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Guide to Scissor Lifts

Guide to scissor lifts

A significant amount of construction involves working high up. Eventually, the buildings you develop will have stairs and elevators, but before that, you have to have a way to reach those upper floors so you can build them. Some of this can be accomplished through ladders and boom lifts, but what about when you need to transport multiple people or heavy materials?

Scissor lifts are the perfect tool for this scenario. But what is a scissor lift?

Scissor lifts are machines designed to carry people and objects to higher levels, though in a purely vertical direction. Though they can’t reach as high as most boom lifts, they’re capable of lifting much heavier loads, and they do it all safely and efficiently. This feature contributes significantly to what industries use scissor lifts and what they’re used for, as they’re very helpful in construction and warehouses.

What Types of Scissor Lifts Are There?

Even if you know you want a scissor lift, you may not be sure which type to get. A handful of options are available, each of which carries its own advantages. There’s no single “best” option — it all depends on who uses the scissor lifts and what their needs are.

Diesel

Diesel scissor lifts are some of the most common lifts across different industries. They’re powered by diesel fuel, which gives them significantly greater power, enabling them to lift heavier loads to greater heights. However, it means they’re considerably louder than many other types.

Because they burn diesel fuel, they also emit fumes that can build to toxic levels indoors. Paired with the noise, these fumes make them best for outdoor work.

Electric

Electric lifts are a cleaner alternative to diesel. They use electric motors instead of burning fuel. This arrangement provides them with several benefits — they’re quieter, more environmentally friendly and generally smaller than diesel lifts. However, without the power supplied by diesel fuel, they can’t lift as much weight. They also have to be recharged, which takes longer than refueling.

Since they’re quieter and don’t emit fumes, electric lifts are great for using indoors and are usually designed with this environment in mind.

Rough Terrain

Diesel lifts have plenty of power, but sometimes you still need a little more to get the job done. That’s what rough terrain scissor lifts are for. Powered by gasoline or diesel, they’re engineered to produce extra speed and force. Like regular diesel lifts, they emit a lot of noise and a lot of fumes, so they’re best suited for outdoors.

Hydraulic

Hydraulic scissor lifts are some of the easiest to operate. Powered by hand or by electric motors, they move up and down by compressing hydraulic oil. The changing pressure of the oil forces the lift up and lets it down.

Because these lifts are so simple, they require minimal training to operate. However, because the oil’s viscosity is affected by temperature, they’re much slower in cold weather. They can be operated both indoors and outdoors.

Pneumatic

Pneumatic lifts function somewhat similarly to hydraulic lifts. Instead of using oil, however, they use compressed air. As with hydraulic lifts, they’re simple to operate and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Since they aren’t powered by fuel, they don’t have as much power as some other types of lifts, but they’re among the most environmentally friendly.

How Much Weight Can Scissor Lifts Hold?

One of the defining features of scissor lifts is their ability to lift significant amounts of weight. But just how much weight can they take?

The answer depends largely on factors like the type of lift and the specific model. A rough terrain lift will be able to handle much more than an electric one, for example, leading to a lot of disparity between different models. In general, though, the majority of scissor lifts can handle somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds, with some models capable of lifting up to 2,500 pounds.

For comparison, most articulated and telescopic boom lifts tend to be capable of handling up to around 600 pounds. That’s a significant difference!

How High Can Scissor Lifts Reach?

One of the tradeoffs in construction lifts exists between weight and height. Because scissor lifts can carry so much weight, they typically can’t reach as high as boom lifts.

But that’s not to say that scissor lifts can’t still reach significant heights — otherwise, they wouldn’t serve any meaningful function! How high can scissor lifts reach, then?

As with weight, it varies depending on type and model. But many scissor lifts can get as high as 50 or 60 feet. For carrying so much weight, that’s an impressive height, and very useful for transporting people and materials to upper levels of construction.

How Do Scissor Lifts Operate?

It’s clear what scissor lifts do, but what’s not so clear is how they do it. What causes them to move up and down? What keeps them from being pushed down by the weight they carry? In other words, how does a scissor lift work?

In truth, it’s not usually hard to learn how to operate a scissor lift. The process starts with the operator running all the necessary initial checks. Then they operate the controls to make the lift go up.

When they push the button, they release liquid or air into the lift cylinder, which is the tube that runs next to the scissoring metal bars. As the liquid or air is forced up the cylinder, it pushes out the bar inserted above it, which is attached to the lift platform.

The result is that as liquid or air moves further up the cylinder, the lift is pushed upward, with the scissoring bars providing support for it. Its position is sustained by high pressure inside the lift cylinder, as well as by a check valve that keeps it from continuing upward once it’s where the operator wants it.

When the operator brings the lift down again, the whole process happens in reverse — the pressure is slowly decreased, sending the liquid or air back down the cylinder and allowing the platform to lower. A down valve regulates how quickly the pressure is released so the platform doesn’t come crashing down at top speed.

The exact nature of the process, such as the substance pushed up the cylinder and the speed at which the movement occurs, varies between different scissor lift types.

Find the Right Scissor Lift for Rent

If you’re looking for a scissor lift to rent for your construction site, Ohio Cat Rental Store has your back. We’re committed to providing the highest quality equipment in the industry, and we offer an array of options that you can choose from to find the lift that best suits your needs.

To see the options available to you, take a look at our scissor lift selection. Then, to start the rental process, just get in touch with us today. We can’t wait to help you find the best lift for your business!