Castle Access

Know The Difference: Boom Lifts vs. Scissor Lifts

Multiple industries work at height and utilise vertical storage solutions; these businesses include indoor and outdoor maintenance companies, warehouses, event management firms, factories and warehouses. Aerial lifts have become indispensable tools for efficiency and safety in the construction, warehousing and maintenance industries, and Boom Lifts and Scissor Lifts are both commonly used aerial lifts. While these types of lifts have some crossover and both serve the same primary purpose – access for hard-to-reach places – they actually have some distinct features and specific applications that differ. 

Here, we will delve into the key differences between boom and scissor lifts, understand different functions and advantages, and explore where each machine is best used. 


Boom Lifts: Reaching for the Skies

Boom lifts, sometimes called cherry pickers, are equipped with a hinged arm – or boom – which allows for both vertical and horizontal movement. These versatile machines are designed to elevate workers and equipment to various heights, providing access to areas that are difficult to reach. The hydraulic system enables smooth manoeuvrability.


Types of Boom Lifts

  • Articulating Boom Lifts 

Articulating Boom Lifts are ideal for accessing tight spaces as they are designed with multiple hinged sections; this makes them flexible in their ability to bend and reach around obstacles and access hard-to-reach areas.

  • Telescopic Boom Lifts 

These have straight, extendable booms that offer higher reach and are well-suited for tasks requiring maximum vertical height.


Advantages of Boom Lifts

  • Versatility 

Boom lifts can reach extreme heights from 12 meters to 24 meters, and they have 360-degree turret rotation, which means they can be employed in extremely tight spots and for below-ground work.

  • Articulation 

The ability to articulate or telescope the boom allows for precise positioning, even in congested or obstructed spaces. This is particularly useful in a factory or warehouse setting.

  • Outreach 

Because Boom Lifts’ also have horizontal reach, they are good for accessing areas where you need to reach over obstacles, such as roofs or other structures.


Best Uses for Boom Lifts 

Versatile and offering superior traction, Boom Lifts are widely used for maintenance work in construction, factories, and warehouses.

  • Building Maintenance

Maintenance tasks on tall buildings are made more accessible with boom lifts. These tasks include painting, window cleaning, and repair work.

  • Construction Projects 

Boom Lifts enable workers to safely access high points or those points that require navigating over or around an obstacle during construction; this makes Boom Lifts ideal for tasks like steelwork or installations at height.

  • Warehouses

Because of their enhanced manoeuvrability and precise positioning ability, Boom Lifts are great in warehouses and factories.


Scissor Lifts: Lifting with Stability

Scissor Lifts, unlike boom lifts, have a more straightforward design. They consist of a platform supported by crossed tubes that extend and retract vertically, similar to a scissor mechanism. 

Scissor Lifts provide vertical movement only, and although their mobility is limited compared to Boom Lifts, they are able to be used outdoors across all different kinds of terrain. These lifts are known for their stability and large platform size, allowing workers to perform tasks safely at height.


Advantages of Scissor Lifts

  • Stability 

Scissor lifts have a wide base and are equipped with outriggers, providing excellent stability during operation. This makes them ideal for tasks that require workers to handle heavy tools or materials at height.

  • Larger Platform 

Scissor lifts offer a spacious platform, allowing multiple workers to work simultaneously or to transport bulky equipment.

  • Smooth Vertical Movement

The vertical-only motion ensures straightforward and safe operation, making them suitable for indoor and outdoor applications.

  • Electric Options 

Many scissor lifts are available in electric variants, producing zero emissions and making them suitable for indoor use.


Best Uses for Scissor Lifts

  • Construction

These lifts are excellent on rough terrain and can be used on construction sites to reach vertical tasks safely – they also provide a safe alternative to scaffolding. 

  • Maintenance 

These machines are great for indoor and outdoor maintenance tasks such as gutter clearing, window cleaning, changing light fixtures, HVAC maintenance, and ceiling repairs.

  • Warehouse & Factory

Scissor lifts help with organising and accessing inventory stored at height in warehouses and assist with equipment and machinery access at height in factories.

  • Event Production 

In the entertainment industry, scissor lifts are used for lighting and set installations during film shoots and events.


Key Differences and Choosing the Right Lift

A Knuckle Boom is a purpose-built machine similar to a crane with flexible reach, whereas Scissor Lifts provide a straight verticle method and a larger platform to work at varying heights across all kinds of terrain. 

  • Vertical vs. Articulated Movement

The primary difference between boom and scissor lifts is their movement capabilities. Boom lifts offer both vertical and horizontal reach due to their articulated booms, while scissor lifts provide only vertical movement.

  • Outdoor vs. Indoor Use

Boom Lifts can be used in construction, factories, warehouses, and maintenance, and while Scissor Lifts can certainly be used across these sites, they are also built to handle uneven terrains like building sites or farms.

  • Working Environment

Consider the height and terrain of the working environment when choosing between the two lifts. Boom lifts are better suited for tasks at extreme heights or over obstacles, while scissor lifts are ideal across a wide variety of surfaces, including rough outdoor terrain.

  • Platform Size & Weight Capacity

Scissor lifts have larger platforms and higher weight capacities, making them suitable for projects requiring multiple workers or for handling heavy loads.


Get in Touch

Before making a decision, carefully assess the working environment, height requirements, and the number of workers involved to ensure maximum safety and efficiency. 

Choosing the right lift for the job can optimise productivity, reduce potential risks, and ensure successful project completion.

To discuss your elevation needs, contact the friendly team at Castle Access.