How to Choose the Right Scissor Lift


Choose the right lift for the job

With so many choices of scissor lifts, how do you know which one is right for the job at hand? First, you'll need to evaluate the job that needs to be completed and its surrounding workspace. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will there be wind present?
  • What are the ground conditions?
  • Is the location of work hard to get to? Tight turns? Narrow hallways?
  • Are there any delicate or restricted weight areas the lift will need to work on or drive over?
  • How high is the work that needs to be done?
  • Does the floor need to be protected from hydraulic oil drips?
  • Is precision maneuverability important?
  • Will the lift have to pass through multiple doorways?

Keep reading to determine the best scissor lift choice for your jobsite.

Wind Rated

Will there be wind present where you're working? If so, you'll need to make sure you choose a scissor lift that's rated for work in a windy environment. If wind speeds are above 28 mph, work in a non-wind rated scissor lift can become dangerous, creating a potential tip-over hazard.

Pro Tip: Make sure to check a lift's outdoor ratings as many scissor lifts have two ratings: one for indoor use and one for outdoor use.

Ground Conditions

What are the ground conditions the scissor lift will be working on? If the ground is rough and uneven, a rough terrain lift should be chosen as they're designed to work in those conditions. If you'll be working on a firm level surface, an electric slab scissor lift would be the best choice.


Indoor/Outdoor Controls

Upper control on the Hy-Brid Lifts Pro Series with indoor/outdoor selection.

Computer Flooring requires lightweight lifts to prevent damage

Areas with raised floor panels can only be accessed with lightweight scissor lifts.

Hard to Access Locations

Will the location of work be hard to get to? As jobsites get more complex, the ability to get equipment like scissor lifts into a small room at the end of a hallway becomes more difficult. To combat this, manufacturers produce a variety of models for varying jobsite complexities, such as small compact push-around and zero-turn scissor lifts, to allow access into areas a larger traditional scissor lift wouldn’t be able to access.

Pro Tip: For maximum maneuverability, consider a compact zero-turn scissor lift. These mobile elevating lifts offer precise movements to help operators navigate even the trickiest jobsite.


Sensitive Flooring

Are there any delicate or restricted weight areas the lift will need to work on or drive over? This is an easily overlooked aspect of any job. While it may be easy to get a lift where it needs to go, it might have to travel over sensitive floors, such as tile, which could easily be cracked by the weight of a standard scissor lift. Another scenario is work that needs to be done on a multistory building—will the elevator be able to support the weight of a scissor lift or will you need to have other equipment to get the scissor lift to the higher floors?

Pro Tip: A lightweight scissor lift is less likely to damage sensitive flooring due to low floor load pressures and can fit into most personnel elevators.

Height of Work

How high is the work that needs to be done? While height might seem relatively straight forward, you'll need to ask yourself where are all possible areas you'll need the scissor lift to access. Scissor lift platform height is measured from the ground to the work platform. Working height is measured from the ground to the operator's height, typically 6 ft above platform height. Choosing a lift that's too big can easily lead to lost productivity, increased jobsite damage, and increased chances of injury. Choosing a lift that's too small can also increase the chance of injury as operators may be tempted to misuse the equipment by standing on the rails or using a ladder on the lift platform to reach a work area, presenting a fall hazard.

Pro Tip: Depending on the job, you might need more than one lift size to maximize safety and productivity.


Floor Protection

Does the floor need to be protected from hydraulic oil drips? Take a look at the jobsite and determine if there are finished floors that would be damaged if hydraulic fluid leaked onto it and consider the cost of potential clean up and rework. Cleaning up a leak from hydraulic fluid can be expensive, but there are solutions to this problem. Many scissor lifts come with lift diapers, which wrap underneath lifts to catch potential leaks, and all-electric models are available, which eliminate leaks altogether. You can also choose a scissor lift that has a fluid containment system already built-in.

Pro Tip: While hydraulic oil containment solutions are an upgrade to lift diapers, you need to make sure that they can contain all of the machine's hydraulic fluid if need be. The LeakGuard™ Fluid Containment System by Hy-Brid Lifts offers 110% fluid containment for maximum leak protection.

LeakGuard protects sensitive flooring

The Hy-Brid Lifts LeakGuard™ Fluid Containment System with 110% coverage.

Frame Damage from wrong sized scissor lift

Frame damage caused by a scissor lift too large for this application.

Damage Control

Is precision maneuverability important? Not all lifts are created equal and a machine that doesn't have precise control presents the risk of accidentally damaging finished walls, door frames, and more, creating costly repairs. Anytime hydraulics are used for driving or steering, you sacrifice precision maneuverability that's vital to preventing damage.

So, what are your options to increase control of your scissor lift? The best choice is to use a scissor lift that has electric drive and steer with proportional controls, allowing you to make precise movements at a controlled speed. To further increase maneuverability, look for a scissor lift with a low inside turning radius. It's not all about turning radius though; you'll also need to choose a lift with a compact footprint.

Pro Tip: To lower potential rework costs, choose a scissor lift with proportional electric drive, low inside turning radius, and a compact footprint.


Fold-Down Rails

Will the lift have to pass through multiple doorways? While this might sound like an odd question, the new ANSI A92.20 standard for scissor lift design mandates that railing heights be increased from 39 in to 43.3 in to increase operator safety. You might be saying “So what,” but a significant portion of scissor lifts need to have their rails folded down to fit through standard doorways. Not only does this take extra time, but it also lowers operator productivity to pull pins and fold down rails to go through doorways, then set the rails back up in order to use the lift again. Having a scissor lift with folding rails can also cost you money if the rails are not folded properly and the door frame gets hit by a part of the railing.

Pro Tip: Hy-Brid Lifts offer compact scissor lift designs with working heights up to 25 ft that don't require folding rails to fit through doorways.

Find out who has Hy-Brid Lifts™ in your area.





The premier provider of access equipment offering articulated booms, scissor lifts, telehandlers, and vertical masts.