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Forklifts VS Hand Pallet Trucks: Similarities and Differences

What do you need to know about forklifts vs hand pallet trucks?

  1. Labor
  2. Load capacity
  3. Space needed to operate
  4. Indoor or outdoor use
  5. Ease of Use
  6. Maintenance


When it comes to material handling operations, two pieces of equipment are preferred by businesses — it’s either a forklift, a hand pallet truck, or both. Both make moving and lifting much easier for your workforce, so your business can benefit from reduced labor and increased productivity. But even though both are considered great material handling equipment options, each one offers its own perks. If you want to know more about forklifts vs hand pallet trucks, scroll down for more information.



Both forklift and hand pallet trucks can help your workforce do their tasks with less fatigue. Both pieces of equipment are made with a forked platform that can be raised and lowered to lift cargo and move it inside a facility with ease. This can significantly make it easier for your team to move and transport goods that are too heavy to be carried by hand.

Both forklifts and hand pallet trucks are designed to help increase productivity while reducing strain, fatigue, and injury on workers.


Load Capacity

Load Capacity

Hand pallet trucks are suitable for carrying lightweight and pallet-sized loads. The maximum weight limit will vary according to the model, but standard units can lift between 1.5 to 5 tons. This makes the equipment suitable for facilities that have loads under the maximum capacity.

Since the maximum lift height is often under 10 inches, a hand pallet truck is recommended for warehouses with ground storage. It’s usually utilized in retail, cold storage, and general warehousing.

On the other hand, forklifts have increased load capacities beyond 5,000 lbs, so they’re suitable for moving heavier and larger cargo and transporting them to farther destinations. Because of the increased lifting height, they’re also capable of carrying products to higher locations. A forklift is often used in factories, storage warehouses, and other large facilities that require heavy lifting.


Space Needed to Operate

Hand pallet trucks are compact and smaller in size. This means that they’re a good option if you have limited space in your facility. Because of their size, you can use and store them in tight spaces. If you have a larger facility, consider using an electric pallet truck which can help you cover wider distances with ease.

Forklifts are much bigger than hand pallet trucks thanks to the power they offer and their capacity to lift heavier loads. Because of the size difference, forklifts require more space in your facility. But although they’re bigger, they are fast and easy to maneuver. They can navigate around tight corners and through narrow aisles with ease.


Indoor or Outdoor Use

Indoor or Outdoor Use

If you need to lift small loads in an indoor setting, a hand pallet truck is the recommended choice. They work well on smooth concrete floors where you only need to move cargo on the ground. Using a pallet truck in rough terrains and inclines is not advisable because it can be more difficult to maintain control of the equipment.

For handling equipment in rougher terrain, you need something that offers more power such as a forklift. They’re designed with tougher and bigger tires that can go through rough terrain outdoors. For indoor use, you can opt for electric forklifts which produce only a few to zero emissions.


Ease of Use

Manual hand pallet trucks are simple and easy to operate, which makes them a great option for daily tasks. To use this equipment, you only need to use the lever to lower the prongs and slide them into the pallet. Once this is done, you can jack up the pallet. After that, you can pull the equipment to your desired location.

Electric pallet trucks operate in a similar fashion, but the method of jacking up the prongs is achieved electronically. Some models also have a “ride on” feature to make transportation of goods around a facility more convenient.

On the other hand, forklifts require more intensive training because of their power and size. Operators must know how to safely operate the forklift indoors and outdoors.




One of the advantages of a manual hand pallet truck is that its low maintenance. It doesn’t need to be fueled or recharged, so you can save on upkeep in the long run. To prolong the life of your equipment, check and replace the oil regularly. Lubricate the moving parts and clean the wheels often. Make sure to inspect all parts for damage too.

Compared to a manual hand pallet truck, a forklift requires more care and maintenance. It needs to be refueled or charged often, and you have more parts to regularly service. Fortunately, some suppliers offer preventive maintenance services to make this easier.


Key Takeaway

Both a forklift and a hand pallet truck can significantly improve productivity in your workplace while reducing worker fatigue when carrying loads by hand. But each one offers its own set of benefits and knowing them will help you choose the right equipment for your facility.

If you’re still having trouble choosing between forklifts vs hand pallet trucks, you can contact us here at Multico! We offer both pieces of material handling equipment, so we can help you in choosing the right one for your business.

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