Should You Choose Electric or Gas Forklifts?
You need to invest in a new lift truck for your fleet, or maybe you’re purchasing several trucks for a new facility or distribution center, and you haven’t yet decided between propane-powered (LPG) lifts and those that run on rechargeable batteries. You’ll need to calculate cost into the equation of course, but this shouldn’t be the only deciding factor. And even if budget constraints are your primary concern, you’ll need to consider costs over both the long and short term. As you review the pros and cons of each option, ask yourself the following questions.
How is your workspace designed?
Indoor work areas with very little ventilation are a poor match for propane lift trucks. Set cost aside for the moment and evaluate the impact of propane fumes on employee safety and health, and make sure you examine the storage area where you intend to store, maintain and refill unused tanks. Propane fueled trucks can also create far more noise, which can become an additional safety hazard. Batteries are usually a wiser option in enclosed spaces.
How experienced are your employees?
If your team of employees generally possess greater skill, training or experience with one power source than the other, you’ll need to factor the time and cost of a training program into your decision. Improper use and poor maintenance can create serious problems and compounding costs in both categories. Generally, propane tanks are easier to maintain and replace the battery systems. If employees accidentally leave a battery uncharged for the night, this can lead to serious productivity problems the next day. By contrast, when gas-powered lift trucks run low on fuel, they usually just need a simple tank change.
What are your long-term budget limitations?
Battery fueled trucks are usually more expensive at the outset, but their long-term fuel costs are typically lower. At the same time, battery-operated trucks may experience compromised performance in very cold or wet weather conditions and may lack the drive and torque necessary to accomplish certain tasks. At the same time, the major components of most battery-operated lifts are expected to last longer than their gas-powered counterparts.
Consider all aspects of green use.
In most cases, battery operated lifts are greener and more environmentally sound than propane trucks, but this comparison may not hold up if batteries are improperly stored or improperly recycled after use. Keep this in mind as you make your decision.