Boom lifts take workers up where the work is. Learn how to choose the right lift for the job, what accessories might help, and how to use these lifts safely.
Boom lifts carry workers and materials both up and out, delivering them to hard-to-access spots for work at height. Two of the most popular types of boom lifts are articulating boom lifts and telescopic boom lifts. Both have hydraulic arms with significant reach. The choice boils down to two main considerations: how high you need the work platform to go and whether you need to navigate around obstacles.
A telescopic boom lift also called a stick boom or straight boom has a boom that “telescopes” straight out from the boom hoist, which is attached to the lift chassis. Some models can reach as high as 185 feet, although the more common maximum range is in the neighborhood of 150 feet.
These aerial lifts, or mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs), are used when crews need to work at a significant height or access an area blocked by rough terrain. They are suitable for a large variety of jobs including industrial maintenance, electrical work, painting, glazing, bridgework or inspection, tree trimming, and any task that requires access to a multi-story building.
The telescoping boom extends quickly, and the lift can be driven with the boom fully extended in some positions.
Diesel Telescopic Boom Lift
An articulating boom lift, also known as a knuckle boom, has a lift arm with multiple sections separated by joints, or “knuckles.” The arm can move the work platform over and around obstacles. This type of boom lift is used whenever a worker needs to access an area that’s particularly tight or difficult to reach or needs to change position frequently.
The tallest articulating boom lift made today has a lift height of 150 feet and a 75-foot reach. This boom gives you less horizontal reach than a telescoping boom, but it provides vertical and horizontal flexibility.
Like the telescopic boom lift, the articulating boom lift can travel over uneven terrain.
Electric Articulating Boom Lift
Ask yourself these questions to identify the best type of boom lift for your job. You’ll need to decide not only between a telescopic vs. articulating boom lift but also between different sizes and power sources.
How high do you need to go? Height is typically the first consideration. A hydraulic telescopic boom lift can reach the highest.
How much horizontal reach do you need? This is how far you need to extend the work platform from the base. Telescopic boom lifts have a greater horizontal reach, which is listed as such in the specs. Articulating booms list their “up and over” height, which indicates how high the platform will reach when the boom is articulated.
Do you need to tow the lift? Most boom lifts are self-propelled, but trailer-mounted towable boom lifts are a good choice if you need portability. They can be connected to a work truck with a towing hitch. Lightweight, with simple controls, they’re useful for a variety of applications. They also are compact for storage. Outriggers offer support in place of the counterweights of self-propelled models.
Where will you store it? The stowed height is a consideration if you plan to store the lift.
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