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Electric vs Internal Combustion Forklift: What’s the Difference


  • There are two primary categories of forklifts available: electric forklifts and internal combustion (IC) forklifts.
  • Electric forklifts are equipped with rechargeable batteries, which not only make them environmentally friendly but also well-suited for indoor operations due to their minimal emissions and noise levels. Although they tend to be more cost-effective in the long term, they do come with a higher initial purchase price.
  • IC forklifts rely on fossil fuels, providing substantial power for outdoor tasks. However, they release pollutants into the atmosphere and are generally louder, which makes electric forklifts the preferred choice for indoor applications and those concerned about environmental impact.

For the material handling industry, selecting the right kind of forklift that can support the demands of their business is significant. Forklifts are among the most commonly utilized machines in this sector, making it crucial to understand the various types available. There are two types for companies to use: electric and internal combustion (IC).

Each of these options comes with its distinct benefits and factors to ponder over, rendering the selection process a significant decision for businesses. In the following article, we will explore the fundamental differences between electrical vs. internal combustion forklifts, empowering you to make a well-informed decision tailored to your precise requirements.

Types of Forklifts

Types of Forklifts

Forklifts are specialized heavy-duty vehicles tailored for lifting and transporting loads. They are equipped with a set of fork-shaped prongs or arms at the front, which can be elevated and lowered to grasp and relocate diverse materials and merchandise. They come in two primary categories:

Electric Forklifts

Rechargeable batteries serve as the primary energy source for electric forklifts, which are widely utilized in indoor environments where reducing emissions and noise is of utmost importance. Electric forklifts are highly regarded for their impressive energy efficiency, quiet operation, and minimal maintenance requirements, making them an excellent choice for warehouses and manufacturing facilities.

Internal Combustion Forklifts

Forklifts equipped with internal combustion engines rely on gasoline, diesel, or propane for their power. These types of forklifts offer versatility and are ideally suited for outdoor applications, such as construction sites and open areas. They are well-known for their full performance and ability to handle heavy loads and challenging terrain.

Internal Combustion Forklifts

Key Differences and Considerations

For instance, you’re running a busy distribution center, and you are considering investing in a forklift but you’re torn about which of these to acquire. Let’s take a look at the key differences between these two categories and the factors to consider when making your decision between them.

Fuel Source

The key distinction between electric and internal combustion forklifts lies in their energy sources. Electric forklifts are powered by batteries, emitting no emissions, thereby promoting environmental sustainability. Meanwhile, internal combustion forklifts utilize fossil fuels, releasing exhaust fumes that can be detrimental to both the environment and indoor air quality.

Operating Costs

Electric forklifts typically boast reduced operational expenses when compared to their internal combustion counterparts. Electricity is commonly more cost-effective than gasoline or diesel fuel, and electric forklifts demand less maintenance thanks to their uncomplicated engine design. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that electric forklifts usually come with a higher initial acquisition cost.

Noise Level

Electric forklifts offer a notable noise reduction compared to their internal combustion counterparts. This quality makes them well-suited for indoor applications, where minimizing noise is crucial to enhance the comfort and safety of workers.

Emissions and Environmental Impact

Electric forklifts are an eco-friendly option as they generate no emissions during operation, promoting cleaner air quality. This makes them well-suited for indoor and environmentally sensitive locations. In contrast, internal combustion forklifts release pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.

Power and Performance

Internal combustion forklifts generally possess greater power and the capability to handle heavier loads in comparison to electric forklifts. Their robust engines and higher torque make them well-suited for outdoor applications and navigating rough terrain. Electric forklifts, conversely, are the preferred choice for lighter indoor tasks.

Key Takeaway

When it comes to choosing between electrical vs. internal combustion forklifts, your decision should depend on your unique requirements and operational needs. Electric forklifts are a fantastic choice for indoor usage due to their eco-friendly nature, reduced operational expenses, and quieter operation. On the other hand, internal combustion forklifts shine in outdoor settings and heavy-duty tasks, offering greater power and load capacity.

Ultimately, your choice should come from carefully looking at your workplace, budget, and how you’ll use the forklift. Whether you care most about being eco-friendly, saving money, or having a lot of power, knowing the differences helps you pick the best one for your business.

If you’re searching for a reliable supplier of forklifts, Multico Prime Power, Inc. (MPPI) is here to lend a hand. We’ve earned our reputation as the exclusive distributor of Clark forklift trucks in the Philippines. Our team offers you heavy machinery that meets industry standards. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to secure your unit today!

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