3 Differences Between Electric Forklifts And Internal Combustion Lift Trucks

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When your business depends on forklifts to run, it’s essential that you research your options when buying new forklifts to add to your fleet. The differences between electric and internal combustion lift trucks are plenty. For the same load capacity, forklifts differ in three main ways.

Summary Of Differences Between Electric Forklifts And Internal Combustion Lift Trucks


Fueling & Refueling


Electric Forklifts


1 Battery lasts 5-8 hours

8-Hr Charge Cycle

Low Fueling Costs


IC Lift Trucks


1 LPG tank lasts for an 8-hr shift

< 5mins to refuel

High Fueling Costs


1. Forklift Usage

One type of forklift is better than the other depending on where you’re using it to move items.

Are most of your material handling activities indoors? An electric forklift is best. Its compact build means it’s easy to maneuver between aisles. And since it emits little to zero emissions, an electric forklift is perfect for clean environments such as a food processing area.

For handling materials outside, internal combustion (IC) lift trucks are preferred. They are made to be waterproof and can run at full capacity, within reasonable weather conditions. Internal combustion forklifts are known to emit fumes. That’s why they’re more effective outdoors where you don’t need to constantly ventilate the space.

2. Fueling & Refueling Your Forklift

Electric forklifts use a battery to power the entire system. It can last anywhere between 5 to 8 hours based on how old the battery is and how well maintained the lift truck is. When the battery is drained, you have to charge it for 8 hours to restore it to full capacity.

When you need to use an electric forklift for more than one shift, it’s helpful to have 2 or 3 batteries fully charged and on hand. Keep in mind that it may take up to 45 mins to switch out the battery, and the charging station may take up more space than you have in your facility.

That said, charging technology is advancing every day. You can now charge faster, eliminating the need for multiple batteries and change-outs. This also makes for a safer environment and reduces opportunity for workplace injury.

Internal combustion lift trucks use fossil fuels such as diesel, gasoline, and liquid propane gas (LPG) for power. One LPG tank can last the entirety of an 8-hr shift. And refueling it takes less than 5 minutes. This means you can get back to moving more materials.

Overall, electric forklifts lead to lower hourly fuel costs than internal combustion trucks. Charging batteries costs almost half as much as LPG does on average.

3. Forklift Maintenance

Electric forklifts have lower maintenance costs than internal combustion trucks. Electric forklifts have less moving parts, which means less upkeep. The simplistic mechanical setup as well as alternative AC motor technology leads to less repairs and reduced fire hazards.

If your facility is not set up for the demands of regular forklift maintenance - or if your business does not have the budget for it, you are better positioned to add electric forklifts to your fleet.

Contact Us About Electric vs IC Forklifts In Indiana

If you have more questions about electric and internal combustion forklifts, our experts would be happy to answer them. We’ll help you assess the material handling needs of your business, wherever you are in Indiana. Contact us to get more information on forklifts today!

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