Forklift Comparison: Diesel vs Electric


Forklifts are vital in warehouses or storerooms, transporting and stocking heavy goods. Without this equipment, moving materials or reaching those up high would be hectic, time-consuming and less efficient.

Forklifts have different types with different functions and features, engine type being a major one. The engine plays a vital role in the performance of a forklift and comes in two categories- electric and diesel. Knowing which is better for your needs will depend on several factors, including the kind of work and the cost of the operation. To help you decide, here is a comparison of the two.

Factors That Influence Choice Of Forklift Engine 

There are two most popular forklift engine types- diesel and electric. Both of these forklifts can perform their duties and help you in handling materials within your warehouse or storeroom. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. But the one you choose will depend on the following factors:

· The work you need to do

· Duration of work

· Operation cost

· Company budget

· Type of worksite

Electric forklifts can handle some duties their diesel counterparts can and vice versa. Therefore, most industries focus on investing in both variants to compensate for the duties the other can’t perform. 

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Diesel vs Electric forklifts

Both forklifts do the same job, but their functioning makes them different. Both handle heavy goods and safely transport them to the designated locations. The main difference comes in their usage.

Diesel Forklifts

These are larger, more powerful and most suitable for outdoor usage. They have more engine power than electric ones and can handle rough terrains. However, they are noisy, which might not be an issue since they mainly operate outdoors. On the other hand, a major advantage these forklifts offer is they can operate for prolonged hours without running out of fuel. And when they do, it only takes a few minutes to refill the fuel tanks, and you are back in operation. 

With diesel forklifts, you don’t need extra space for charging batteries, and your workers can park them anywhere. However, one major drawback these forklifts have is they cannot seamlessly operate indoors because of the noise and emission of toxic fumes, which are harmful to humans and the environment. But, if you must use one for indoor operation, you must have specialised training and certification.

Also, the venting system must maintain a constant flow of fresh air, a feature that most old warehouses and storerooms lack.

Some disadvantages of diesel trucks include the following:

· Loud noise

· They are bigger and bulky, thus restricting manoeuvrability

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· High maintenance cost

· High carbon emission

· High running cost because you have to refill the fuel

· Restricted indoor use


· The low initial cost of purchase

· High load capacity

· Can handle any outdoor terrain

· The best for rugged operations

· High gradeability

· High torque

· Better ground clearance

Electric Forklifts

Electric counterbalance forklifts have been in use in several industries for quite a while. However, their popularity was recently proclaimed due to their environmental conservativeness and cost. Electric forklifts have a smaller and more compact swivelling radius, making them the best choice for indoor operations and warehouses. In addition, these pieces of equipment don’t emit harmful fumes, making them more friendly to the environment.

Today, the most produced forklifts are electric. Although smaller, they are the easiest to manoeuvre when working in tight spaces or corners. Their operation is quite easy as it does not involve using a clutch. The major downside to these forklifts is that they run out of power quickly, requiring frequent recharging or replacement of the battery. Charging may take time and require a specific amount of voltage which will require you to create a special charging spot for it if the building doesn’t have the same power voltage outlet. 

Electric trucks have fewer moving parts, thus reducing the chances of breakage or damage due to operation. This reduces the maintenance cost as well. Some major downsides of electric trucks include the following: 

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· Waiting till full charge might impact the work period

· Rarely suitable for outdoor use

· High initial cost

· Limited battery power


· Less carbon emission

· Light and simple to use

· No noise

· Lower operational cost

· Speed limit control 

· Low maintenance and

· The best safety features

Final Verdict

When buying a forklift for your business, it is best to invest in one that best suits all your operation needs and gives you a better Return On Investment. This is why it’s always best to conduct intensive research before getting to the market. You can choose an electric one for better environmental impact, a modern high-tech forklift capable of handling all your indoor activities and some selected outdoor ones. If you choose a diesel forklift, you get a low-maintenance, easy-to-use forklift that can handle heavier loads and outdoor terrains.

The type of forklift you choose depends on what your needs are. Moreover, you can get both for handling indoor and outdoor duties. Either way, these pieces of equipment will give you the best services to meet all your warehouse needs and give operators an easy time while increasing efficiency and productivity.

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