How to Choose the Right Scissor Lift for the Job

Choosing the right access equipment is an essential first step for your next project. Understanding the specific job requirements for a project can help you determine what scissor lift to hire. Access hire can be expensive, and bringing your equipment out to the project zone just to find out it doesn't fit your needs can waste time and money! MEWPS (Mobile elevated work platforms) come in all sizes and shapes, and so making sure that you've properly researched and prepared is an essential step. We'll dive into some factors that you need to consider when looking into scissor lift hire.

Factors to consider when choosing a scissor lift


1.Working height

Scissor lifts consist of a railed platform mounted on accordion-style legs that expand and contract like scissors (giving scissor lifts their name). They come in a variety of height ranges, depending on the job that needs to be done. Smaller scissor lifts can range from 5 to 10 meters high. These are great for reaching ceilings and ducting inside warehouses. These are typically smaller and can easily be manoeuvred around buildings. On the larger scale, scissor lifts can reach 15-22 meters high. These are made for working on the exterior of large buildings for jobs that include cladding, roofing, and window fitting. These heights require stable ground in order to work properly. Find out the minimum and maximum height required for your job and you'll be on the right track to finding the right scissor lift.  

2.Load Capacity

You'll also want to choose a lift with a deck that can hold all the necessary equipment. The weight capacity and maximum personnel limit will need to be will be a determining factor in the scissor lift that you choose. The capacity is quite variable. You can find scissor lifts that can carry 750 pounds and two people to 1500 pounds and six people.  


Knowing the scissor lift sizes that you'll be working with is essential to a well-organised project. Is there any space restriction in the area you'll be working? If it's indoors, you'll need to make sure that it can easily fit through narrow doorways and be able to manoeuvre around rooms. Narrow scissor lifts are available to work in environments such as this. You'll also need to make sure the platform size suits the job that you're intending to carry out. Will your scissor lift need to hold multiple workers? Maybe paint or window installation equipment as well? Larger platforms will offer better access and keep you from having to adjust and reposition as the job progresses. Another point to consider is deck extensions. Some scissor lifts can create larger platforms if more space is needed. Though it's important to take safety into consideration when dealing with extensions. They will shift the scissor lift's centre of gravity and so care should be taken when adjusting the platform to make sure the load is even.  

4.Type of Environment

The work environment will inevitably have an effect on the type of scissor lift that you use for your project. Not all projects will have a flat surface to work on. Some lifts can work in rough uneven terrain, while others will not. You may find that you need to move around overhead obstructions. With all these factors at play, choosing the right lift for the job is essential. There are typically three different types of lifts that you can choose from; electric, diesel, and hybrid.  

Indoor/Smooth Terrain: Electric scissor lifts

Electric scissor lifts (sometimes called slab scissor lifts) are battery-driven, and so are ideal for indoor work as you'll easily be able to find a plug socket to power the lift. The battery-powered lifts are also low emission and quiet, making them perfect for the environmentally conscious. Electric lifts will typically be used for ducting, electric, or indoor work. They can be used outdoors, but always check with the operator's manual or speak to our hire team beforehand. They can typically only be used outdoors if you know that they won't encounter uneven ground during the project. They can also be driven at height, making it easier to work on industrial lighting, electric cabling and scissor systems.  

Rough terrain: Diesel Scissor Lifts

If your scissor lift will be working on uneven ground outside, then a rough terrain scissor lift will ensure that your workers stay safe while being able to get the job done. These typically come in four-wheel drive making them perfect for manoeuvring around muddy terrain. Rough and uneven terrain is nothing for these lifts. A Four wheel drive model can manoeuvre high gradability (sometimes up to 50%)!  


If you're unsure of the terrain or plan on using your scissor lift for multiple projects, then a hybrid can easily take you through rough terrain and indoor jobs. With diesel and electricity, you can power your scissor lift however is most convenient to the terrain you're working in. They have the manoeuvrability of rough terrain scissor lifts  

Want More on Scissor Lifts?

If you're in the market for scissor lift rentals, then you're in the right place. All our equipment is available for hire or to buy in either a fleet or as a single MEWP. If you’d like to learn more about scissor lifts, check out our articles on scissor lift safety tips, or how to use a scissor lift outside.