What is the best power for my forklift? Electric or diesel? We will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these two differing options below. Although battery life is a concern, electric forklifts are quick, clean, great indoors and quiet. On the other hand, diesel forklifts are cheap to fuel and great for heavy lifting and outdoor work.
If you are an eco-conscious business owner battery powered electric forklifts are probably more desirable to you. They do not emit harmful gases and waste into the air as they are fume-free in action. The forklifts need a massive battery to power them. Interestingly enough this battery weighs so much that it works as an effective counterbalance which in turn makes these forklifts easier to maneuver.
Recharging a battery overnight costs considerably less than refueling gas or diesel tanks. Newer forklift operators may also find it easier to drive the electric models as they only have two pedals—a brake pedal and an accelerator. Unlike other models they do not have a clutch pedal and the driver does need to ‘rev’ the engine when starting on an incline. Finally, electric forklifts cost less to repair because the engines are simpler and they have fewer moving components.
While the electric forklifts are cheaper to operate there is a considerable cost to factor in if you are changing over from more traditional methods. The initial cost is high because of the battery and the charger. If space is an issue in your warehouse then this may be another disadvantage because additional space needs to set aside for a charging station.
Another difference when comparing diesel and gas/electric forklifts is considering what main function the machine will be used for. Diesel forklifts are superior and preferred for outdoor use. They also use less fuel than their gas powered counterparts. An average fuel tank of 50 liters of diesel will last longer than an 18 kg bottle of gas in similar usage. Diesel forklifts are better on gradients and have stronger towing capabilities because of their higher torque.
Forklifts powered by diesel are stronger than electric ones. They accelerate faster and can lift heavier loads. Battery life in these forklifts can also sustain accessories like hydraulic fork spreaders, tipplers and clamps. Maintenance of diesel lifts is considerably less than gas because of the engine's stronger design and the fact that they operate at lower ‘revs’. Diesel engines have longer shelf lives as well.
Although Diesel engines have many advantages the compromise comes at a price. They are bulkier, noisier and dirtier than their electric counterparts. They are cheaper than electric forklifts, but more expensive than gas powered trucks. Each type of forklifts are strong and reliable machines and each have specific uses and functions.