Forklifts are very versatile pieces of machinery and can be used both indoors and outdoors for a variety of lifting and carrying tasks. However, if you run a construction site, home improvement store, or have another application where the same forklift will be required for both indoor and outdoor use, choosing the right forklift model is key.
Many forklifts are designed specifically for either indoor or outdoor use, and finding a forklift that can perform equally well in both environments can be challenging. If you are looking for a new forklift for both indoor and outdoor use, look for a model with the following features:
Electric or Gas Drive
Forklifts with diesel or gasoline engines are robust and cost-effective, but they are generally unsuitable for indoor use. Diesel and gasoline engines produce toxic fumes while running, and operating one of these forklifts in an indoor environment can put forklift operators and other employees at risk, especially if the space is small and poorly ventilated.
Electric forklifts are more suitable for indoor/outdoor applications, and do not produce any dangerous fumes. Cheaper electric models have limited lifting strength and are geared towards light-duty indoor tasks, but heavy duty electric forklifts with larger batteries can take on rough terrain and large loads just as well as diesel and gasoline forklifts.
Bear in mind that electric forklifts must have their batteries charged at a suitable charging station every so often, which can be inconvenient if you intend to use your forklift outdoors for extended periods. When choosing your forklift, be sure to choose a model with sufficient power storage capacity for extended use.
Forklifts powered by propane or compressed natural gas are also suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, as they also do not produce toxic fumes. If you intend to use your forklift in outdoor areas where electric charging stations are unavailable, these forklifts can be an excellent alternative. However, they are rarer and more expensive than electric forklifts, and they have higher running costs.
Most forklifts are designed to be used with a specific type of tire, and many forklifts designed for indoor use are fitted with solid rubber 'cushion' tires. These smooth, untreaded tires are ideal for use indoors, but they provide very little traction on rough, unpaved terrain, and can easily be damaged by loose stones or cracked concrete. Forklifts with cushion tires also have limited lifting capacity
Instead, you should look for a forklift with pneumatic tires. These tires are thicker and more durable, have much more load-bearing strength, and feature treads that can handle rough and/or wet terrain without issues. Many pneumatic tires are air-filled, but you can also find forklifts fitted with solid pneumatic tires. Solid pneumatics are more expensive, but virtually puncture-proof.
To learn more about purchasing a new forklift, contact a construction equipment company, like Lift Solutions, Inc.