Diesel vs. Electric Scissor Lifts: Which Should I Choose?

Scissor lifts come in a variety of makes, models and heights. This can make it hard to know which is the right lift to use for a particular job. Even after you’ve identified the obvious things, like the reach of the lift, there are still other, smaller factors that can affect the use of a machine.   One thing that can have a significant impact on the performance and suitability of a scissor lift for any particular task, is the way that it is powered. Scissor lifts are available using three power sources: diesel, electric and hybrid. Each fuel type is best suited to slightly different jobs. This quick guide will give a brief overview of the three different power sources commonly used by scissor lifts. This information should help you to identify which scissor lift you should choose for the task you need to tackle.

Diesel scissor lifts

Diesel fuelled lifts tend to be classed as outdoor scissor lifts. This is mainly because they are more rugged and bulky. They have bigger tyres, bigger engines and bigger frames. This means they can easily move across uneven terrain.   They are also best used outside as they emit fumes whilst they are in use. If the environmental credentials of your project are a concern, there may be better alternatives that emit less fumes. Diesel scissor lifts also tend to be quite noisy and so this is another reason they are best used outside.   Being bigger and bulkier, diesel scissor lifts can be harder to manoeuvre and store. It is important to make sure your operators are well-trained and confident using this equipment.

Diesel Scissor Lift Advantages

  • Suitable for use as rough terrain scissor lifts
  • Bigger load capacity
  • Able to extend higher

Electric scissor lifts

Electric scissor lifts can be thought of as ‘indoor scissor lifts’ because they are much more suitable for use in enclosed spaces. They are a lot quieter, with some almost completely silent to operate. They also give off no fumes or emissions that cloud the atmosphere.   Electric scissor lifts also tend to be smaller and more agile. They are great for use in tight, awkward or narrow spaces as you can move them about so easily. Their size also makes them a lot easier to store and they are usually a lot quicker to get into position if you are doing a quick or small job.   The disadvantage of an electric versus a diesel lift is that it can be less powerful. Electric lifts are more than sufficient for working at height within buildings or warehouses but aren’t always able to meet the needs of external jobs. You should also consider that they will need to be charged. Though their small stature means this is easily done, they do have a non-negotiable length of use before they need recharging.

Electric Scissor Lift Advantages

  • Quiet
  • Cheaper to run
  • Smaller and more agile
  • Zero emissions

Hybrid scissor lifts

Hybrid or bi-fuel scissor lifts give you the option to change between diesel or electric power when needed, much like hybrid cars.   They are currently considered the future of scissor lifts because they make such a great compromise between the advantages and disadvantages of diesel and electric, with the option to call on more power when necessary or work efficiently in enclosed spaces.   They are not quite as small or nimble as 100% electric scissor lifts, but they have that added power and you don’t have to worry about them running out of charge.


  • The best of both worlds
  • A great solution when you want features of both electric and diesel
  • Added reliability of two power sources
  Star Platforms offer a great variety of scissor lifts for hire or sale, including diesel, electric and hybrid models. Browse our range of scissor lifts or get in touch to discuss your needs with one of our helpful advisors.