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SCISSOR LIFTS VS. BOOM LIFTS: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?

08 FEBRUARY 2019

If you've got a job coming up that requires access to high spaces, you might be thinking about cherry picker hire. But which type?
Scissor lifts and boom lifts both offer high reach, but there are some big differences in capabilities that could be deal-breakers when deciding which type of elevated work platform (EWP) is the best fit for your needs.

What are scissor lifts?

Scissor lifts use a foldable support structure that functions like a spring as it extends upwards to carry personnel and equipment safely to height. While a small scissor lift may only have space for one  or several workers, larger platforms can accommodate a whole team, with barriers keeping them safely enclosed.

What are boom lifts?

Boom lifts (or cherry pickers) have a more compact platform or bucket that's elevated using a hydraulic lift. There are two main types of boom lifts:

Straight booms – telescopic boom lifts offer the highest vertical reach of any access equipment, over 40 metres (135 feet).

Knuckle booms – articulating boom lifts with jointed arms lack the height of straight booms, but they make up for it in improved access when an up and over approach is required.

To decide what type of access hire is right for your project, ask yourself the following questions:

How high do I need to reach?

Straight boom lifts are king when it comes to vertical reach, offering two to three times the height of scissor lifts. This could be the deciding factor if you're working on a tall structure or trees, but a scissor lift could also be an option at heights below 20 metres.

Do I need to reach around obstacles?

Knuckle booms can be guided over, under and around obstacles for access to areas that would otherwise be hard to reach. Many straight booms can also be set at a range of angles for upward or downward reach, whereas scissor lifts are limited to straight vertical movement.

How many people do I need to lift?

Larger platforms make scissor lifts the best option for lifting multiple personnel at the same time, along with equipment and materials. Boom lifts can normally only accommodate a single worker.

Will it be used indoors or outdoors?

Boom lifts are most commonly used outdoors, while most scissor lifts are designed for indoor use in factories, warehouses and other enclosed spaces. The exception is rough terrain scissor lifts, which can be used on construction sites and other outdoor areas.

Do I need a licence?

If you or your team will be working at heights above 11 metres, you'll need specialised EWP training as well as a High Risk Work Licence.

A high risk licence isn't required if you're working at heights below 11m, but you'll still need to complete scissor lift training to obtain an EWPA Yellow Card.

What's my budget?

Scissor lifts are cheaper to hire than boom lifts, as well as easier to operate, so they could be the best option on a limited budget. But if you need that extra reach or manoeuvrability, there's no substitute for a boom lift.

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