The Differences Between Scissor Lifts and Aerial Lifts

The Differences Between Scissor Lifts and Aerial Lifts

Various construction or maintenance workers may need to ascend to high heights to complete their tasks. Construction sites are at a disadvantage if they don’t have the right tools to help them reach specific parts of a building or tree. Before purchasing a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP), you need to understand the different types from which to choose. Let’s start with understanding the differences between scissor lifts and aerial lifts.

The Scissor Lift

To fully understand what you need out of a MEWP, you need to question the direction your job requires you to go. For instance, you need the scissor lift if you want to move up and down.

What’s different about the scissor lift compared to the aerial is that, when in operation, the platform rises in the shape of an “X.” Compared to the look of literal scissors, the name comes from the lift’s appearance.

Additionally, the scissor lift’s contractions can be hydraulic, pneumatic, or mechanical. Some machines won’t require much power to descend, but it releases a pneumatic or hydraulic tension once pushed.

Many businesses prefer this release type as it allows the user to have a fail-safe option of manually pulling a valve.

The Aerial Lift

In spaces that require strategic movement around obstacles, the aerial lift comes in handy. With a hydraulic arm, it can move around occupied or blocked areas. The aerial lift comes in two forms: articulating and telescopic.

While articulating aerial lifts pivot, the telescopic forklift is straighter and requires more work to move around. Also, the aerial lift can reach higher areas compared to the scissor lift.

Choosing the MEWP

There are two things to consider when selecting between the aerial and scissor lift: accessibility and elevation.


Many construction site workers must consider the direction of movement they’ll need to work. For instance, if you need to go up, a scissor lift works better. Alternatively, you will want an aerial lift if you need to go over to other parts of the construction site.


Now that you know what direction you need to go to get around barriers, you need to determine the height of your project. In other words, how high does your job require you to go? If you require a higher height level, you need an aerial lift, as modern scissor lifts only go up to 40 feet.

After concluding the differences between scissor and aerial lifts, continue training yourself and your employees with an aerial lift training program. The training program helps demonstrate different aerial types and how each one helps you accomplish tasks.

First Quality Forklift Training has many programs to improve current employees’ skill sets and introduce new concepts to inexperienced workers. For more information on our forklift training programs, contact us here.

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