Towable Boom Lift vs Articulating Boom Lift: Which One is Right for Your Project?
When looking at and comparing different types of aerial lifts, it is important to choose the best one for the job. Sometimes, that could include picking between towable boom lifts and articulating boom lifts. Choosing the correct type of boom lift will enhance your project's efficiency, both short and long-term.
Both towable boom lifts and articulating boom lifts provide safe and elevated work platforms for workers to perform tasks at great heights. While there are a few key differences between these two lifts, there are also many similarities. Some of the key factors to consider when deciding are the job requirements, site conditions, and budget.
Understanding Towable Boom Lifts
Towable boom lifts are aerial lifts that are designed to be towed by a vehicle and access elevated areas. They are also referred to as trailer-mounted boom lifts, mobile aerial work platforms, and self-propelled boom lifts on trailers. Some of their defining characteristics are their articulating booms, trailer-mounted design, size, height, and reach.
They are frequently used in different types of construction and maintenance projects, especially DIY projects around the house. These lifts allow workers to access elevated areas such as roofs, building facades, and overhead structures. This helps when doing tasks like painting, window installation, electrical work, or general maintenance. Additionally, mobile aerial work platforms provide a stable platform for workers to install signs, banners, and lighting fixtures at heights safely.
The three key advantages of having a mobile aerial work platform on site are portability, versatility, and cost-effectiveness. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, their articulating booms help them in reaching challenging angles and positions anywhere.
Towable booms are notably more cost-effective when compared to larger aerial lifts or cranes. This is because they don't require hauling costs and are cheaper to rent daily, weekly, and monthly. By offering a balance between height and reach capabilities and affordability, they are a more cost-effective choice for many businesses and contracts.
The three main disadvantages to having mobile aerial work platforms on site are their weight capacity, terrain, height, and reach limitations. Towable boom lifts generally have lower maximum heights and reach compared to larger articulating boom lifts. The height and reach limits typically range from around 30 to 70 feet (9 to 21 meters).
Having been designed for use on relatively flat and stable surfaces, towable booms may not be as suitable for rough terrains, uneven ground, or soft soil conditions. It's up to the operators to assess the ground conditions and ensure a stable base for the lift to prevent instability or tipping.
Lastly, exceeding the weight capacity can pose a safety risk and potentially damage the lift. Aerial work platforms have weight capacity limits that determine the total maximum load they can safely carry. It's crucial to adhere to the specified weight limits and ensure proper load distribution.
Diving Into Articulating Boom Lifts
Articulating boom lifts also go by the name cherry pickers, man lifts, and basket cranes. They can be characterized by their ability to articulate or bend at multiple points, providing enhanced maneuverability and reach in confined or complex workspaces. They can also be defined by their multi-sectioned boom structure. This consists of several hinged segments connected by hydraulic or mechanical joins that allow flexibility.
The most important advantages to consider when deciding if a cherry picker is right for your project is the enhanced maneuverability, increased flexibility, and versatility. These aerial lifts are specifically designed to be able to navigate in and around tight spaces. When material handling ability to bend and articulate at multiple points, makes it possible to work around obstructions.
The multiple hinged sections of the boom allow for precise articulation, which is beneficial on confined sites. This flexibility allows operators to reach over, under, and around obstacles, not limited to buildings, trees, or other structures.
As well as their ability to move both vertically and horizontally, they have significantly greater reach typically reading from 30 to over 150 feet. Allowing for more versatile uses of the machine.
Related: Check out our towable boom lift and articulating boom lift spec guides.
Some of the disadvantages, which are equally as important to consider, include the price point, weight capacity restrictions, and limited stability on uneven terrain. In contrast to the mobile aerial work platforms, the articulating ones are more expensive to both own and rent. Feel free to check out our articulating boom lift rental page and towable boom lift rental page to see the comparison yourself.
Just like all aerial lifts there are specific weight capacity restrictions for articulating boom that determine the maximum load they can safely carry. Rough or uneven terrain can impact their stability and maneuverability.
Assessing the ground conditions and ensuring the lift is operated within the manufacturer's guidelines is important. In cases where the terrain is too challenging, alternative equipment like rough terrain construction equipment may be more suitable.
Comparing Towable and Articulating Boom Lifts
When deciding what material handling equipment will be best for your site, consider all the factors that will influence your choice. Check out our side-by-side comparisons of all the key benefits and limitations of each.
Mobility and Transportation
Towable boom lifts are designed for simple and efficient transportation. Their lightweight and compact design allows them to be towed behind a vehicle and move easily from job site to job site.
Articulating boom lifts are generally larger and will most likely require a separate trailer or transportation methods to move between sites. While transportation between sites is harder, articulating boom lifts have great on-site maneuverability.
Reach and Height
Towable boom lifts on average reach between 30 to 70 feet and have narrower dimensions. If you want to learn more, then check out our Ultimate Towable Boom Lifts Spec Guide.
Articulating boom lifts have a greater reach and height of 30 to 150 feet. Their ability to articulate and reach over obstacles makes them ideal for accessing elevated areas at various angles. If you want to learn more, then check out our Ultimate Articulating Boom Lift Spec Guide.
Stability and Safety
Towable boom lifts come with stabilizers or outriggers to ensure stability during operation. However, when compared to larger lifts, their stability may be slightly lower due to their lighter weight and design. Operators will need to assess the site's conditions and ensure proper stabilization.
Articulating boom lifts are also equipped with outriggers or stabilizers that provide stability during operation. Their larger size and weight work to help increase stability compared to towable boom lifts. They are designed to handle heavier loads and offer a stable platform for operators.
In summary, the main benefits of towable boom lifts are they are less expensive and easier to transport from site to site. The main benefits of articulating boom lifts are that they are more stable and can reach greater heights at unique angles.
Some of the limitations of using mobile aerial work platforms are the shorter reach, platform size, and comparable lack of stability. Some of the limitations of using a cherry picker are that they're more challenging to transport from site to site, and less budget-friendly.
It is essential to have a boom lift with the proper specifications that match the needs of your site. Some ways to ensure the safety of your site, other than choosing the right boom lift, are to ensure your operator has all the credentials needed to operate, make sure the terrain is optimal, and that your site is adhering to the safety regulations.
Ensure that your boom lift is in good condition before use by checking the stabilizers. Shake them to ensure there isn't too much movement, as excessive movement can indicate poor conditions and put your crew at risk. Additionally, it's important to check your machine's hoses since they are exposed to the elements and are at risk of wear and tear.
If you're still not confident either boom lift is right for your project, learn more about other lifts and check out some more of our articles.
- Articulating Boom Lifts vs Straight Boom Lifts
- The Best Articulating Boom Lift Brands
- Electric vs Non-Electric Articulating Boom Lifts
Renting Boom Lifts for Your Project
Renting boom lifts has many advantages over buying them due to the flexibility and cost-effectiveness it offers. Renting also allows you to access a wide range of boom lifts tailored to specific project needs, no matter the project. This leaves you free of ownership costs, maintenance, storage, and long-term commitment.
It's important to make sure that you're selecting the right rental and you consider a few more factors in your decision. Making sure the machines you're renting are optimal for your job, and ensuring that the company you rent through has a reputation for reliability are a couple of the additional factors to consider.