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Forklift Fuel Options and Buying Considerations

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There are two common types of forklifts available today – internal combustion engine forklifts popularly known as IC forklifts and electric forklifts. We’ll go over the pros and cons of these fuel options to help you make an informed decision.

What’s an electric forklift?

In recent years, electric forklifts have become widely recognized in the market. Today, they account for more than 60% of forklift sales in the region. This is perhaps due to the advanced technology that enables manufacturing of electric forklifts that are just as reliable in terms of performance and runtime as the combustion engine forklifts. These forklifts have newer and improved batteries, better motor technologies and improved voltage outputs.

With an electric forklift, you get to enjoy the following advantages:

  • The forklift is powered by electrical energy meaning that unlike other sources of energy like batteries or fuel cells, there’s no exhaust emission which could be potentially harmful to the surroundings.
  • Electrical forklifts are also easier to maintain. They do not have components such as transmission fluids and engines that need to be replaced.
  • These forklifts generate minimal noise and vibration. This helps to minimize operator fatigue.
  • With fewer parts to repair and maintain, electric forklifts are cheaper to maintain in the long term.
  • You don’t have to spend much on fuel costs given that the batteries can be recharged. You may have to pay a hefty amount upfront to acquire the battery and charger but it’s cheaper than paying for fuel consistently.

What’s an IC forklift?

Internal combustion forklifts remain viable solutions in most indoor and outdoor commercial applications. However, they are mostly preferred for outdoor use or during special applications like container handling.

IC forklifts have the following advantages:

  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors and still maintain top notch performance. These forklifts are designed for use in harsh environments like when it’s raining.
  • IC forklifts can be powered by different fuels such as propane, diesel, gasoline, and CNG. Most of these fuels are available locally so there’s a low initial cost of operating the forklift. However, if you don’t have access to gasoline, diesel or CNG close to your facility, you may need to create your own infrastructure which can be quite costly.
  • When the forklift runs out of fuel, you can simply refuel and continue with the operation. This is unlike most electrical forklifts which need to recharge for a long period before you can begin using them. With an IC forklift, the propane gas on a forklift can be quickly replaced and you continue with the operation.

Remember that IC forklifts must be operated in warehouses that have proper ventilation. This is because the forklifts release emissions, can be noisy, with loud vibrations and hence need to be in the right location to ensure safety and comfort of the operator.

When choosing the right type of forklift for your application, consider the cost of maintenance in the long term as well as the repair and fuel costs.

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