Electric forklifts, diesel or propane: which is better?

You can hire or purchase a new or used forklift via CFAO Equipment SA or one of its many divisions, namely 600SA, Toyota Forklift, TUF Forklift or Heavy Lift. However before doing so consider that forklifts are different and are powered either by diesel, electricity, or LPG. Below are a few of the many advantages and disadvantages of each fuel type.

Electric Forklifts

Electric forklifts are powered either by lead-acid batteries or lithium-ion forklift batteries. Lead-acid batteries cost less upfront but have a long-term return on investment compared to lithium-ion batteries, and each has its own set of pros and cons when it comes to performance, maintenance, and lifespan. However, the overall advantages of an electric-powered forklift include:

Electric Forklift Advantages

  • The electric forklift produces close to zero tailpipe emissions and is quieter to operate, thereby contributing towards a healthier and safer environment for your employees.
  • With the stable price of electricity compared to the varied and rising costs of fuel, the electric forklift provides a consistent way in which to manage your operational budgets.
  • A lower centre of gravity makes electric forklifts more stable and often has a higher height lifting capacity than their fuel counterpart.
  • Without engines, transmissions and radiators electric forklifts require less planned maintenance and repairs, thereby ensuring cost savings and more operational uptime.
  • You will not require additional batteries as spare, for lithium-iron and can be re-charged at any time, even though tea and lunch breaks

Electric Forklift Disadvantages

  • The initial purchase price or capital costs required for an electric forklift is significantly higher than that of diesel forklifts.
  • Whilst outside, on-site fuel storage is eliminated when it comes to hiring or purchasing an electric forklift, an investment into setting up a battery recharge station will be required which also requires an investment.
  • Electric forklifts operate using expensive industrial forklift batteries. The lead-acid forklift battery requires monthly cleaning and watering, whereas Lithium-ion batteries are maintenance-free.
  • You will require additional batteries as spares, for lead-acid. Lead-acid batteries take up to 8 hours to fully charge a battery and another 8 hours to cool down before use. You will require fewer lithium-ion forklift batteries.

Diesel forklifts

Forklifts powered by diesel have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Diesel Forklift Advantages

  • The initial costs or capital required to purchase a new or used diesel-operated forklift are less than that of an electric forklift.
  • Diesel forklifts offer great torque at low RPM.
  • A workhorse offering convenience. A diesel forklift does not require the time for battery recharging. When the forklift is low on fuel, simply fill the tank with diesel to continue operations.
  • Great for outdoor use

Diesel Forklift Disadvantages

  • Your business requires on-site fuel storage, which would increase safety and risk as well as liability cover.
  • A diesel forklift is not suitable for indoor use due to emissions that it releases into the environment, which can have an impact on employee or environmental health.
  • The rising costs of fuel will have an impact on the costs of operations.
  • Diesel forklifts are quite noisy to operate, which may impact employee wellbeing.

LPG or Propane Forklifts

LPG forklifts are almost identical to diesel-powered forklifts, except that they use liquified petroleum gas as a power source.

LPG Forklift Advantages:

  • LPG forklifts are acceptable for most indoor and outdoor applications.
  • They are more environmentally friendly, compared to diesel forklifts.
  • Quick refuelling as it takes less than five minutes to change the LPG bottle compared to the time it takes to recharge an electric forklift.
  • Longer shift operating time
  • Reduced costs as you do not need to purchase additional forklift batteries as spares.

LPG Forklift Disadvantages

  • In cold to freezing temperatures, LPG Forklifts can be more difficult to start and operate.
  • Ensuring a consistent supply of LPG for your forklift to operate could be limited from time to time, depending on the supply and availability of LPG.
  • The increased liability exposure for your business due to the possibility of fuel system leaks
  • Safety must be monitored continuously, and forklift operators are to be trained on how to safely handle LPG bottles.

The abovementioned list of forklift fuel type advantages and disadvantages is by no means comprehensive. As forklift specialists, we offer a wide range of electric, diesel and LPG forklifts in Gauteng, Durban, Cape Town and throughout South Africa. If you need assistance in selecting the correct forklift fuel type that best suit your operations, contact our sales team who are on standby to assist you.

Alternatively view our used forklifts for sale page by clicking here.

Contact Us

In need of additional support? Complete the contact form below and we’ll get back to you.

Callback Request
* Required fields

Keep in Touch

We would like to stay in touch with you to keep up to date with our latest product news, marketing services and offers. If you would prefer not to receive future information by either of the methods below please indicate by un-selecting the option. All information provided will be used in accordance with our Privacy and Cookie Policy and not shared with any 3rd party company. For more information please click here.