Types of Scissor Lifts


Scissor lifts are one category of man lift, or what are now technically referred to as mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs). While there are different kinds of scissor lifts, each is designed for a specific purpose. How do you determine which type of scissor lift is most appropriate for an application? It’s best to take a consultative approach by asking a few leading questions.

How Many Types of Scissor Lifts are There?

Just like there's different types of MEWPs, there's different types of scissor lifts. Most scissor lifts fall into two usage categories, rough terrain or slab. If the ground the scissor lift will be operating on is uneven and/or soft, then a rough terrain scissor would be required. Some rough terrain scissors are equipped with leveling outriggers to compensate for uneven terrain, stabilizing the lift to reach necessary working heights. Rough terrain scissors feature either rough terrain treaded tires to improve traction on a range of soft materials or flotation tires for jobs on sand or grass. Slab scissors, on the other hand, usually feature solid tires and are ideal for level and/or solid work surfaces. Some lift tires can leave marks on finished floors and some will not. If there is a non-marking requirement, only scissors with non-marking tires or those equipped with tire socks would be recommended to minimize or eliminate potential floor damage and rework costs.

Hy-Brid Lifts feature non-marking tires to protect indoor flooring

Most slab scissor lifts have solid, nonmarking tires to protect indoor flooring.

Which Scissor Lift is Right for the Job?

Determining which scissor lift is best for the task at hand is critical to maximizing worker efficiency and the project’s budget. So, to begin choosing which scissor lift would be best for an application, you’ll want to know:

  • What type of surface will the lift be operated on?
  • Is the jobsite uneven?
  • Is there a non-marking requirement if operating the lift on a finished floor?

Power Source

Once you know the surface conditions the lift needs to operate on, the next series of questions will help determine the best mode of power for your scissor lift. Each type of scissor lift category can have various forms of power sources. Some models are driven by internal combustion engines – diesel or dual fuel (interchangeable between gasoline and propane) – that can impact air quality in closed, indoor, or limited airflow spaces. Some lifts are powered by DC or Li-ion batteries and still others can simply be physically maneuvered into place. You’ll want to know the answers to these questions to better target your solution:

  • Will the lift be operated inside or outside?
  • Are there any air quality considerations?
  • Will there be access to diesel, gasoline, or propane for refueling or electrical power for recharging?

Hy-Brid Lifts feature electric drive and steer. Our machines do not give off emissions

All Hy-Brid Lifts feature electric drive and steer, meaning zero jobsite emissions.

Working Height

With the answers to those questions, you’ll want to continue narrowing your focus. All scissor lifts have a platform that workers stand on to reach overhead jobs. Most scissor lifts feature a nomenclature that includes the platform height as part of the model number. For example, the Hy-Brid Lifts PS-1030 is a 10 ft scissor lift and the Hy-Brid Lifts PS-1930 is a 19 ft slab scissor. ANSI standards say that a scissor lift’s working height is 6 ft above the platform height—CE standards say 2 m—to account for the average operator being 6 ft tall. To understand what size scissor lift to get, you’ll need to ask:

  • What height will you be working at?

Working Height is equal to platform height plus the standard height of a worker

Working height extends 6 ft, or 2 m, above the platform height due to the height of the operator.

Additional Requirements

Now that you know how high the lift platform needs to be, you’ll need to ask if there are any other jobsite restrictions or environmental requirements that may affect the ideal scissor solution. Here are a few more questions to further narrow your selection:

  • Are there any space or floor load limitations?
  • How many people will be working on the platform at a time?
  • How much weight will the lift need to elevate?
  • What are you using the lift for?
  • Will you need accessories like a pipe rack, panel lift, etc.?
  • Does this jobsite require environmental protection from potential machine failures like hydraulic leaks?

Armed with this information, you should be able to confidently finalize the perfect scissor lift recommendation for your project. Don’t hesitate to call the Hy-Brid Lifts experts at 262-297-5197 if you need help determining the correct lift for the job!