Telehandlers vs Boom Lifts

telehandler vs boom lift

Aerial lifts come in many shapes and sizes, and they perform a variety of functions. Two of the most common types of aerial lifts include boom lifts and telehandlers. If you use aerial lifts on a regular basis, there’s a good chance you’ve already used boom lifts and telehandlers. Understanding the difference between a boom lift vs. telehandler can help you make the right choice for the task at hand.

Boom Lifts vs. Telehandlers: What You Need to Know

A boom lift – also sometimes referred to as a zoom boom liftis an elevated work platform that holds workers, materials, or other essential job supplies or items. It encompasses different types of aerial work surfaces and equipment, including:

  • Telehandlers
  • Scissor lifts
  • Cherry pickers
  • Articulating boom lifts (jointed, with a flexible mechanism for custom positioning)
  • Telescopic boom lifts (straight-line boom lifts, with custom height options)
  • Telescopic forklifts

So what is a telehandler, exactly? It’s a special type of boom lift, and it has multiple moving joints and can be moved both horizontally (side to side) and vertically (up and down). On top of that, a telehandler has customized attachments, so it provides more versatility in comparison to a standard boom lift.

Types of Telehandlers and Boom Lifts

There are two types of telehandlers: standard fixed boom and rotating models. A standard fixed boom telehandler has a low range of motion, and it is commonly used for construction and agricultural applications. On the other hand, a rotating telehandler has a cab and body that rotates up to 360°, while the machine’s body remains in place at all times. 

Along with these types of telehandlers, you can explore compact and heavy lift models. There are also telehandlers designed for rough terrain and other specialized applications.In comparison, common boom lifts – also known as zoom boom lifts include:

1. Articulating Boom Lift

An articulating boom lift is sometimes referred to as a “knuckle boom.” It has a turntable at the end of an arm; the turntable swivels to provide an operator with vertical and horizontal reach. 

Articulating boom lifts can extend up to 125 ft. vertically and up to 75% of their height. They are intended for indoor and outdoor work applications and can be electric- or diesel-powered.

​​2. Telescopic Boom Lift

A telescopic boom lift, aka a “stick boom,” consists of a bucket at the end of an arm that only extends in a straight line. To use a stick boom, an operator extends the machine’s arm horizontally. Then, he or she can move the arm up and down.

Telescopic booms can extend up to 185 ft. vertically. As such, they are great options for operators who need to perform cleaning, maintenance, or repairs at the top of tall buildings.

It can be easier to operate a telescopic boom than an articulating one. This is due to the fact that a telescopic model only has a single boom.

3. Atrium Lift

An atrium lift is categorized as a type of articulating zoom boom lift. Whereas an articulating boom has wheels, an atrium lift has tracks similar to those used on excavators. Therefore, an atrium lift can be ideal for use on rough terrain.

Atrium lifts tend to be narrower and lighter than comparable boom lift options. They offer a maximum vertical reach of 60 ft.       

Which is Right for My Work Duties?

When weighing the standard telehandler vs. boom lift on the job, it’s important to understand their uses. A telehandler is used to lift, move, and place material. The machine is designed to handle a broad assortment of materials, including bricks, gravel and lumber

The effectiveness of a telehandler ultimately depends on the types of attachments used in combination with the machine. If your business wants to get the most value out of its telehandler, it should explore different attachments. This ensures that your business can use your telehandler for myriad applications.

A zoom boom lift can be used to elevate workers and materials. Operators can use certain types of boom lifts to complete tasks at heights and maneuver around obstacles or corners.

Boom lifts can also provide viable alternatives to scissor lifts. Both boom and scissor lifts enable operators to perform work at heights. But a boom lift can offer greater maneuverability than a scissor lift.  

One of the biggest disadvantages to boom lifts is their limited capacity. Most models only have a small platform that can hold one or two workers and their tools. This can make it difficult to complete large projects. Additionally, because boom lifts rely on hydraulics to function, they can be susceptible to malfunctions in extreme weather conditions. Finally, boom lifts require special training to operate, which can add to the overall cost of your project.

Comparing the Sizes of Telehandler vs. Boom Lift

If you’re considering a telehandler vs. boom lift for your worksite, you should first evaluate why you need such equipment in the first place. By understanding the various strengths and drawbacks associated with different pieces of machinery, you can make the right decision for the task at hand. Location, size, and weight must all be factored into the equation.  

Compact telehandlers are generally ideal for indoor worksites. They are smaller and lighter than other telehandlers, which makes them simple to maneuver, particularly in tight work areas. 

Conversely, if you plan to use a telehandler for heavy-duty applications, you may need a larger model. A heavy-duty telehandler typically has a weight capacity that ranges from 6,000 lbs. to 14,000 lbs. It also may extend up to 56 ft. 

Regardless of your telehandler size, you should always ensure the boom lift is used properly. By providing your telehandler operators with comprehensive training, you can teach them how to correctly use a telehandler and limit the risk of boom lift accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

For operators who work indoors and require access to narrow spaces, a 30-ft. electric boom lift can be a terrific option. This small lift ensures operators can use their machine safely and limit their risk of tip-overs and other accidents. 

Comparatively, a large zoom boom lift can reach up to 185 ft. vertically. This lift is capable of extending up to the 19th story of a building.

Telehandler vs. Boom Lift Attachments

The right telehandler attachments can make all the difference in terms of effectiveness. Choosing between a telehandler vs. boom lift often boils down to the available attachments. Such attachments allow you to maximize both productivity and worker safety

Common telehandler attachments include:

  • Forks (which turn an aerial lift into a forklift for uncommon height requirements)
  • Lifting/rigging hooks
  • Buckets (great for construction work, moving earth, etc.)
  • Swivel hooks
  • Spreader bars
  • Standard work platforms
  • Lifting jib (a versatile accessory for rigging and heavy loads)
  • Trash hoppers

Zoom boom lift attachments include:

  • Spill guards
  • Tool trays
  • Panel cradles
  • Control box covers
  • Auxiliary rail

All boom lifts should enable operators to safely handle tasks at heights. Boom lift operators must also receive OSHA-approved certification training. In doing so, they can use boom lifts and related attachments in accordance with OSHA requirements.  

Telehandler vs Boom Lift FAQs

1. What is the difference between boom lift and aerial lift?

A boom lift is a type of aerial platform that uses a telescoping arm to raise people or equipment to high places. Aerial lifts, such as cherry pickers, use an extensible boom to reach elevations or positions that are otherwise difficult or impossible to access.

2. What are the two types of boom lifts?

There are two types of boom lifts: articulating and telescopic. Telescoping boom lifts have a stationary upper platform that extends and retracts a sectioned arm to reach the desired height. Articulating boom lifts have an upper platform that can rotate 360 degrees, allowing the user to reach various angles.

3. Is a telehandler the same as a zoom boom?

No, a telehandler is a type of forklift that has an extendable boom arm. This allows the machine to transport heavy objects high into the air. A zoom boom is similar to a telehandler, but it typically has more reach and can carry heavier loads.

Prioritize Aerial Lift Safety for Workers

Regardless of whether a telehandler vs. a boom lift is right for your next job, it’s important to operate these pieces of equipment as safely as possible. Proper training is vital to workplace safety. Education can make workers more informed and less likely to involved in a workplace accident. Proper certification can also help organizations avoid expensive OSHA fines and penalties. 

Since all aerial lift workers must be properly trained and certified before they begin using such equipment, it’s important that your organization have a plan for professional development. is a great option for convenient, affordable training for new and experienced lift operators alike. Our 100 percent OSHA-approved program allows learners to become fully certified and ready to work in about an hour’s time. 

To learn more about our zoom boom lift safety training program or enroll your workers in it, please contact us online or call us today at (888) 278-8896.

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