Choosing the Right Lift for Your Job

A 50′ drivable lift, with all terrain tires

Lifts come in a variety of options for a variety of different work types and locations. Whether you need in-air mobility, off-road capability, ease of transportation, or indoor use there is a manlift for you. Options for bucket lifts include tow-behind, drivable outrigger-stabilized, and drivable counterweighted. For indoor use, scissor lifts are ideal for tight spaces. In addition, there are a wide variety of heights available, and different types of booms can be chosen, both of which affect the types of spaces that can be reached. 

The first thing to do when choosing a lift for a job is to determine the size of lift you need. Depending on the job you need to do, this can be a little more complicated than just deciding what the highest point you need to reach is. For example, when trimming trees, you must position the lift away from the tree that is being trimmed to avoid damaging the lift with falling limbs. Typically, an extra 10-15 feet from the highest point being trimmed is required. Another thing to consider is that as a boom lift approaches the limits of its extension the lift will have less outreach available. If, for example, you are painting a 30-foot-high wall a 34-foot-tall lift will technically do the job for you. However, you will need to reposition the lift every 10 feet or so, which takes time, especially if you need to reposition hydraulic outriggers. A 55-foot lift may be able to go closer to 40 feet without being repositioned. This idea of outreach changing depending on the height the lift is set at is called a working zone, and most manufacturers publish this data. 

Reaching a lift over while trimming trees to avoid damaging lift

After considering the height of the lift, take stock of any obstacles that you may need to work around. This includes both on the ground, and in the air. Most cherry picker-style lifts use hydraulic outriggers to stabilize the lift. This means that they have a “footprint” of ground that they need in order to properly deploy the outriggers. This ground has to be relatively firm in order to prevent sinking (although plywood can be used on softer ground), and free of obstacles. If an outrigger-stabilized lift is not an option, counterweighted lifts can provide an aerial work platform with a smaller ground footprint. Obstacles in the air can also be an issue. Articulating boom lifts offer a great degree of flexibility about where the boom can be in order to reach a certain point. This allows them to reach under, over, and around any tricky in-air obstacles. Telescoping boom lifts, on the other hand, only extend in a straight line, and therefore need to be moved to get a different angle of approach for the boom. 

A telescoping boom lift with a counterweight

Once you have determined the size and style of the lift for your job, consider how you want to get to and use the lift on your job site. If the job site is relatively flat, and is easily navigated by a towing vehicle tow behind lifts are probably your best bet. These lifts tow behind any truck, or suitably sized vehicle, with a standard ball hitch. This ease of transport typically makes them the cheapest option for their size. These lifts can come either as non-driving or with a “drive-assist” option that can help to move the lift without needing to reattach to a tow vehicle. For more robust self-driving options, a lift equipped with a diesel engine, all terrain tires, and four-wheel drive can be useful. Counterweighted lifts that are equipped with this option can even drive around with the boom extended. These types of drivable lifts need to be transported to the site with a trailer. The weight of the trailer and lift varies depending on the size of the lift you need, so be sure to check your vehicle’s tow capacity, or consider delivery. 

Towable lifts make transportation to the job site a breeze

There are many different options when it comes to lifts, and one is sure to be right for your job. Whether you need a large 80-foot lift for cleaning a church spire, or a small 30-foot lift to trim a tree in a tight spot there is sure to be a size for you. Outriggers and counterweights give you options for fitting the lift in a tight ground space, while articulating booms provide greater versatility in the air. Finally, drivability options will allow you to maneuver around your job site with ease, and reduce time on site. I hope this post made choosing the right manlift for your job a little bit easier. 

Check out our lift working heights on HERE 

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