Guide to Electric Forklifts

Electric forklifts are dominating the U.S. market, reaching $74.29 billion in market size value in 2024. The demand for electric equipment in the industrial and manufacturing industry will only continue to grow, with companies favoring electric forklifts for their cost efficiency, eco-friendliness and numerous operational benefits. Advancements in technology and designs make them suitable for various workplace applications, supporting multiple shifts and some outdoor operations. 

In our guide to electric forklifts, we’ll discuss the benefits of these amazing machines and why they are the smart choice for modern businesses.

Electric Forklift Types and Models 

With the demand for electric material-handling equipment growing, we’ll continue seeing advancements in electric forklift technology — including new products, designs and models to suit your applications. Electric forklifts come in three basic types:

  • Counterbalance forklift: This forklift is designed to balance heavy loads at the front of a vehicle, suitable for interior use on smooth surfaces. These are available in three- and four-wheel designs.
  • Reach truck or side loader: This type of electric forklift can be used in confined areas and narrow entryways. Reach trucks can access loft stacks and racks due to their narrow profile and telescoping mast. 
  • Pallet trucks: This is another type of electric forklift designed to fit in compact or unique areas due to their small size. They are more mobile and can be an affordable option for companies. 

Advantages of Electric vs. Gas Forklifts

Electric forklifts offer many benefits for warehouse managers, material handling companies and other businesses wanting to increase their efficiency and save money in the process. Primary advantages of electric vs. gas forklifts include:

Enhanced Efficiency and Performance

Many businesses appreciate electric forklifts for their enhanced efficiency and performance. These machines are silent and powerful, performing the same tasks as traditional forklifts with just as much power. Lithium-ion batteries in forklifts especially stand out for their efficiency, allowing for longer operating times compared to traditional batteries.

Modern electric forklifts will continue operating on extended shifts without needing frequent recharges. This can reduce downtime, improve your productivity and help you achieve a strong return on investment. 

Enhanced Efficiency and Performance

Longer Life Span

Fewer moving parts contribute to a longer life span for electric forklift trucks. In fact, electric forklifts have 90% fewer moving parts than fuel-operated lifts. On average, you can expect an electric forklift to last longer than an internal combustion since moving parts often translates into more breakage. With a longer life span, your electric forklift can save you plenty of time and money on maintenance, replacements and repairs.

Cost Savings

Businesses can achieve significant cost savings by switching to electric lift trucks. Compared to propane-powered forklifts, for instance, electric forklifts can reduce operating expenses for businesses. This is brought on by the fact electricity is less expensive than fuel, and electric forklifts require less upkeep. Additionally, a longer life span means fewer replacement components and lower repair and maintenance costs.

Eco-Friendly

Electric forklifts are the greener choice for your business. As these vehicles are zero-emission, they reduce your company’s carbon footprint immediately and promote a cleaner and safer work environment for your employees. Electric forklifts typically do not emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere like gas versions. They are also ideal for indoor and warehouse use since they do not produce harmful fumes that would impact worker safety.

Operational Benefits

Due to their lighter weight, electric forklifts can operate more easily in narrow aisles compared to gas forklifts. A smaller turning radius and narrower builds mean fewer opportunities for accidents and an easier time stopping or turning. With quiet operation, smooth maneuverability and consistent power delivery, operators will appreciate a comfortable working environment, which can lead to enhanced efficiency.

Electric forklifts provide additional operational benefits like being quieter and producing no harmful or irritating odors like fuel-powered machines. Reduced noise and air pollution means a safer, healthier workforce and happier surrounding communities. 

Addressing Common Questions and Concerns

Here are a few questions companies often have about electric forklifts: 

1. How Do Electric Forklifts Work?

Electric forklifts consist of several key components that help control the vehicle. The basic components are the battery, which provides electric power to operate the forklift, the electric motor, which powers the wheels or tracks and a controller, hydraulic system and safety features like lights, alarms and sensors. 

2. Are Electric Forklifts Worth It?

While the upfront price of an electric forklift might be higher than fuel-operated trucks, the energy and maintenance cost savings you experience in the long term make electric forklifts worth the investment. Not to mention, electric lift trucks provide additional benefits that outweigh the upfront cost, such as eco-friendliness and quieter operation, benefitting your company in the long run.

3. What Are the Potential Limitations of Electric Forklifts?

Some instances might make the switch from traditional to electric forklifts challenging for your company, such as space limitations for battery charging stations or reduced electrical capacity within an older warehouse. 

While in the past, buyers avoided electric forklifts due to needing to charge and replace batteries, things have changed significantly in recent years. Most single and double-shift operations do not even need to change their battery, as new battery charging technology allows you to quickly recharge during breaks, reducing downtime.

4. What Is the Average Lifespan of an Electric Forklift Truck?

The leverage life span of forklifts is measured in hours of operation, but it ultimately depends on the frequency of use and maintenance. Lifting heavier loads everyday will have more significant strain on the equipment compared to lighter, less frequent use. With their straightforward construction, electric forklifts often last even longer than traditional machines.  

5. What’s Involved in Forklift Battery Maintenance? 

Forklift battery maintenance is simple and easy. All you need to do is keep your battery clean, dry and free from corrosion and note defects or malfunctions so your service provider can repair them as needed. Additionally, avoid overheating and other conditions that could lead to battery damage, shorten its life span or void the battery warranties. 

Embracing the Future With Electric Forklifts

An electric forklift can significantly benefit your company’s operations. These machines are powerful, compact and easy to operate, allowing your workers to complete tasks safely and efficiently. And with advancements in technology and environmental goals on the horizon, electric forklifts have a promising future. 

Stay ahead of the curve by choosing an electric forklift for your operations from Bohl Equipment Co. We carry a full line of quality equipment from top brands like Hyster and Yale. Appreciate improved efficiency, cost savings, lower emissions and operational benefits that propel your business to success. 

In addition to new and used forklift offerings, our experienced team of material handling specialists is dedicated to maximizing your efficiency and reducing downtime with our parts, services and rental support. For help choosing the best electric forklift for your operations, contact us today. 

Embracing the Future With Electric Forklifts
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TOLEDO, OH

534 Laskey Road
Toledo, OH 43612
Toll Free: 888.695.3105

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