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Telehandler vs Boom Lift
Telehandler vs Boom Lift
Telehandler vs. Boom Lift: What's the Difference?
6 minute read
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Tim Forestell
October 3, 2023

Telehandler vs. Boom Lift: What's the Difference?

When beginning a project, every contractor has to perform a construction equipment comparison and determine which will make them the most efficient. Many factors play into these decisions including price, use case, maneuverability, space on the job site, and more.

Choosing between telehandlers and boom lifts is no different. Both pieces of equipment can serve you well in their individual ways. And while, at their core, they both are used to lift things horizontally and vertically, they have very different purposes. Let's explore when would be the right time to use a telehandler vs. using a boom lift.

What Does a Telehandler Do?

Telehandlers, or telescopic handlers, are designed for heavy lifting and material handling. Able to extend their booms horizontally and vertically, telehandlers can easily lift and place heavy loads. This functionality allows them to hoist or transport materials across a job site.

Design and Unique Features

Telehandlers are characterized by their extendable arms, making them versatile for various tasks. Need to lift heavy pallets? They can do that. Moving large amounts of snow? Telehandlers have you covered. Their adaptability is a significant advantage as they can switch between various attachments to tackle different jobs, from construction to agriculture and beyond.

What Does a Boom Lift Do?

On the other hand, where telehandlers lift materials to elevated heights, boom lifts are all about helping laborers get work done at those different heights. These aerial lifts are engineered to elevate workers to difficult-to-access areas ranging from 30 feet to over 200 feet. Think of them as your reliable aerial assistants, perfect for maintenance tasks, construction work, or even capturing breathtaking shots in the film industry.

Key Design Elements

Boom Lifts come in different configurations, each tailored for specific applications. There are two primary types of boom lifts: articulating boom lifts and straight boom lifts. With multiple "knuckles" on their arm, articulating boom lifts provide the unique ability to reach up and over different obstacles. The one downside is that they don't reach as far as telescopic boom lifts. Learn more about their reach and weight capacities in our articulating boom lift spec guide.

Straight boom lifts have one long arm, with no knuckle points, that extend horizontally and vertically. While this gives them less maneuverability, they are able to reach further than articulating boom lifts as you can see in our telescopic boom lift spec guide. This makes them ideal for tasks and projects that require working at higher heights with limited obstacles.

The last type of boom lift that's worth mentioning is the towable boom lift. Their compact and lightweight design allows easy transportation to various job sites, offering flexibility in tackling tasks at different locations. However, these machines provide limited reach and stability compared to articulating and telescopic booms. They are mostly used for DIY residential projects like cleaning gutters or windows, painting, or tree trimming.

Telehandler vs. Boom Lift: So what's the difference?

Now that we've introduced the basics of telehandlers and boom lifts let's dive into the key factors that set these machines apart. It all comes down to their lifting and reaching abilities, how versatile they are regarding attachments, and where they perform best in different terrains.

Lift and Reach Capabilities

When it comes to lifting materials, telehandlers take the lead as they are powerful enough to handle loads ranging from 5,000 to 24,000 lbs, depending on the type. They can not only lift heavy loads vertically but also extend them horizontally. This makes them helpful for raising materials high, while also being able to extend out to different spots on your worksite.

Telehandler vs Boom Lift pros and cons

Moving on to boom lift capabilities, they are masters of vertical elevation but are primarily used for elevating people, not materials. They have limited weight capacity and are designed to get workers to high places safely and precisely. Typically, platform capacity ranges from 440 lbs to 1,000 lbs, depending on the unrestricted or restricted platform capacity. While they may not have the ability to carry hefty loads like telehandlers, their impressive vertical reach is ideal for helping complete tasks that require working up high, such as changing light fixtures, painting walls, or pruning trees.

At the end of the day, both machines are used to extend vertically and horizontally, but what each machine lifts is very different.

Versatility and Attachments

When it comes to add-ons and attachments, telehandlers provide more versatility than boom lifts. You can equip them with all sorts of attachments including forks for lifting pallets, buckets for earthmoving, swivel hooks, rigging hooks, and work platforms. Think of them as the handymen of construction, ready to adapt to various tasks on the fly.

Boom lifts, on the other hand, are more focused. Attachments typically come with the specific purpose of increasing safety like tool trays, spill guards, and additional railings. You won't see them switching between attachments like telehandlers do. If your project revolves around tasks that involve working at heights, like maintenance or window cleaning, boom lifts are your top choice.

Mobility and Terrain Adaptability

Telehandlers are built for rough terrain. They handle uneven ground like pros, making them perfect for construction sites or farms with bumpy landscapes. With their sturdy tires and high clearance, they can tackle different terrains quite easily.

Boom lifts can be used on both outdoor and indoor terrains. However, most indoor models have non-marking tires while outdoor models come equipped with thicker tires that can handle rougher environments.

These distinctions should help you choose wisely between telehandlers and boom lifts for your next project. Whether you're after reach, versatility, or the ability to tackle different terrains, there's a machine tailored to your needs.

Can a Telehandler Function Like a Boom Lift?

So far, we've unraveled the distinctions between telehandlers and boom lifts, but what about those moments when you wonder if one can pull off the other's job? Let's dive into scenarios where a telehandler might step in for a boom lift.

With the right attachment, a telehandler can lift workers and help them complete tasks at a moderate height. However, rather than using one to do the job of another, it's better to pair the two. This allows both machines to do what they do best.

Other Factors to Consider

Now that we've discussed the primary differences and when one might substitute for the other, there are additional factors to weigh when choosing between telehandlers and boom lifts.

Analyzing Your Project's Core Needs

Before deciding, take a step back and evaluate your project's core requirements. Are you primarily dealing with tasks that involve lifting and placing materials in various spots around your site? Or do you need to get up high to inspect, paint, or repair? Understanding your project's fundamental needs is the first step in choosing the right equipment.

Site Conditions and Adaptability

Your worksite's terrain and ground stability can significantly influence your equipment choice. If your project spans diverse landscapes with uneven surfaces, a telehandler's adaptability and robustness on rough terrain might make it the preferred option. However, a boom lift's precision and elevation capabilities might be better if your worksite is indoors or on smooth surfaces.

Cost Implications

Budget considerations play a pivotal role in any construction project. It's essential to factor in the rental or ownership costs of both telehandlers and boom lifts.

Harness DOZR's Platform for Your Equipment Rental Needs

Finding the right equipment for your construction project is crucial, and that's where DOZR comes into play. DOZR offers a handy platform for comparing rental prices from various suppliers, helping you find the most cost-effective telehandler and boom lift rentals. This helps you keep your project's budget in check while ensuring you have the right equipment to do the job efficiently and safely.

Telehandler or Boom Lift: The Final Say

We've highlighted the differences between telehandlers and boom lifts that may influence your decision. These machines may share some similarities but serve different purposes in the construction ecosystem.

As you ponder the choice between a telehandler and a boom lift, always keep your project's unique requirements in mind. Are you handling materials that need to be lifted and placed precisely? Or is your task all about helping workers reach great heights safely and efficiently?

Safety should be a paramount concern in construction. Ensure that your equipment choice aligns with the safety needs of your project. Don't compromise on safety for convenience or cost.

Ready to Explore More or Begin Your Rental?

Now that you understand telehandlers and boom lifts, it's time to implement that knowledge. Dive into DOZR's extensive listings to find the most suitable equipment for your construction needs. Our platform offers transparency, competitive pricing, equipment rental guides, and various options to meet your project's requirements.

Find Your Next Equipment Rental on DOZR
Telehandler image
5,000 lbs - 15,000 lbs
15 - 56 ft
Straight Boom Lift image
40 ft - 180 ft
Electric, Dual Fuel
Articulating Boom Lift image
30 ft - 150 ft
Electric, Dual Fuel
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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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