There are a whole host of different types of forklift engines out there, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. While some are suited best for use in factories, others may be better used on a construction site, and so on.

They are powered by electricity, gas or diesel, and each type has different capabilities when it comes to bearing loads. Here, we’ll be breaking down the main types of forklifts.

Electric forklifts

The most environmentally friendly forklift type available, electric forklifts are great for indoor operation because they have zero emissions. They are also, for the most part, more manoeuvrable than other types of forklifts as they are both lighter and have a concentrated weight where the battery is. Additionally, they are far cheaper to fuel than gas or diesel forklifts – you simply need to charge them up overnight. Controlling and driving an electric forklift is also considerably easier than other types of forklifts, with only a brake and accelerator pedal for controls. And what’s more, the maintenance and servicing costs of an electric forklift is notably cheaper than a fossil fuel powered forklift.

However, any savings you may make there could be offset by the high initial cost of buying an electric forklift. Not only do you have to buy the forklift itself, but you also need to ensure that it has a suitable battery – or batteries if you have back-to-back shifts and need the forklift constantly – and charging point, both of which can be very expensive. You’ll need specialist assistance to see to problems with your electric forklift as opposed to with gas or diesel ones, which you may be able to see to yourself.

Nonetheless, these drawbacks are minor when considering that electric forklifts are relatively easy to drive, so are excellent for those who have just passed their test.

LP Gas forklifts

Gas powered forklifts are by far the most popular style of forklift. Their advantages include:

  • Competitively priced
  • Suitable for both in- and outdoor work
  • More manoeuvrable than diesel forklifts
  • Quieter in use
  • Performance is superior to electric and diesel
  • Exceptional power to weight ratio
  • Responsive engines

There a couple of disadvantages to the use of LPG forklifts, including:

  • High maintenance costs
  • High fuel costs
  • Require topping up with antifreeze every winter

Overall, however, the limitations to LPG forklifts are vastly outweighed by their benefits. It is little surprise that they are used so much throughout the country.

Diesel forklifts

These types of forklifts are best suited for use in outdoor activities. This is namely because of the emissions produced by the engine that make them unsuitable for indoor use, but also because their design makes them highly efficient in outdoor conditions. They work excellently on more uneven surfaces, providing a stability that electric forklifts, for instance, fail to achieve. Because diesel engines provide higher torque, they are great on gradients and can tow or carry heavy items with ease. There is no shortage of power available with a diesel engine, in terms of both acceleration and lift.

As with everything, there are a handful of disadvantages to diesel forklifts. Primarily, diesel engines are louder than other types, and do emit harmful fumes too. They are also considerably larger than their electric counterparts, so require a greater space to operate in. Maintenance costs can also spiral out of control if you have nobody handy with a diesel engine on site, though initial purchase is cheaper.

Because of the greater power and larger vehicle size of a diesel-powered forklift, we recommend experienced drivers should operate them.