Propane Vs. Electric Forklifts: Which One Is Better?

Trying to decide between propane vs. electric forklifts? We have you covered!

Many factors are at play when it comes to propane vs. electric forklifts: run-time requirements, your company’s environmental stance, and even the number of shifts. Ultimately, the answer lies not in which is better, but in which better fits your operation.

A yellow propane forklift in an empty warehouse.

Historically, propane forklifts ranked first in outdoor applications. With tougher features designed for outdoor use, electric forklifts have pushed propane forklifts down a spot. This is just one instance of the electric forklift vs. propane choice being difficult, even for experienced buyers.

However, the two different forklifts are essentially that- two different forklifts. We're here to assist you in your propane vs. electric forklift decision. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of each below!

Propane Forklift Rundown

5 Advantages:

  1. Power is consistent throughout usage. As long as there is fuel in your propane forklift, always expect full capacity operation!
  2. Operation is possible nearly anywhere, given the right tires. Not even gravel, dirt, pavement, rain, and snow will stand in your propane forklift’s way!
  3. No need to interrupt business for refills or recharging. One tank per shift will get the job done!
  4. Aside from having to change propane cylinders, there’s little risk of running out of fuel.  
  5. The propane forklift has an automatic, shut-off option under safety features. This option will prevent the flow of fuel should an accident occur.

5 Disadvantages:

  1. The emissions from this forklift can be toxic, making it unsuitable for certain applications and dangerous for operators. Learn more about propane safety regulations here.
  2. The noise coming from the propane forklift could disturb a client or customer within earshot. It can be thunderous at best, deafening at worst.
  3. The odors that emit from the forklift make it difficult to work in tight or closed-off spaces.
  4. You might need a variety of forklifts on your team, as the rising prices on fuel can take a toll on your budget.
  5. The maintenance for propane forklifts can be expensive.

Electric Forklift Rundown

5 Advantages:

  1. Electric forklifts don't produce emissions.
  2. Despite their cost initially being higher, electric forklifts will eventually pay for themselves through lower operating costs.
  3. They are a cleaner and quieter alternative to their propane forklift counterparts.
  4. Charge the battery every night and perform routine battery maintenance to enjoy your next electric forklift shift!
  5. With technological improvements in charging systems, the battery and charge life are continuously advancing. Two shift applications sometimes avoid battery changes altogether!

5 Disadvantages:

  1. Cold/wet applications and high/constant duty will cause underperformance in your electric forklift.
  2. Electric forklifts demand a higher cost upfront.
  3. While some models might function outdoors, they are primarily designed for indoor use. Avoid dust, moisture, and vibration for a happier electric forklift!
  4. Proper safety equipment for your electric forklift will create additional costs.
  5. Need a vehicle to hold you over until your unit is repaired? You’re out of luck! Most of this equipment is not readily accessible to rent.
A yellow electric forklift parked in a warehouse.

Take Away

Depending on the industry you’re in, the propane vs. electric forklift choice is simple. For instance, if you’re in food or pharmaceuticals, the zero emissions from electric forklifts make for an ideal candidate. However, the answer isn’t always so clear-cut.

You now have the resources to make an educated decision. Looking for a new forklift? Industrial Forklift Truck can help! We provide free pricing and information on both electric and propane forklift models.

Find the lowest price on the equipment your business needs. Push the button below to get started!

Didn't find what you were looking for? Here are some additional resources:

Should I Buy an Electric or Internal Combustion Forklift?

Types of Forklifts: Which Machine is Best for Me?