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Choosing an Aerial Lift: Which Man Lift is Best for the Job?

4 minute read
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Tim Forestell
September 9, 2020

Choosing an Aerial Lift: Which Man Lift is Best for the Job?

Whether it’s painting, doing ceiling work or finishing up an HVAC installation, it’s not rare for contractors to work at heights. Lifting both people and materials should always be done as safely as possible. The variety of man lifts and aerial platforms can make this confusing. From articulating boom lifts to platform man lifts, how do you decide? Which man lift or aerial lift is best for you and your job?

Here are some things to consider when trying to decide which man lift or aerial lift you should rent for your job.

Indoor or outdoor?

The very first question should be about where you need the lift to operate. If your project is mainly outside, you may want to refrain from using certain types of lifts. Scissor lifts, for example, are mainly graded for interior use. They aren’t as stable on uneven terrain and usually have a lower wind speed capacity. 

Rough terrain scissor lifts, however, are a subcategory of scissor lift that has been designed specifically for outdoor use when direct up-and-down movement is needed. The biggest difference between these two types of scissor lifts is that rough terrain lifts have four-wheel drive, stabilizers and are fitted with reinforced tires.

articulating boom lift

Boom lifts – both articulating and telescopic as well as towable boom lifts – are also okay for outdoor use but aren’t created for it the same way the rough terrain lift is. 

Fuel Consideration

Another reason to identify first and foremost if you’ll be using a lift indoor or outdoor is because of fuel. Many telescopic boom lifts run on fuel such as diesel or dual fuel. Using these gas-powered machines indoors with low ventilation is dangerous. 

Inquire specifically about electric lifts if you will be operating indoors. This will not only keep the operator and other contractors safer, but it will help reduce the risk of fire or explosion inside the building.

What type of job am I doing?

There are two key types of lifts: the scissor lift and the boom lift. 

Scissor lifts operate in the up-down position while boom lifts provide a forward reach. Articulating boom lifts also provide a bit of a turning capability in the boom which gives it the ability to reach around corners or up and over beams, roofs, etc. 

Scissor lifts are popular for painting and ceiling work when the lift can get right up in the space that needs the work. The base is as big as the platform which means they fit into small spaces and don’t require as much space to maneuver – unlike boom lifts which have a bit of a neck on the body.

Man on boom lift

How tall do I need the aerial lift to go?

Height and range are key considerations when looking to rent a man lift. Range refers to the horizontal space that is achieved by a telescopic boom lift, specifically. It’s important to keep this in mind not only for the job itself but the space that the lift needs to enter and maneuver in. 

All lifts should be able to fit through entrance ways and turn as needed – all without hitting any obstacles.

What am I lifting?

This question is important for two reasons. The first is the size of the platform

You can’t lift anything that is bigger than the platform itself. If you expect to raise drywall or some type of light fixture, the platform must be big enough to accommodate the entire piece or material. 

The second point to this question is weight. Depending on the size and reach of the machine, the max weight capacity changes. Consider the material, its weight and reach before setting your mind on a specific type of lift. 

If you aren’t sure about max weight and reach capacity, the DOZR team is here to help answer your questions and provide direction for which man lift rental is best for your job. 

Remember that Bigger isn’t Always Better

With lifts, sometimes the mindset is that going bigger is better because you can just not extend it all the way or just move the base further away. The opposite is true, actually. Having a lift that is too large for a job also means that it’s much too heavy and could be more difficult to maneuver in the space of the project. Bulkier lifts may be more likely to hit wires, beams, columns, or other obstacles. 

Ending up with a lift that is too small on the other hand could mean that you push the machine past its limit. Overreaching or loading material that goes beyond the weight restriction is just asking for an accident. 

It may take extra time to take proper measurements but the safety of contractors and a project is worth it. 

Renting a Man Lift

Lifts are usually used for shorter periods of time with very specific projects or tasks. Large boom lifts, for example, could cost more than $50,000 to purchase. That also means that you could be stuck with one machine that doesn’t work for every project. 

Renting a lift on DOZR gives you the ability to truly choose the best machine for the job – no matter how long or short the job is. 

Still not sure which lift is best for you? Contact the DOZR team and speak to an expert in equipment rentals. 

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Tim Forestell
Tim Forestell is one of DOZR’s co-founders and CCO. Tim got started in the industry as VP Operations for Forestell Landscaping before founding DOZR with Kevin and Erin. Aside from the amazing team at DOZR, his favourite thing about DOZR are the customers. Working with DOZR renters every day gives him a peek at the evolution of different projects and hearing stories about projects being developed from start to finish.
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