What is a Scissor Lift and Its Uses?

What is a Scissor Lift

Scissor Lift is a piece of equipment typically used by people/workers to access vertical heights. As a simple explanation, a scissor lift is made up of three main components – the carrier, the cross members, and the working platform. 

The carrier is the bottom part of the machine on which the wheels, the engine/motor, and the elevated platform is mounted.

The next component, the cross members are what gives the scissor lift its name, since its movement is very similar to that of a scissor in motion. These cross members are what move the working platform in an up down manner.

The third component, the elevated platform is the work area for the user. It has a control panel with joysticks which actually operate the up-down movement and the maneuvering functions of the equipment. 

Types of Scissor Lifts

Scissor Lifts are known by different names in different markets. In some markets, they are called Elevated Work Platforms or EWPs whereas in others, they may also be known as Aerial Work Platforms or AWPs.

They are widely used in the construction, maintenance, logistics and events industry by contractors for electrical installation, panel installation, welding works, etc. 

In the maintenance industry scissor lifts are mainly used to carry out ceiling cleaning and electrical repair work. The logistics industry uses scissors lifts for lifting and placing cargo. The events industry uses Scissor Lifts mainly for camera and lighting placements. 

These Lifts also have the flexibility to have accessories like pipe racks, welding machines, air compressors and water pumps installed on their platform, to make working conditions easier.

Scissor Lifts can have three distinct power sources. 

1. Diesel Scissor Lifts are primarily used for outdoor functions/activities. They typically range from 8 metres to 16 metres in platform height. The carrying capacity ranges from 450kgs to a little over 1000kgs. Typically, two to three people can comfortably work on a Diesel Scissor Lift at one point of time.

2. Electric Scissor Lifts are primarily used for indoor functions/activities. They are also used outdoors where there is a sound restriction, or if there are low-capacity floors, due to their lighter weight. They are also used outdoors if there is a pollution restriction. The Electric Scissor Lift can also be connected to a traditional power socket and used fully on an electric power supply. The carrying capacity ranges from 450kgs to a little over 800kgs. Typically, one to two people can comfortably work on an Electric Scissor Lift at one point of time.

3. Hybrid Scissor Lifts offer the flexibility of both Diesel and Electric Scissor Lifts. They can be run outdoors on diesel and indoors on electricity. The diesel motor can also be used to charge the electric battery. Further, the Hybrid Scissor Lift can also be connected to a traditional power socket and used fully on an electric power supply.

How to Choose the Right Scissor Lift

Choosing the right Scissor Lift is a relatively straightforward activity. There are two main criteria to be checked – one is the amount of weight to be carried on the platform and the second is up to what height we need to go. 

Once these two criteria are determined, we can select the appropriate model we need. Additional criteria include the available work area and the accessibility to the work area. Furthermore, we need to check whether we are working indoors or outdoors, and the flatness and stability of the floor area on which the machine will work.

As mentioned before, different scissor lifts have different weight-carrying capacities. The weight to be carried is calculated by totalling the weight of the number of people working on the platform and additionally, the weight of the tools being carried by them. It is very important to be within the safe working load limit of the scissor lift.

While determining the height of the work area, it is important to calculate two variables – one is the platform height, and the other is the working height. Platform height is the max height of the floor of the platform from the ground, whereas working height is the max height that can be reached by the workers working on the platform. So, for example, if the working height is 10 meters, a machine with a platform height of between 8.5 – 9.5 meters will be suitable.

While calculating the available work area for the Scissor Lift to work safely, we must keep in mind that the outriggers of the Scissor Lift also need to be accommodated within the given space. Most Scissor Lifts have outriggers on which they work. While working, the wheels do not touch the ground, the Scissor Lift rests on the outrigger. The work area needs to be calculated with the outriggers fully extended. 

Different Scissor Lifts have different sizes and turning radiuses. To access the site, the path of movement must be pre-determined in order to make sure the machine can turn fully and comfortably to reach its work area. Furthermore, the floor on which the Scissor Lift will work should be as flat as possible since these lifts are not designed to work on a slope. The load bearing capacity of the floor should also be pre-determined so that the machine may not collapse under its own weight on the work site.

Ensure Operational Safety of a Scissor Lift

All workers on a Scissor Lift must have the requisite training in the safe operation of the lift. Training should be provided by a certified IPAF Training School on a regular basis. All PPE equipment must be used at all times including a proper fall arrest system. 

Why Do You Need to Rent a Scissor Lift?

Renting a scissor lift is a smart move because it not only provides the equipment when you need it but also saves you from the hassles of storage. The transport equipment rental company takes care of the scissor lift once your job is done, keeping your costs lower by eliminating storage expenses. This approach is cost-efficient, as you only pay for the scissor lifts when they’re actively contributing to your tasks. It’s a flexible and economical solution to ensure you have access to the equipment without unnecessary overhead costs during periods when scissor lifts aren’t in use for most of your projects.


Scissor lift is a versatile and essential tool in various industries that provides efficient vertical mobility for tasks at varying heights. Its user-friendly design and adaptability make it indispensable for maintenance, construction, and other applications where elevated access is crucial for productivity and safety. If you’re looking for an efficient scissor lift for your project, request a quote NOW.

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