a project delay if you end up needing a more powerful lift.

The amount of weight that they can lift depends on a few factors that you can calculate. The best thing to do is to use an online calculator or smartphone app to figure out the weight capacity for your project. The one trick you must keep in mind about scissor lifts is that each level of scissors is another support beam. More lifts mean more lifting ability.

Something you should keep in mind is that you can change scissor lifts. You don’t need to pick one and use it for every project. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is swap to a different lift. The sizes, weight capacities, and lift strengths vary so much that a more powerful scissor lift isn’t always better.

When you rent a scissor lift, ask for advice from the person handling the rental. It’s their job to know which type of scissor lift is right for your needs.

Platform Size

When looking at your payload, you must think about the nature of the load. The platform is a two-person stand with a flat base. Think of it as a floor that happens to move. You need this floor to hold the weight of the load.

Platforms and lift bases come in standard sizes. The range is 9 to 42 feet in height. Most platforms are rectangular in design, although some square ones exist. If the size of the platform isn’t wide enough, you can extend it at least 2 feet. In extreme situations, a 7-foot extension is even possible. Remember that the changing the dimensions of the platform will alter the lift calculations, though.

The other important aspect of platform sizes is that bigger doesn’t always mean better. When you extend the platform size, you change the center of gravity. If you have an unbalanced load, this change could cause problems.

Project Type

The type of scissor lift that you need depends on the project. The action of lifting heavy objects up to great heights is difficult. You need a scissor lift that will raise your payload safely. You’re working many feet off the ground. A fall could damage or even destroy your property. Plus, it could damage the scissor lift, an expensive piece of equipment.

That’s why you must think about the project type. Picking the wrong one could cost a lot of money. Some factors to consider are whether the load is stable, what’s inside it, and where the center of gravity is. The stability of the load matters because some things don’t handle bumps well. For example, a load of fragile glass will break if you use the wrong type of scissor lift. That’s also why the contents of the load are important to consider.

The center of gravity matters because it can impact lift performance. Something imbalanced will place more demands on the lift. A larger platform will have a larger center of gravity, which could solve the problem.

Loading Method

How you load your items is also important. Several types of loading methods exist. The most popular three are placing materials on the platform, sliding the materials, and rolling the materials. Each method creates different edge loading conditions and will affect your choice of scissor lifts.

You’re most likely to place the payload onto the scissor lift with a crane or some stacking method. If your workers stack items manually, it won’t impact the edge load much, no matter what your load consists of.

Your stacking style will have a huge impact on the lift. If you load too much too fast, you risk damage to your load and parts of the scissor lift. For this reason, you should go as slowly as possible when using the stacking method. Any time you waste is offset by the lowered odds of equipment failure.

A sliding load system needs constant oversight. The amount of impact on the lift depends on how you handle the sliding. A conveyor system will have little impact. If you use sheets to slide items on the platform, the impact is minimal.

When you roll on a payload, all that matters is how you handle the rolling. When you use a pallet jack, a double-axle cart, or anything else with a 50/50 split, you don’t impact the edge load much. If you place the entire load weight on the edge at once, like with a single-axle cart, you’re greatly impacting the lift. You need to think about scissor lift selection more carefully in these instances.

Power Supply

Scissor lifts are available with one of two primary sources of power. The most popular engines in the United States use either batteries or a dual-fuel gas setup powered by either gasoline or liquid propane; you’ll also find some diesel engines on the market. Diesel-powered lifts are more common in Europe, where environmental laws are different.

The type of scissor lift power supply you choose depends on the project. You should choose batteries when you have easy access to power outlets. Electric scissor lifts don’t have exhaust fumes. So, the only issue with them is making sure that the batteries are charged. Bringing spare batteries is a good idea, but you must know how to replace them.

Dual-fuel and diesel engines are portable and powerful. Their best use is outdoors, of course. The great part of using a dual-fuel engine is that you can bring extra propane tanks to supplement your fuel needs.

The problem with both is that these fuels give off exhaust fumes. Many cities ban the use of gas and diesel lifts indoors. It’s a health hazard to have a lot of toxic fumes in a small space. That leaves only battery power for indoor projects.

Safety Components

You cannot use a scissor lift however you want. The federal agency known as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces the laws in this field. OSHA handles worker safety and has created rules to protect people on job sites. Section 1926 has a list of safety instructions you can read online.

Companies that make scissor lifts must follow these rules, too. That’s why all scissor lifts include guard rails. These barriers make sure that workers don’t accidentally fall. Lift operators must check to see if the guard rails work properly. Falls are the most frequent work site accident involving lifts. This extra safety step makes falls less likely to happen.

The other important safety check is stability. The wind, uneven ground, and other issues can cause lifts to tip over. Such situations can cause injuries and property damage. Safety laws require people to use scissor lifts on flat surfaces only. If you want to use a lift on uneven ground, you must choose a lift with a special grade for all-terrain usage.


As you can see, selecting the right scissor lift is a tricky process. First, you must decide how much weight you’ll need to lift. Once you know the load size, you have to weigh factors like the type of project and size of the platform you’ll need. You also have to do some calculations to know which kinds of lifts can handle your payload. Your loading method will factor into this equation, too.

After you have narrowed down your options, you still have to think about factors such as the kind of engine you’ll need. Finally, you must consider safety laws and how they’ll impact your project. It’s a lot to consider. Your best bet is to contact the scissor lift experts at Their decades of combined experience in the industry guarantee that they can help you make the right choice. You can reach us at (888) 325-5172.

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