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Businesses that have a warehouse can benefit tremendously from one or more forklifts. But, the huge volume of lift trucks on the market and the dizzying array of options they can come equipped with makes choosing one a difficult prospect. This buying guide for warehouse forklifts breaks down the major purchasing choices available to you and provides a basic idea of how much your initial investment will cost.
Major Options for Warehouse Forklifts
When purchasing a forklift, you must first decide whether you want one that runs off of an electric motor or an internal combustion engine. The pros and cons of each are as follows:
- Electric warehouse forklifts: These lift trucks run off of the same type of large batteries you find in your car. When fully charged, electric battery propelled forklifts can provide five or six hours of continual use and produce zero to no emissions, making them ideal for indoor use. The cost up front for an electronic forklift is typically higher than that of an internal combustion machine, but the total cost of ownership tends to be lower.
- Internal combustion warehouse forklifts: This type of forklift runs off of fossil fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Cheaper to purchase initially, the long term cost of ownership is usually higher, as internal combustion forklifts require more maintenance and have a larger amount of working parts that need to be replaced. On the flipside, internal combustion lift trucks can handle heavier loads, can easily be adapted to outdoor use, and are simpler and faster to refuel.
Factors That Affect Average Warehouse Forklift Costs
Your decision to buy an electric or internal combustion forklift partially determines the overall cost of a new machine, but there are additional factors to consider as well, including:
- Type of tires: Solid rubber cushion tires are best for indoor use and cost less, while more expensive, compressed-air inflated pneumatic tires are more durable but also costlier.
- Safety and comfort: A safer, more ergonomic vehicle may cost more, but could keep your workers safer, more comfortable, and by extension, happier and more productive. And speaking of safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict regulations for forklift operation, including licensing and re-certification, that you must comply with.
- Work Conditions: Will the forklift be operating in large areas or narrow spaces? How heavy are loads and how high do they need to be moved? Understanding a forklifts primary use will facilitate your purchasing choice.
- Add-ons: Attachments that allow a machine to pick up loads of different sizes and shapes (such as spools, large drums, and items that aren't on a pallet) can be added to a forklift to increase its functionality.
Warehouse Forklift Sample Costs
Due to the numerous cost factors described above and local price differences for lift trucks, fuel and electricity costs, and maintenance costs, the following prices are only meant to serve as a rough outline of how much a warehouse forklift costs.
- A standard warehouse forklift has a capacity of around 3,000 to 10,000 pounds, with 5,000 lbs. being the industry standard.
- A brand new 5,000 lb. electric forklift might cost approximately $17,500 to $25,000 and up, plus the cost of one battery and a charger which typically retails for around $2,500 to $5,000.
- A brand new 5,000 lb. internal combustion forklift costs about $15,000 to $30,000 and up.
- As forklift capacity increases, so too does the price, and more powerful machines are typically only available with internal combustion engines.
- A new internal combustion forklift with a 10,000 lb. capacity might cost around $25,000 to $50,000.
- A machine capable of lifting 35,000+ lbs. could easily set you back $100,000 or more.
- A used, reconditioned electric warehouse forklift might cost around $6,000 to $12,000 or more depending on its capacity and condition.
- The price for a used, reconditioned internal combustion forklift is roughly $5,000 to $20,000 and up based on its capacity and condition.
- The cost to certify a forklift operator is approximately $50 to $250 per person depending on location and the number of trainees.