Scissor lifts are aerial platforms that move vertically with the aid of folding supports that form a criss-cross “X” pattern when extended. They are used most commonly for maintenance work, construction and emergency services.
While most scissor lifts are built with the same basic structure, they vary when it comes to power, mobility, reach, safety features and more. Knowing how these differences affect operation is key to finding the right scissor lift to fit your needs.
Top 10 Best Rated Scissor Lifts
Genie has been manufacturing aerial lifting machinery since 1966 and became a Terex Corp. brand in 2002. Genie’s selection of slab and all-terrain scissor lifts offer a variety of solutions for different lifting jobs.
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JLG is an American designer and manufacturer of access equipment that was founded in 1969 and now distributes products across the globe. JLG offers electric and diesel engine scissor lifts available in slab and all-terrain models.
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Skyjack was founded in Canada in 1985 to provide material handling and access equipment to a global market. Skyjack’s various elevated platform equipment products include feature-rich electric and all-terrain scissor lifts.
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Headquartered in Kerman, California, MEC Aerial Work Platforms has been in the material handling and access machinery business for over 40 years. MEC sells electric and engine-powered slab and rough terrain scissor lifts.
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Custom Equipment, Inc. began manufacturing Hy-Brid Lifts in 2004. These scissor lifts are lightweight and maneuverable. The Hy-Brid lift is designed with front-wheel drive and no-mark tires for indoor use across delicate flooring.
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Snorkel has been in the material handling and aerial platform business for over 60 years, keeping innovation and customer service at the forefront of its priorities. Snorkel sells slab, rough terrain and mini scissor lifts.
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Sinoboom is a Chinese manufacturer and designer of aerial work platform equipment that includes various scissor lifts. Sinoboom has a global reach with facilities in Europe, Australia, Asia and the Middle East.
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The Dingli Machinery company was founded in 2002 and operates in the Zhejiang province of China. Dingli manufactures and distributes several aerial platforms, including electric and engine drive scissor lifts, across the world.
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Founded in 1944, Weise has over 70 years of experience in the material handling industry. Weise sells and rents boom lifts, bucket trucks, scissor lifts and more to companies across the Midwest and Mid-South United States.
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Servicing the construction and maintenance teams of California since 1995, American Scissor Lift rents and sells different brands of scissor lifts. American Scissor Lift has a fleet of over 1,100 machines ready for rental.
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What should I consider when buying or renting a scissor lift?
What are the standard capabilities of a scissor lift?
The most common options you need to consider when shopping for a scissor lift are weight limit, height and deck size. Make sure the lift you buy or rent is up to your job by checking its limitations.
- Weight limit: Every scissor lift will have a clearly-listed weight limit. Smaller lifts can hold about 500 pounds, mid-size lifts can hold 500-1,000 pounds and large lifts can support about 1,000-2,000 pounds. Weight limits vary, and you should always stay within these limits for safety reasons.
- Height: Different scissor lift models extend to different heights. In general, slab or indoor lifts cannot reach the same heights as those built for outdoor use on construction sites. Make sure you choose a scissor lift capable of reaching the heights your job requires.
- Deck size: If you need more than one person on the lift at the same time, you will want a scissor lift with a larger deck. Some decks can be outfitted with deck extenders to give you extra workspace.
What safety features do scissor lifts need?
Operating a scissor lift is dangerous if you don’t take the proper safety precautions. Most scissor lifts have built-in safety features to minimize risk of operator injury or property damage.
- Fail-safe options: Many lifts, especially hydraulic and pneumatic lifts, are equipped with fail-safe options to return the lift to its compact state. These fail-safe measures release the pressure holding the lifts up, allowing for an easy and safe descent.
- Gradeability: Gradeability refers to the degree of slope a scissor lift can climb safely. If you are looking for a scissor lift to be used on a construction site, you will want one with higher gradeability. Most rough terrain scissor lifts have a gradeability of 35-50 percent.
- Brakes and supports: Scissor lifts are equipped with brakes to slow down and lock when in use. Some rough terrain scissor lifts have outrigger supports that add extra support for jobs on unsteady ground.
- Tilt alarm: Many lifts are outfitted with tilt alarms that sound when the lift starts to become unsteady. This alarm allows the operator to correct the lift before it tips.
What are the mobility options for scissor lifts?
Most scissor lifts are designed to be highly mobile, but some models have an easier time moving than others. Make sure you have a scissor lift capable of any movement your job requires.
- Self-propelled: Most scissor lifts are self-propelled. This means you can drive them wherever they need to go as long as they are capable of moving on the terrain.
- Manual push lifts: Smaller scissor lifts may require you to push them where they will be used. These lifts are lightweight and easy to maneuver, and they are best suited for light work on even ground or indoors.
- Trailer lifts: Some scissor lifts can be mounted to a truck via a trailer hitch. The truck pulls these lifts where they need to go.
What are the motor options for scissor lifts?
Self-propelled scissor lifts have either an electric or a diesel engine. Some models have hybrid engines that use both electricity and diesel power, but they are not as common as the other two options.
- Electric power: Most smaller and midsize slab scissor lifts are powered by electricity. This eliminates fuel emissions, making them ideal for indoor use. Some rough terrain scissor lifts have electric motors, though they are not likely to be as versatile as their diesel-powered counterparts.
- Engine power: Midsize and large rough terrain scissor lifts usually have diesel motors. Diesel powered lifts have a high emission rate, which makes them better suited for outdoor use.
- Hybrid power: Hybrid engines use an electric motor as a primary power source but have generators as well to provide the battery with an auxiliary charge in case the electric motor’s power is depleted.
What type of system powers the lift?
The platform on a scissor lift is lifted by folding supports that form a criss-cross pattern and extend vertically. Most scissor lifts generate this power with the aid of hydraulic fluid, but some models use pneumatic pressure or a mechanical crank to raise and lower the platform.
- Hydraulic system: The most common type of lift is a hydraulic lift. This system uses hydraulic fluid to maintain pressure on the lift and keep it in place when lifted. You lower the lift by releasing this pressure.
- Hydraulic system: A pneumatic system uses pressurized air to keep the lift in place. These systems generally cannot handle as much weight as hydraulic systems, making them more common on smaller lifts.
- Mechanical system: The least common type of lift system is a mechanical system. Mechanical lifts raise and lower the platform by a powered leadscrew or rack and pinion system. Mechanical systems are more common on older scissor lifts.
How do I pay for a scissor lift?
Once you have decided on the type of lift you want, you will need to consider your payment options. Lifts are expensive, but many companies offer financing options, rentals and used lift sales.
- Financing: Most scissor lift companies have financing options, either through an in-house financing department or a partnership with an independent lender, for buying new lifts.
- Used and reconditioned lifts: A number of sellers offer used or reconditioned lifts for sale at lower prices than new ones. Used and reconditioned lifts can usually be financed much like new ones.
- Rental: If you only need the lift for one project, consider renting a scissor lift instead of purchasing one. Various companies offer rentals, so check with them to see their rates and offerings.
What types of scissor lifts are there?
Slab scissor lifts
Slab scissor lifts are lifts with a low clearance that are built for use on even terrain or a slab of concrete. They are ideal for maneuvering in tight spaces and are thus best for indoor use.
Rough terrain scissor lifts
Rough terrain scissor lifts have a higher clearance and tires built for greater traction over uneven terrain. These scissor lifts are commonly used at construction sites or outdoor projects.
Aviation scissor lifts
Scissor lifts are regular features at airports because they allow staff and mechanics to more easily access cargo holds or places on the plane in need of repair. Aviation scissor lifts are often outfitted with bumpers on the bars so they don’t damage the planes.
Scissor lift table
Scissor lift tables are small scissor lifts that are either stationary or attached to hand carts. Stationary tables are mostly used in personal workshops, and mobile tables are used by smaller retailers that need to move materials over short distances.
Who uses scissor lifts?
Scissor lifts are regular features on construction sites. They allow workers to transport materials and personnel to higher levels of their building projects.
Scissor lifts allow maintenance workers to reach tall sections of buildings and infrastructures in need of repair.
Warehouse and retail workers
Many warehouses use tall shelves to store materials and goods. Scissor lifts can help workers reach inventory to be stored or sold.
Firefighters and other rescue workers can use scissor lifts to reach people in perilous situations and lower them to safety.
Aviation technicians and staff
The aviation industry makes use of scissor lifts to help load cargo into airplanes or to help maintenance workers access parts of the airplane in need of repair.
Entertainment industry workers
The entertainment industry benefits from scissor lifts by using them to set up staging areas for shows and sets.
Scissor lift company reviews
Founded in 1966, Genie Industries began by using compressed air to operate mechanical lifts. Genie has expanded operations by manufacturing aerial lifts in locations across the world. In 2002, Genie became part of the Terex Corporation and continues to sell its aerial lifts under the Genie brand.
- GS slab scissor lifts: Genie’s GS slab scissor lifts are designed for maneuvering in tight spaces. They are capable of both indoor and outdoor use, though they are best suited for relatively even terrain. Genie’s line of slab lifts includes models that can hoist loads of up to 1,500 pounds to heights up to 46 feet.
- GS RT series: Genie’s GS RT series are rough terrain scissor lifts, four-wheel drive platforms with improved traction and control. These lifts have larger platforms, and some models are capable of lifting up to 2,500 pounds and reaching heights up to 49 feet.
- Aviation scissor lift: The GS-2646 AV scissor lift is built with the aviation industry in mind. It is equipped with padded rails to protect the aircraft, and it can be outfitted with an extension platform for extra space.
- BE series: Genie’s BE series are bi-energy, high-performance rough terrain electric scissor lifts with an onboard generator to keep the batteries charged. These scissor lifts are a versatile machine for both indoor and outdoor use.
- Aerial Pros resources: Genie’s Aerial Pros webpage connects you with information and articles from industry experts. From basic information to up-to-date knowledge about the industry trends, Aerial Pros provides a variety of resources.
- Best for warehouses, indoor maintenance projects, construction sites and the aviation industry.
Founded in 1969, JLG Industries, Inc. is an American designer and manufacturer of aerial platforms and other access equipment. Part of the Oshkosh Corporation, JLG is a worldwide company that distributes and manufactures its products across the globe. JLG sells both electric and engine powered scissor lifts.
- 1932R: The JLG 1932R electric scissor lift is a slab scissor lift capable of reaching a height of 19 feet. Its increased ground clearance makes it more versatile for outdoor use, but its small size (2 feet, 8 inches wide) makes it a good fit for use in tight spaces like warehouses.
- ES Series: JLG’s ES Series is a line of electric scissor lifts built with battery-saving technology that gives a longer runtime and reduced charging time. The ES series models can lift up to 1,000 pounds.
- LE Series: JLG’s LE series are heavy-duty and environmentally friendly scissor lifts. They are one of JLG’s most versatile lines of lifts. They are capable of both indoor and outdoor use.
- RT series: The models in the RT series are engine scissor lifts built to handle rugged terrain. The exclusive MegaDeck platform available on RT models allows more workers and materials to fit on the lift.
- 260MRT: The JLG 260MRT is an engine scissor lift that is outfitted with a roll-out deck extension for added reach. Its narrow 69-inch chassis allows it to access places many other all-terrain scissor lifts cannot.
- Best for warehouses, construction sites and indoor and outdoor maintenance work.
Skyjack is a Canadian company that provides access and material handling equipment. The company was founded in 1985 and expanded its product offerings and clientele to become a global distributor. Skyjack’s inventory includes cherry pickers, telehandlers and scissor lifts.
- SJIII series: The models in the SJIII series of electric scissor lifts are capable of reaching heights from 19 to 40 feet. Models in this line can lift up to 500 pounds, and many are equipped with roll-out decks for added workspace.
- SJ RT series: Skyjack’s rough terrain scissor lifts feature four-wheel drive, 5-foot roll-out decks for extra workspace and a 45 percent gradeability. They are built for stability in outdoor environments. They are powered by dual fuel (gas/propane) or diesel engines.
- SJ6832 RTE: The SJ6832 RTE is a rough terrain scissor lift with all the features of other models in the RT series except that it is outfitted with an electric motor. It is Skyjack’s only rough-terrain electric scissor lift.
- Parts and service: Skyjack allows anyone with an online account to look up and order replacement parts for their scissor lifts. If you have questions about your lift, you can contact Skyjack via email or telephone.
- Reconditioning process: Skyjack sells used equipment at discounted prices as long as that equipment passes a reconditioning test. Each machine is disassembled for a careful inspection of engines, hoses, controls and every other part of the lift to note any wear and tear. Parts are replaced as necessary, and it is reassembled for sale.
- Best for construction and indoor and outdoor maintenance work.
MEC Aerial Work Platforms was established over 40 years ago in Mayville, Wisconsin. The company started designing and manufacturing scissor lifts and has since expanded to include boom lifts. Now, the company has its headquarters in Kerman, California.
- SE slab scissor lifts: MEC’s SE slab scissor lifts are designed for indoor and outdoor use on even terrain. Like most slab scissor lifts, they have electric motors.
- 59 series crossover: MEC’s 59 series are midsize rough terrain scissor lifts. These are electric lifts designed to operate in outdoor construction sites with uneven terrain. Lifts in the 59 series feature four-wheel drive and long-lasting batteries.
- 4069 series: MEC’s 4069 midsize lifts are slightly larger and more powerful than those in the 59 series. They feature more powerful batteries, carry more weight and reach greater heights.
- 84 Series Speed Level Sigma lifts: The 84 Series features large scissor lifts that raise and lower on only one hydraulic scissor arm. They are built to raise and lower quickly, and they are available in both electric and diesel engine models.
- 92 series: The 6092RT is a large all-terrain scissor lift. It can be equipped with two slide-out extension decks and has outrigger support for increased stability. It is MEC’s largest scissor lift and is built for use in uneven, rugged environments.
- Best for construction, warehouse stocking and indoor and outdoor maintenance projects.
Hy-Brid Lifts are designed and manufactured by Custom Equipment, Inc. Custom Equipment was founded in 1981 as a welding repair and fabrication business in West Bend, Wisconsin. Custom Equipment, Inc. started manufacturing the Hy-Brid Lift in 2004 to provide a smaller, lighter scissor lift to industrial markets.
- Lightweight design: Hy-Brid scissor lifts are designed to be lighter and smaller than most scissor lifts. The Hy-Brid lifts’ light weight allows it to traverse more delicate surfaces that would buckle under most other scissor lifts.
- Front-wheel steering: Hy-Brid scissor lifts feature unique front-wheel steering systems that gives them increased maneuverability over carpet, tile and other flooring that is incompatible with most other scissor lifts. This steering system combined with mark-free tires increases maneuverability and safe travel over indoor surfaces without damaging or marking them.
- Easy entry: Another benefit of a Hy-Brid lift’s compact design is its low threshold. The low step-in height and wide-swinging entrance gate allows you to enter and exit safely.
- Extendable deck: Many Hy-Brid scissor lifts are outfitted with extendable decks. These extensions provide more workspace and increase platform reach.
- Service and support: Custom Equipment, Inc. supports Hy-Brid Lifts through warranties, parts and repair services. Custom Equipment also provides on-site training for distribution partners.
- Best for indoor maintenance, warehouses and anywhere that requires work in tight spaces.
A global manufacturer of aerial work platforms, Snorkel is headquartered in Henderson, Nevada. Snorkel has been in the material handling industry for over 60 years. Snorkel takes pride in customer service, easy maintenance and product innovation.
- Electric scissor lift options: Snorkel’s line of electric slab scissor lifts feature several different models, each with their own accessories. The smallest is the S3010 E which features non-marking tires, a zero inside turning radius and a lift capacity of 500 pounds. The largest is the S4732E which has a roll-out extension deck and a lift capacity of 1,000 pounds.
- Push-around mini scissor lifts: Snorkel’s mini scissor lifts are light enough to push around manually. The lift itself operates automatically. These lifts are best suited for small, indoor jobs.
- RT series: Snorkel’s RT series are engine-powered rough terrain scissor lifts that feature roll-out extension decks and high clearance wheels. They have platform capacities up to 1,250 pounds and are best suited for outdoor use.
- BE series: Snorkel’s BE series are rough terrain scissor lifts that run on hybrid engines, using both electric and diesel power. They are one of Snorkel’s most versatile lifts, capable of indoor and outdoor use, but due to their size and wheel type, they should not be used over delicate indoor surfaces.
- Service and support: Snorkel’s customer support is there to help you at any point in the purchasing or servicing process. Spare parts, training access, manuals, bulletins and warranty information are all available online, and representatives are ready to help.
- Best for construction sites, warehouses and indoor and outdoor maintenance projects.
Founded in 2008, Sinoboom is a manufacturer of aerial work platforms based in the Hunan province of China. Sinoboom builds and designs articulated boom lifts, spider lifts, telescopic boom lifts and scissor lifts. The company distributes its products across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Australia.
- Small lifts: Sinoboom’s small slab electric scissor lifts are built for use in tight spaces across even surfaces, making them ideal for indoor or warehouse use. These models include the GTJZ0408M, the GTJZ0408S and the GTJZ0608S.
- Midsize lifts: Sinoboom’s various midsize lifts are built to handle flat indoor or outdoor terrain. They are powered by electric motors. Lift capacities range from 500 to 950 pounds with some models capable of reaching heights of 45 feet.
- Rough terrain lifts: Sinoboom’s rough terrain lifts are built for outdoor use in uneven terrain. They are powered by diesel engines and can lift up to 1,500 pounds. You can add outriggers to anchor them to the ground for steadier operation.
- Customer support: Sinoboom delivers customers’ machines to their work sites and instructs workers in proper operation techniques. Sinoboom also pairs each customer with a representative who handles support and service requests.
- Product guarantees: Sinoboom guarantees their products against damage outside of human error and poor maintenance. The guarantee does not cover parts subject to regular wear and tear, such as engine filters, fuses, relays and cylinder seals.
- Best for construction, warehouses and indoor and outdoor maintenance work.
Zhejiang Dingli Machinery Co., Ltd. is a Chinese manufacturer of boom lifts, vertical lifts, mast platforms and scissor lifts. The company was established in 2002, and its products are sold all over the world.
- JCPT0607A: Dingli’s JCPT6070A is its smallest scissor lift. With a zero turn radius and an extended height of 19 feet, this small scissor lift is ideal for working in tight spaces.
- Midsize scissor lifts: Dingli’s extensive line of midsize slab scissor lifts are battery-operated and built for indoor and outdoor use. Some models are equipped with roll-out decks and most have pothole protection due to a higher clearance than most slab lifts.
- JCPT1823RT: The JCPT1823RT is Dingli’s most powerful scissor lift. It features a slide-out engine tray for easy maintenance and self-leveling hydraulic outriggers for increased stability. It has a gradeability of 50 percent.
- On-site training: Dingli offers on-site professional training for their hydraulic lifts. This training includes basic operation and machine maintenance.
- Part and machine warranties: Dingli offers a one-year warranty on its parts and a three-year warranty on the machinery. Exceptions include damaged caused by human error, improper operation and normal wear and tear.
- Best for indoor and outdoor maintenance, warehouses and construction sites.
Wiese is a United States company that sells and rents material handling machinery. Founded in 1944, Wiese is currently headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri and serves a variety of companies across the Midwest and Mid-South, including locations in Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Illinois.
- Electric scissor lifts: Wiese deals Genie self-propelled electric scissor lifts. The company can fulfill a request for any model among Genie’s product line.
- Rough terrain scissor lifts: Like the company’s electric scissor lift options, Wiese deals in Genie rough terrain scissor lifts. These engine-powered lifts are built for outdoor use.
- Extensive product lines: Because Wiese is a distributor, it offers numerous makes and models from different manufacturers. If you are unsure of what type of lift you need, Wiese’s selection of boom lifts, aerial platforms and scissor lifts will give you a variety to consider before making your selection.
- Pre-owned and rental options: If you do not want to purchase or finance a scissor lift, Wiese offers rentals for its equipment. Pre-owned equipment is also available for purchase at discounted prices, though stock is subject to availability.
- Warehouse design options: Scissor lifts are common features in warehouses, and Wiese offers warehouse design consultations and products. If you are building a warehouse, Wiese can help you make efficient use of your space with mezzanines, balers, scissor lift tables and more.
- Best for warehouses, temporary indoor or outdoor projects and construction work in the Midwest and Mid-South United States.
American Scissor Lift got its start in 1994 and opened its doors a year later in Sacramento, California. The company began renting scissor lifts to clients and eventually spread its business across California. Now, American Scissor Lifts offers a range of lifting equipment that includes boom lifts and telehandlers in addition to its extensive stock of scissor lifts.
- Engine scissor lifts: American Scissor Lift offers Genie brand rough terrain scissor lifts for rent. These four-wheel drive lifts have a high clearance for outdoor use.
- Electric scissor lifts: American Scissor Lift rents and sells electric slab scissor lifts from Genie, MEC, Snorkel and Hy-Brid lifts. This extensive selection gives you the opportunity to try out different brands and find the right fit for you.
- Customer service: American Scissor Lift was founded on principles of exceptional customer service. Employees grant a personal touch to sales and rentals to make sure you find the right scissor lift to fit your needs.
- After-sale services: American Scissor Lift offers after-sale services for their equipment. Professional from American Scissor Lift perform any factory warranty work in the field as long as your work site is within 50 miles of the company’s sale location.
- Monthly specials: American Scissor Lift offers regular monthly specials on used equipment. These machines are subject to availability.
- Best for temporary indoor and outdoor work projects in California.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.