Andrew Johnson|

Boom Lifts vs. Scissor Lifts

Whether you run a construction business or are working on a DIY project, any labor that requires you to work while elevated off the ground demands extra safety and care. As a result, these jobs often call for specialized equipment, such as an aerial lift. When this is the case, it?s crucial to pick the right type of lift for your needs. Using a boom lift or a scissor lift is a very different experience, requires different skills, and has different benefits. This guide to these types of lifts can help you determine what equipment is right for your next job.

What Is a Boom Lift?

Often referred to as cherry pickers, boom lifts utilize a long arm (known as a boom) with a basket or small platform at the end to maneuver in three dimensions and grant workers access to hard-to-reach spaces. They are typically grounded at the base to keep the lift stable and utilize hydraulics to manipulate the boom. In general, these tools are safe for both indoor and outdoor use, and the platform at the end of the boom tends to be only large enough for one person.

Types of Boom Lifts

There are three main types of boom lifts:

  • Articulating boom lifts feature a boom with multiple joints that allow it to bend. This gives the user finer control and greater flexibility.
  • Telescoping lifts have a boom that can extend, so they can reach higher than other lifts.
  • Tracked and spider lifts are self-propelled units designed to fit into tight spaces. You?ll see these used frequently by linesmen and tree care professionals. 

What Is a Scissor Lift?

Instead of relying on a boom to reach great heights, scissor lifts utilize a system of cross-hatched braces that articulate like scissors. When closed, these braces fold in on themselves and allow the platform to lower; when opened, they cause the vehicle?s platform to lift. A scissor lift usually has a large, wide platform that offers enough space for multiple people and a sizable amount of equipment to be lifted. Scissor lifts only go up and down, and the base of the vehicle must stay level to keep the lift balanced. 

Types of Scissor Lifts

The general design of scissor lifts is largely consistent across brands and types, but they can be powered through various means. Most commonly, scissor lifts are powered by electric motors or diesel engines. However, there are also pneumatic models, which are the most energy efficient and are ideal for small jobs. Additionally, some brands make models designed for rough terrain, which can be adjusted to maintain safety on uneven ground.

The Differences Between Boom Lifts and Scissor Lifts

At first glance, the most noticeable difference between a boom lift and a scissor lift is the size of the platform that can be raised. Boom lifts generally have a bucket or small platform attached to the end of the boom, and they?re safe for only one or two people at a time to use. The small size of the platform also limits the amount of gear a worker can have on them, making wearable items and utility belts a higher priority.

On the other hand, scissor lifts all come with a much larger platform. As many as four or five people can fit on a scissor lift at once, and there?s plenty of room for paint, construction materials, goods that need to be put away, and other tools necessary for the job. 

Scissor lifts also have a much shorter maximum lift height than boom lifts. Most scissor lifts extend up to 60 feet high, whereas boom lifts can reach much higher. Articulating boom lifts often have a range of 60 to 135 feet, and telescoping boom lifts can easily reach over 200 feet. 

The available range of motion also varies greatly when comparing boom lifts to scissor lifts. Most boom lifts can swivel 360 degrees, allowing workers to reach anywhere within the lift?s range. Scissor lifts are more limited. They can only go directly up and down, meaning that workers need to be adjacent to whatever area they need to work on.

When to Use a Boom Lift vs. a Scissor Lift

Choosing the right lift for the job can streamline your project and save you time and money. If you need multiple people working in the same area, or if you need to carry a lot of equipment with you, a scissor lift will be much more useful to you. They?re ideal for stacking, loading inventory, and painting. If you need to reach over 60 feet, or if you need a wider range of motion, your best choice will be the boom lift. They?re useful for picking fruit, working on power lines, trimming trees, and putting up scaffolding.

Lift Solutions From Aerial Titans

Your work demands the safest top-quality lift equipment, and that?s where we come in. Our selection of new and used boom lifts and scissor lifts means you?ll find the specs you need for prices you can afford. Find the right equipment for your job and contact our sales team for the next steps.

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