Equipment used to elevate workers into position on tall buildings, trees or other structures varies slightly in their capabilities but all work similarly. Learn about a few options for work requiring an employee lift below. 

What Is a Boom Lift? 

The boom lift has several nicknames, including cherry picker. This is a small vehicle with an attached lift that raises and lowers employees. Boom lifts carry lighter loads or a single worker carries few tools. If you want to use a boom lift, make sure that your job will only require lifting lightweight equipment. 

As far as how much a boom lift can handle, the limit will depend on the model, but the maximum is around a ton. When considering a boom lift versus a crane, the crane usually has a longer boom but can lift less weight. 

Boom lifts are unable to be driven on public roads and must be transported to each job site. They are useful tools for trimming tree limbs, carrying window glass and many other functions. 

What Is a Bucket Truck? 

The bucket truck is also called a boom truck. Essentially, any truck with a mounted bucket or “boom” that extends to reach distant heights is considered a bucket truck. A bucket truck can lift workers or equipment required to perform a job task more safely than a ladder in many circumstances. Companies that use bucket trucks often send workers to job sites as a third-party service, but it’s also possible to buy a bucket truck for your company. 

A bucket truck traditionally has an internal combustion diesel engine, but hybrid models are slowly becoming more popular to see in the workplace. This type of vehicle can support a high-capacity load of 400 to 2,000 pounds. This capacity is often more weight than the boom lift, which is why you should consider using a bucket truck if your work involves moving or applying heavy, bulky materials. 

For a standard bucket truck, the engine is connected to the transmission, which allows this vehicle to operate the differential. The secondary shaft or PTO powers hydraulic rams within the truck, which raise or lower the lift. Most bucket trucks also have an auxiliary internal combustion engine installed on the chassis. The auxiliary engine might have a smaller displacement and horsepower, which allows it to conserve fuel without sacrificing the truck’s functionality. 

The role of a hydraulic system is to keep powering the vehicle when the lift is being used. Hybrid trucks usually have two engines to ensure the lift continues to get power when it needs to be operated. The diesel engine in a hybrid truck powers the transmission for driving the vehicle, and it is located under the hood, like what you would find in other commercial trucks. The hybrid capability comes from the electric motor, which you can find with the diesel engine, and this is what powers the hydraulic system. 

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What Are Cranes? 

Cranes are often used for heavy lifting and are generally the most stable option. They are either mobile or fixed in place. They can be used to move objects with cables, chains or ropes, but a winder might also be appropriate. 

Fixed cranes are used in industrial facilities for moving on-site products or materials. Mobile cranes are taken to job sites where a lift is required to complete a task. 

Types of cranes include the hydraulic, which are street legal, and the rough terrain variety, which is designed to travel over work sites. One more type is the crawler crane, which moves on tracks and offers a powerful lift. 

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Which Is the Right Choice for Your Application? 

The most common uses of the above equipment are in the following industries: 

  • Construction: A bucket truck is commonly employed on construction sites for raising panels and building materials. A rough terrain crane is designed for use when a project is just getting started, and a crawler crane can support the most tons of weight. 
  • Forestry and landscaping: A boom lift is ideal for landscaping purposes, such as cutting away tree limbs from power lines. 
  • Electric and telecommunications: A boom truck is often used for electrical work, but the other two options are feasible.  
  • Painting: A boom lift is a good choice for working on the exterior of a house or business. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Each Type? 

To determine which truck is right for you, you can also consider the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

The Boom Lift 


  • It is the perfect size for jobs requiring only one worker and lightweight tools. 
  • It has a bucket designed for a worker to stand in. 
  • It has a lot of maneuverability. 
  • It works well for lift jobs. 


  • It is smaller than a bucket truck, which limits its capacity to smaller projects. 
  • Your workers would have to haul it to the job site instead of driving the vehicle across public roads. 

The Bucket Truck 


  • It is typically used for heavy-duty projects. 
  • You can drive the bucket truck on public roads as a licensed commercial vehicle. If your team has to change the location of the job site on short notice, you can do this easily. 


  • It is unable to stack objects with as much finesse as the smaller cherry picker. 
  • It is unsafe to use at a sloped angle or in certain conditions, such as windy weather. 

The Crane 


  • It has a very high weight limit.  
  • It is safe to lift more than two people using a crane, but many trucks can only support one or two workers. 
  • It uses a counterweight for maximum balance. 


  • It might require a heavy haul trailer to transport to the job site, especially the rough terrain type.

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