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5 Types of Scissor Lifts & Their Uses in Construction

5 Types of Scissor Lifts & Their Uses in Construction

A scissor lift is a useful piece of equipment to have on a construction site. Providing a safe, steady enclosure and a rising platform, a scissor lift helps workers accomplish precise tasks at high elevations, from close inspections to cable wiring.

A scissor lift is a type of construction lift, which is machinery equipped with a platform to elevate workers and loads to high areas. Construction lifts include different types of scissor lifts and boom lifts — however, there are key differences between them. While a scissor lift reaches a shorter height and only moves up and down, it can lift multiple workers at once, making it a more logical and affordable option for projects where height is not a concern.

Scissor lifts vary in size, application, and fuel type. Here are the five main types of scissor lifts that are seen on the worksite.


Hydraulic scissor lifts are powered by hand-operated or engine-driven hydraulic systems. The changing pressure of the hydraulic oil in the machine helps to operate the lift and move the platform up and down. Since a hydraulic scissor lift is relatively easy to operate, users aren’t required to undergo much training, making it a simple option when you have lifting needs.

Since oil becomes more viscous in lower temperatures, hydraulic scissor lifts are much slower to operate in colder weather. Although this issue has been addressed in newer models, hydraulic scissor lifts are generally best suited for projects where speed and horsepower are not priorities.

Hydrolic Scissor Lift



Diesel scissor lifts are among the most commonly used lifts on construction sites. Their signature cross-braced system allows them to reach a height of 30 feet, with certain models extending as high as 60 feet.

Since a diesel lift is powered by traditional diesel fuel, they are noisy and emit fumes into the environment. Therefore, they are usually reserved for outdoor construction sites or areas where ventilation is present and noise can dissipate. Their hefty design also provides them with a larger aerial platform.

Diesel Scissor Lift



Electric scissor lifts are another popular aerial platform machine. An alternative to burning fuel, electric scissor lifts feature a silent, powered drive mechanism. Since they do not emit fumes or noise, electric scissor lifts provide a cleaner solution for indoor spaces, which often have insufficient ventilation. These machines are also less bulky than their diesel counterparts, making them optimal in smaller spaces.

Electric Scissor Lift


Rough Terrain

Rough terrain scissor lifts are also designed exclusively for outdoor terrain. They come equipped with a high weight capacity, heavy duty tires, and additional safety mechanisms like fall restraints and arrestors. This makes them ideal for work sites with uneven surfaces and slopes, as well as projects that take place in inclement weather.

Rough terrain scissor lifts can provide elevation of up to 50 feet and widths up to 10 feet. The machines are powered by diesel, gas, liquid propane, or dual fuel.

Rough Terrain Scissor Lift



Pneumatic scissor lifts use air pressure as their lifting mechanism. Compared to traditional lifts, this lift does not emit hazardous fumes or by-products into the environment, making it a more sustainable option for companies looking to minimize their carbon footprint.

How does it work? A pneumatic scissor lift vacuums and compresses atmospheric air. Since they have no fuel, they do not provide as much power as a rough terrain or diesel lift. However, since they require only air, the machinery can be used in almost any environment, including indoor facilities.

Pneumatic Scissor Lift


What Kind of Scissor Lift Do You Need for Your Project?

Choosing the right scissor lift is crucial to satisfying your project needs. In addition to the terrain conditions and power supply explained in the scissor lift types, you’ll also want to consider factors such as the weight of what you want to lift, lift strength and height, the stability of the load, loading method, and your desired platform size.

All these factors impact each other and must all be considered as part of the equation when selecting a scissor lift. For more information, check out our guide on figuring out which scissor lift is right for you.

Scissor Lift Diagram


Offering a mix of power, lift capacity, and mobility, scissor lifts can be instrumental in your construction site or warehouse operations. Whether you need the silent, clean operation of an electric scissor lift or the rugged maneuverability of a rough terrain scissor lift, BigRentz can offer you an expert opinion on our selection of scissor lift rentals.

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