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How to Choose the Right Scissor Lift ?! STEP BY STEP GUIDE

There is nothing like a scissor lift to provide you a quick and safe access to
hard-to-reach places at different heights without having to erect a scaffold. Using one of these equipment is very important to many construction projects.

Choosing the right scissor lift you'll use isn’t that easy, especially if you haven't rented any scissor lift for your job before. You need to consider some issues like height, load capacity and type of terrain. If your choice is poor, then your scissor lift may not satisfy your needs. 

Fortunately, you can get a pretty good idea of how to choose your lift by taking a closer look at the job site and nature of the project you will be working on.

I’ve pulled together an informative guide that includes 6 STEPS to choose the right scissor lift with some of the most important factors you need to consider before deciding which scissor lift will be yours.

#1. Working Height

This may seem very obvious, how much height do you need to have a close access to the area you are working on? If you are looking for a scissor lift then you are going to be working on a project that basically requires some additional levels of height. 

You will need to approximately measure the height, and it is so important to know that when you are renting a scissor lift, there are two kinds of height that are used in the market; Platform Height and Working Height, and confusing between the two may cause problems.

Here is the difference between Platform Height and Working Height..
Difference between Platform Height and Working Height

Platform height

Platform height is the vertical distance between the ground the scissor lift is standing on and the floor of the platform that the operator would stand on. So, you will be given the height from the ground to the level that platform will raise.

Working height

Working height is being used by some rental companies instead of Platform height, which is usually about six feet higher than the height of the platform, taking into consideration that the person standing on the platform is about six feet tall. 

It’s important to know the difference between Platform height and Working height when you are choosing a scissor lift because you don’t want to end up with the wrong working height, this could leave you with a few feet short from the place you need to reach. Basically, scissor lifts can reach heights of 19 to 40 feet.

#2. Weight Capacity 

Now you know how high you want the scissor lift to take you up, and it is a good time to give a lot of thinking about capacity. Any time you will lift worker and their tools and equipment, there would be a limitation on capacity and for the safety of soul involved in the site, it MUST be followed carefully. 

Before deciding weight capacity, you should know a few things about your project. You should have a good idea about how much weight you want to lift. Guessing when renting your scissor lift may lead to project delay if you end up needing a new powerful scissor lift while working. Yes, you can change your scissor lift, but you do not want to pick one and change it the next day.

You should have a list of the weights of the workers, equipment and tools that will be on the scissor lift platform. Estimates may be allowed in some cases, but having a precise number should be your goal. You have to make sure that you do not push the capacity to its limit of your scissor lift.

Weight Capacity and Maximum Number of Persons
Beside having a limitation on the capacity of the scissor lift, there will be a personnel limit regardless of weight capacity. Even if the capacity is higher than what your project needs. This may mean that you need to modify your work schedule, instead of doing many different parts at the same time, you may want to split up time to make sure that the personnel limit is not exceeded. Spending more time is a good investment to ensure the safety of your workers.

In general, scissor lifts have higher load capacities than boom lifts because the scissor lift rises straight up, not out. Depending on choosing a narrow or wide platform scissor lift, load capacity varies from 500 pounds to 2,500 pounds. 

#3. Platform Size 

Scissor lift platforms come in common standard sizes, most of them are rectangular in design, but this doesn't mean that square ones doesn't exist. 

If the size of the platform is not wide enough, here it comes a very important feature all new modern scissor lifts already have; the extension deck. Magically, you can extend it to get at least 2 additional feet added to the platform, up to a 7 foot possible extending in some extreme situations

But you should also know that any changing of the dimensions of the platform will affect the stability of scissor lift. In this case bigger might not mean better. When extending the platform size, you are changing the center of gravity location of the whole scissor lift and having weight over capacity or an unbalanced load may cause heavy problems.

The center of gravity is important because it can affect performance of the scissor lift directly. An imbalanced object demands on the lift, so, in this case, a larger platform that should have a larger center of gravity could solve the problem.

#4. Project Nature

Choosing the right scissor lift you really need depends on the nature of your project. Lifting heavy loads; workers, their tools or any other material, very high is a difficult process. You need a scissor lift to raise your load and workers safely. 

If you are working many feet high off the ground, you should keep in mind that a fall could damage or even destroy your property, or worse, the scissor lift itself, which is an expensive piece of equipment. Not to mention serious injuries that range up to death, God forbid. 

That’s why you must think about your project nature. Choosing the wrong scissor lift may cost a lot of money. 

Some factors to consider other than the load is stable or not, is what’s inside it, and where is its center of gravity. The nature of the load also matters because sometimes some things don’t handle bumps well. 

For example, a load that have a group of some fragile window glass may break into pieces if you chose the wrong type of scissor lift. That’s why the contents of the load matter.

#5. Type of the Terrain

Now you should have a good idea about the type of the scissor lift that can make you reach the work space and hold both of workers and equipment that need to be lifted, but have you thought about the ground or terrain you will be working on? 

Getting back to the project nature, to the terrain you are working on that has a lot to do with what kind of scissor lift you are going to choose, let's take construction sites for example.

Construction sites have a variety of grounds, and it is important to make sure that your scissor lift is made to have a high level of stability and a firm foundation on the ground you are working on. 

A firm foundation on working terrain is one of the most basic necessities for working at heights. The last thing you want for your tools or equipment is to slide while enjoying your trip in the air.

It is not just the type of terrain the scissor lift will be on while elevating, but also the terrain which will be traveling on to get to your working spot. 

Is the job site indoor or outdoor? Is the terrain level or sloped? Is the terrain dry, wet or frozen? Are there any holes or obstacles to navigate around in the ground? Or will the terrain be anyhow affected by the progress of constructing? 

Scissor lift is great for moving workers and their pieces of equipment straight up and down, but you have to get directly underneath the object you need to work on and maneuver around if there is any obstacle on the job site.

If the terrain is challenging, muddy or rocky then you should choose a rough terrain scissor lift with four-wheel drive. If there would be debris scattered across the site then you should consider a rough terrain scissor lift with higher ground clearance.

#6. Power Supply

Basically, scissor lift comes with one of two primary power supply; Electric motor that uses batteries or Diesel or dual-fuel engine. 

Diesel powered scissor lift is more common in Europe while in the US, the most popular engines use dual-fuel gas setup powered by either gasoline or liquid propane, where environmental laws are different. But this doesn't mean that you won't find some diesel engines in the market.

The type of scissor lift power supply you will choose depends on the project nature and the type of the terrain

Electric scissor lifts

Electric scissor lifts that uses batteries need to be charged, you should choose electric scissor lift only when you have easy access to power outlets near to your working site. 
Electric Scissor Lift Batteries
You may be able to work with electric scissor lifts outside as well, depending the type of the terrain of course. You can Bring spare batteries, that would be a good idea, but make sure that you know how to replace them properly, Don't Risk. 

Recharging electric scissor lift batteries takes about eight hours when the equipment batteries are deeply consumed.

Electric scissor lifts do not have exhaust fumes. So, using them in closed spaces or indoors should be perfect.

Diesel or dual-fuel engines

Diesel or dual-fuel engines are so powerful. Fuel provides the most power and which is more needed for the largest lifts that are made to hit rough terrains and increased weight capacity or working height.
Rough Terrain Scissor Lift 
Diesel powered scissor lifts should be used outdoors, because of exhaust fumes. The great part of using a diesel powered scissor lift engine is that you need nothing but bringing some extra fuel tanks, and go wherever you want for as long as you want.

The problem with diesel and dual-fuel engines is that their fuels give out exhaust fumes. Many cities banned using gas and diesel lifts indoors. Having a lot of toxic fumes in a closed space is great a health hazard which leaves only electric powered scissor lift for indoor uses.

Hybrid-powered scissor lift

Hybrid-powered scissor lift is the most flexible, you can use it indoors with electric power provided by batteries or switch it to a diesel or propane engine to use it outdoors and increase power or to eliminate the need for charging and decrease charging time.

Pull it together

As you can see, choosing the right scissor lift is not that tricky. First, write down the Working Height you need to accomplish your mission, then estimate how much Weight you are going to lift. Once you know the weight capacity, go for Platform Size

You should consider some factors like your Project Nature and Type of the Terrain you are working on, then make a decision about your Power Supply; will it be electrical motor, diesel or dual-fuel engine or both together? 

After you have narrowed down your options, you should have a good background about what you need and what is more suitable for your project and it is the time to make your call.

When renting or buying a scissor lift, double check and ask for advice from the person who manage the rental or selling, it is his job to know which scissor lift is the right choice for your needs.


The scissor lift is a very useful piece of equipment due to its highly rated power. It looks like a giant platform from a distance but closely it is nothing but a motor with a platform that can lift heavy weights very high. 

Each scissor lift has a weight limit. The sizes, weight capacities, and lift height vary from a scissor lift to another. The most powerful scissor lifts are better for larger projects but sometimes more powerful scissor lift isn’t always better

And consider changing scissor lifts. Picking one and use it for every project you have is not a good idea. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is trying a different lift. 

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