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Diesel Forklift & Electric Forklift Comparisons

Posted by: admin on May 15, 2022

 Electric vs Diesel Forklifts

Forklifts are a vital part of any large warehouse or other workplace that carries, stocks, and transports heavy materials. Without them, moving goods where they need to go would be much slower and less efficient.

There are many types of forklifts with different features and functions. One of the most important features is the type of engine that powers the truck. The engine makes a big difference in how a truck performs. 

The engine type impacts the following characteristics for diesel forklifts and electric lifts:

  • Operational techniques
  • Ease of use
  • Operating expenses – fuel, battery charging, maintenance, etc.
  • Environmental impact
  • Type of work the forklift is capable of
  • And much more

Two of the most popular engine types are electric and diesel. When talking about diesel forklifts vs electric forklifts, which one is better for your company? The short answer is “neither” or “both,” depending on how you want to look at it. The long answer is that it depends on many factors, including operating costs, type of worksite, duration of work, company budget, and others.  

Of these, the main factor is what you need the truck to do. Diesel forklifts can do some things that electrics can’t. Electric forklifts can do some things diesels can’t. That’s why many companies use both types. put together this handy comparison to help you determine the right choice in the electric vs diesel forklift debate.

Regardless of where you stand on the diesel forklift vs electric forklift contrast, or even if your company utilizes both types of forklifts, offers a complete assortment of OSHA compliant training and certification courses to ensure all of your operators are up to speed on the latest OSHA regulations. 

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Electric vs. Diesel Forklifts

Diesel and electric forklifts do the same basic job. They both lift, load, unload and move products and materials from one place to another. They can both move large amounts of goods in a short time. This is due to their ability to safely lift and transport heavy weight loads. What separates the two is their usage.

Diesel forklifts are larger, more powerful, and are mostly used outdoors. As the name implies, they are propelled by a diesel engine. As a result, they emit harmful greenhouse fumes. Electric forklifts are more compact and have a smaller swiveling radius. This makes them better suited for warehouses and other indoor work sites. Powered by a large battery, they do not emit any exhaust fumes. This makes them friendlier to the environment and to their operators.

But there are other factors involved when comparing diesel forklifts vs electric forklifts. Let’s take a look at some of the key differences, which will help you decide if you should go with a diesel forklift or electric lift.

Diesel forklifts

Diesel forklifts are the better outdoor truck for many reasons. Their engine provides more power than electric forklifts. They are designed and built to handle rough terrain.  They can withstand weather conditions better than electric models. They make more noise than electric trucks, but this is not a problem outdoors.

One real advantage of diesel trucks is they can work longer without running out of fuel. When they do run out, it only takes a few minutes to fill the fuel tank. Changing electric batteries is a longer and more complex process. It can take much longer if the replacement battery needs to be recharged before it can be put on the truck.

Diesel forklifts don’t require extra space for battery charging stations. They can also be parked anywhere instead of next to the charging station. Diesels easily outperform electrics when it comes to power usage. For example, driving on gradients will deplete an electric engine sooner than a diesel. Adding hydraulic or other attachments to the truck will also deplete an electric engine more quickly. The more components that need power from electric forklifts, the faster the battery and overall power of the forklift is depleted.

Can diesel forklifts be utilized indoors? Well, one of the drawbacks of the diesel forklifts is their extremely restricted applications in any indoor environment.  Due to noise and toxic fume emissions, diesel forklifts require specialized training and certification for use at any indoor jobsite. And even if a diesel forklift is used inside, venting systems must ensure a constant flow of quality air, which many older buildings lack. Due to carbon dioxide buildup, it is hazardous to operate diesel forklifts indoors. Not impossible, but there are many hurdles to this type of forklift use. 

A few cons of diesel forklift include:

  • Higher maintenance costs – more moving parts than electric lifts
  • Limited maneuverability compared to electric lifts
  • Restricted indoor use
  • More expensive to operate in the long run provides forklift training that reviews everything you need to know about using diesel forklifts indoors. Our training provides a complete assessment of OSHA’s Enclosed and Hazardous Areas learning tool.

Electric forklifts

Electric forklifts have been around for a while. But they didn’t start gaining in popularity until fairly recently. The rise in fuel costs and greater environmental awareness helped electric lifts gain in popularity. Today, roughly half of all new forklifts produced are electric!

With electric forklifts, workers are not forced to breathe in toxic fumes. The lower noise level makes for a safer job site. Diesel trucks can be so loud that workers often can’t hear each other when coming around corners or working in blind spots. This increases the risk of accidents that can damage goods and injure workers.

Smaller in size than diesels, electric forklifts are easier to maneuver in tight spaces such as the aisles and corners of a warehouse. They’re easier to control because the operator doesn’t have to use a clutch. Refueling electric forklifts only requires recharging or replacing the battery. There are no fuel tanks to fill. Electric trucks also have fewer moving parts that can break or get damaged. This reduces downtime and maintenance costs.

Some disadvantage of using electric lifts include:

  • Rarely used outdoors
  • Limited battery power
  • Higher initial costs for battery
  • Wait time for full charge

Do I Need Electric Forklift and Diesel Forklift Training?

In the electric vs diesel forklift debate, there’s one point that can’t be argued – the need for training for both types. The question is, what kind of program should you look for? Do you need a separate training for each, or one that combines both? At, we have the answers.

Our diesel forklift and electric forklift certification course lineup includes:

  • Warehouse Forklift Training, Classes, 1, 4, 5
    • Class 1: Electric Motor Rider Trucks
    • Class 4: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks, Cushion Tires
    • Class 5: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks, Pneumatic Tires
  • Pallet Jacks and Order Pickers, Classes 2, 3
    • Class 2: Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks
    • Class 3: Electric Motor Hand or Hand/Rider Trucks
  • Rough Terrain Forklifts, Class 7
    • Class 7: Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors

Other features include:

  • Spanish and English options
  • All handouts, checklists, and guidelines
  • Free three-year renewals for life!

Whether you use diesel or electric forklifts, you need a training program that covers how to operate them safely and prevent accidents. We offer a course that teaches how to operate electric, diesel and gasoline trucks.  It covers Class 1, 4, and 5 warehouse forklifts, and Class 7 rough terrain forklifts.

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Electric & Diesel Forklift Certification – Sign Up Today! is an online forklift training school that teaches workers everything they need to know to operate a forklift. With affordable prices, convenient online access, a 100% pass rate and exceptional customer service, our training solutions are the affordable, efficient solution to all of your OSHA certification requirements!

Wherever you stand with the diesel forklift vs electric forklift one thing is certain – you’re still required by law to provide OSHA compliant training and certification for all drivers. And no other training provider gives you the affordability and flexibility to meet and exceed OSHA compliance & regulations.

If you need a refresher course on using a diesel forklift indoors, or would like to give your resume a boost, contact today. Click here to view our forklift training courses and pricing. To speak directly with our OSHA safety experts, give us a call at 1-888-699-4800.

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