Forklift Fuel Types: Which is the Best Fit?

Operator using an electric forklift to transport pallets inside a warehouse

There are lots of options when it comes to forklift fuel types. Many forklifts accomplish the same tasks but use different power sources. The type of equipment you choose will depend on your workplace and needs.

First, you’ll have to decide between electric and internal combustion. Internal combustion forklifts, or IC forklifts, use fuel to operate, like cars. The most common forklift fuel types are gasoline, diesel, or liquefied petroleum gas.

Propane forklifts, which run on liquefied petroleum gas, are the most popular type of IC lift. Most industries choose between propane vs electric forklifts. However, there are many different options available.

Choosing the right equipment will increase the productivity and efficiency of your business. Learn more about each forklift fuel type to determine which one is the best fit for your operation.

Electric Forklifts

Electric forklifts operate on a rechargeable battery. This battery itself can cost around $2,500. Because of this, electric forklifts generally cost more upfront than IC options. However, these forklifts cost less over their lifetime. This is due to their low repair and maintenance costs, plus eliminated fuel costs.

The main advantage of electric forklifts is that they don’t produce harmful emissions. This is great not only for the environment but also for indoor air quality. Use these machines inside safely without worrying about the ventilation of fumes.

Electric forklifts are quieter, offer improved ergonomics, and need less maintenance. However, they are more expensive upfront and take longer to refuel. Batteries can take up to 8 hours to charge, followed by an 8 hour cooling period. Hydrogen forklifts can solve some of these issues, but are pricey.

Consider investing in an electric forklift for safe indoor operation.

Internal Combustion Forklifts

Unlike electric models, internal combustion forklifts run on fuel. This is the most popular engine type for forklifts. IC forklift fuel types include propane, diesel, and gas.

These forklifts have a lower upfront cost but are more expensive over their lifetime. Expenses include repairs, maintenance, and fuel. Internal combustion forklifts are versatile and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Keep in mind that IC forklifts emit carbon monoxide. If used indoors, these emissions must be accounted for and dealt with.

Internal combustion forklifts are also easier to refuel. Fill your tank in as little as five minutes.

Types of IC Forklifts

There are different types of internal combustion forklifts. Each one has different advantages and disadvantages. Learn more about each type before purchasing equipment.

1. Propane Forklifts

A propane forklift runs on liquefied petroleum gas. That’s why this equipment is often referred to as an LP forklift. These machines are quieter than diesel but louder than electric.

When considering propane vs electric forklifts, think about where you operate. LP forklifts are ideal for remote applications that don’t have access to charging or refilling stations. Most operations use propane forklifts because of their convenience. It is faster to change a propane tank than to swap batteries.

Propane forklifts are also built for tough outdoor tasks. These machines can handle any terrain, both indoors and outdoors. An LP forklift offers versatility, power, and efficiency. An added benefit is quick refueling time and remote capabilities. Consider the pros and cons of propane vs electric forklifts before choosing.

2. Diesel Forklifts

Diesel is efficient and allows for longer run times than other forklift fuel types. These engines have higher torque than propane and gas options. This results in increased gradeability and acceleration. Diesel forklifts are also easy to refill. Keep in mind that diesel fuel is generally more expensive than gasoline.

These machines are loud and produce many emissions during operation. Because of this, diesel forklifts are only intended for outdoor use. Diesel forklifts are usually only available with pneumatic tires. Use this equipment to tackle tough outdoor projects.

3. Gas Forklifts

Gas forklifts are the least common type. Operations looking for gas-powered forklifts usually opt for dual fuel forklifts instead. The biggest obstacle gasoline forklifts face is the lack of fueling stations.

Since they don’t have a propane tank on the back, gas forklifts have added rear visibility. Gas forklifts are also more powerful than diesel options. They even offer faster travel and lifting speeds. If you have refueling stations readily available, a gas forklift might be a good option.

LP forklift unloading pallets from a semi-truck

Choosing a Forklift Fuel Type

Now that you know more about forklift fuel types, you should have a better idea of what you’re looking for. Need more guidance? Let Industrial Forklift Truck help.

Answer some questions about what you need and we’ll find forklift listings that match. Receive free pricing and information on each one. Compare your options in one place to find the perfect fit.

Browse the largest inventory of forklifts for sale nationwide. We carry all forklift fuel types to fit a variety of industries. Shop quality new and used equipment today.

Find an Electric or Internal Combustion Forklift for Your Operation.