What are the differences between Boom Lifts vs Scissor Lifts?

Boom Lift vs Scissor Lift

The equipment selection is critical in head-high tasks both for efficiency and safety. Boom lifts and scissor lifts are popular among the various types of aerial work platforms that are employed in most industries. Although they can almost be seen as identical at first look, some have their own particular features and capabilities that make them able to be used in completely different situations.

In this article, we will explore the peculiar characteristics of boom lifts and scissor lifts so you can determine the best lift for a particular job. If you are a construction worker, window cleaner, or event manager, selecting the right equipment is what makes a difference in achieving your tasks in a correct and safe way.

What are boom lifts?

Boom lift is another name for a cherry picker or aerial lift, that machine temporarily provides access to locations that are not accessible, usually at height. Such machines are commonly employed in the construction industry, maintenance services, and by firefighters during an emergency rescue. They can be mounted on a truck, a van, or a stand-alone trailer and they are either hydraulically or pneumatically lifting the platform.

Boom lifts come in two main types: telescopic and pivoting. Telescopic boom lifts have straight arms with a bucket at the end to which workers stand in and reach heights and distances. In contrast, the latter has bendable arms that allow for more functional movement that enables workers to even navigate through obstacles. Both types give a safe space in which work can be done at height without ending up in danger.

What are scissor lifts?

A scissor lift is a platform that can rise and down vertically. This is achieved through the deployment of linked folding supports in an ‘X’ or scissor-like manner, which is commonly referred to as a “pantograph” or “scissor” mechanism. Rising motion takes place through the application of pressure to the outside of the set of supports of the lowest set, extending the pattern, and lifting the work platform vertically. Scissor lifts are devices that afford short-term access to high or difficult-to-get-to places and are often used in the construction, manufacturing, and maintenance industries.

Scissor lifts are available in different sizes and types and the various models may be more suitable for different types of environments and tasks. They can be either manual or hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical. Some scissor lifts are mounted on wheels or a vehicle for easy transportation, and others are stationary. The scissor lifts are so versatile thus making them a vital tool in many workplaces. They are designed to provide safety and efficiency which include safety rails, non-slip platforms, and others.

Safety Features Comparison: Boom Lifts vs Scissor Lifts


  • Boom Lifts: The stability of a towable boom lift is obtained due to its counterweight and outriggers. Nevertheless, they are not safe when used on raised ground, or if there is a strong wind.
  • Scissor Lifts: The scissor lifts have a lower center of gravity and on this account are more stable than boom lifts. They have also got expendable outriggers for further safety.

Fall Protection

  • Boom Lifts: There are handrails and harness attachment points on the Boom lifts. Workers have to be equipped with a full-body harness with a wristlet attached to either the booms or buckets.
  • Scissor Lifts: The scissor lifts too have guardrails but one does not have to use the harness unless the job requires an overhang over the guardrail.

Load Capacity

  • Boom Lifts: Importantly, boom lifts are characterized by lower load capacities than scissor lifts. Overloading can result in a debris slide or collapse.
  • Scissor Lifts: A scissor lift is characterized by a high capacity, but overloading can cause the vehicle to become unstable.

Wind Resistance

  • Boom Lifts: Boom lifts are prone to wind forces more extensively because of their height and design. Users should absolutely follow manufacturers’ guidelines closely, especially regarding safe wind speeds.
  • Scissor Lifts: Scissor lifts are less affected by wind, as a result of their design, but if wind is strong you still need to be careful.

Emergency Controls

  • Boom Lifts: Boom lifts have ground-level controls that allow operators on the ground to lower the lift in case of an emergency.
  • Scissor Lifts: Scissor lifts also feature ground-level emergency controls.

Which lift is more stable: boom lift or scissor lift?

Scissor lifts and boom lifts are both often seen in construction, painting, and other jobs where workers should go up high places. Among these two, the scissor lift is the one with better stability. It is because it functions up a straight vertical path which is why it becomes less likely to sway or tip over. It also has a bigger platform as it can carry more weight, and so provides more stability.

On the other hand, a boom lift, which offers more flexibility and range, has slightly reduced stability due to its design. The arm of the boom lift goes up and down, therefore, it makes it more vulnerable to wind and uneven ground. Yet, it should be added that the overall safety of both lifts could be affected by such factors as the correct usage, the quality of the maintenance, and compliance with the safety standards.

Tips for Selecting the Appropriate Lift for Work

Understand Your Work Requirements: Take into account aspects such as the maximum height you need to reach, the weight capacity needed, and the number of people who will be using the lift at a time.

Consider the Environment: For indoor activities, the electric lifts do not emit fumes at all. If you need to operate activities on rough terrain, you might require a powerful scissor lift or a boom lift with four-wheel drive.

Check the Power Source: Electric lifts are less noisy and can be used indoors or in acoustically sensitive settings. Diesel fuel or gas-powered lifts are usually more powerful and are the best choice for outdoor use.

Safety Features: Look for lifts having tilt sensors, fall protection systems, wind speed sensors, etc. In addition, the lift must have a good braking system.

Ease of Operation: Make sure you select an elevator that is easy to use. A user-friendly layout and visible instructions may save you time and can decrease the risks of accidents.

Wrapping up!

Either of the two lifts, i.e., the boom levels or the scissor lifts, is good for the different tasks, with the choice depending on various factors. You should consider your work requirements and the lift’s environment first before making a decision.

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