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Scissor Lifts vs Boom Lifts: A Comparison

Access Platforms Buyers' Guide

The two most common types of access platform are Scissor Lifts and Boom Lifts - which one is the correct option for you will depend on what type of job you need doing as well as the physical parameters of the area in which the job will take place.

Choosing the Right Lift for the Job

Before choosing which type of platform to use you will need to know:

  • How many personnel will need to be on the lift at any one time;
  • The approximate weight of the personnel and equipment that will be lifted;
  • How high the highest point of access needs to be;
  • What kind of terrain will the lift be positioned on.
Scissor Lifts

Scissor Lifts have two key advantages over other designs: larger working areas and the potential to lift much larger loads.


The working platforms aboard scissor lifts are often much larger than on boom lifts and, depending on the type of model, can sometimes offer your workers an extended horizontal reach of between 4-6 feet.

This means that more equipment and extra workers can be accommodated. Their design also means that they can carry a much heavier load than boom lifts: certain models can lift weights of up to 2,500lbs which is a huge bonus for jobs that require heavier loads.


The disadvantage of using a scissor lift is that they can only extend vertically which will restrict the number of jobs they can be used for. However, if you require straight up and down access and are looking to bear a heavy load with increased working area then a scissor lift would be the perfect option.

Boom Lifts

If the job you are doing requires a more complicated access strategy eg there is an obstacle such as a tree or a building that needs to be overcome, then boom lifts will offer you the best flexibility.


Boom lifts are constructed using an extending arm that has a joint in the middle that is sometimes referred to as an ‘elbow’. This type of lift offers a much greater level of flexibility when compared to a scissor lift because it can be maneuvered around and over obstacles.

They are relatively straight forward to control and can be used to access areas that other lifts would not be able to reach.

They have a much greater height potential with smaller articulated booms being able to reach up to 60ft, whilst the largest machines, telescopic in their design, can offer access up to an impressive 330ft.

If you need a lift with good maneuverability and a high reach then this is the type of lift you should be looking to get hold of.


The only disadvantage of boom lifts is that they are not able to bear anywhere near as much weight as scissor lifts. With scissor lifts all of the support is directly below the platform. Because the weight of a boom lift is extended away from the main body on an arm, they will usually not be able to support a weight of anything above 500 lbs.

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