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How to Choose the Correct Aerial Lift for the Job


electrical work can require a cherry picker

Aerial lifts are machines used in many construction projects that allow workers to reach heights while not having to spend time or funds on building scaffolding. Aerial lifts are also used for maintenance work such as cleaning windows on tall buildings. There are a few different types of aerial lifts to accommodate the varying tasks needed, including bucket trucks, boom lifts, telescopic boom lifts, and scissor lifts. Below we will look into each type more carefully to determine when you would use each aerial lift for specific jobs.

Bucket Trucks


This type of equipment is also known as a cherry picker and they are typically used to prune trees, landscaping, and by utility workers. But many power companies use bucket lifts for workers to access transmission lines. The lifting arm and bucket is situated on a standard vehicle so they can travel on roads following the traffic speed. Bucket trucks are also widely used for construction projects, painting, industrial maintenance, and other tasks. This is one of the most widely used aerial lifts in use today. Many workers use bucket trucks as their initial aerial lift. Bucket trucks provide a solid foundation for using other types of aerial lifts.

articulating boom lift used for utility work

Articulating Boom Lifts

This aerial lift is also known as a knuckle lift and has a platform mounted on an arm which has a swiveling base to allow the operator to get around obstacles and awkward spaces. When a worker needs to access exterior electrical, piping, or to repair something on a building, the articulating boom lift will provide the access to hard-to-reach areas. They allow workers to reach up and over obstructions and are ideal for roofing jobs. Industrial lifts are ideal for indoor operation and are usually made with non-marking tires. Rough terrain articulating lifts are designed to navigate construction site terrain. Both indoor and outdoor articulating boom lifts are common types of aerial lifts, and we recommend getting proper training for this type of lift. Our Training Kit, Train a Trainer and Bundle Package courses are designed to help anyone operate an articulating boom lift more efficiently.

Telescopic Boom Lifts

For the projects that require maximum height in order for the operator to access the area, a telescopic boom lift is used. A standing bucket is mounted on a straight, extendable lifting arm and the base sits on a turntable like an articulating boom lift. A telescopic boom lift can only accommodate one worker, so this type of lift is best used for specific tasks that a single person can handle, like electrical repair or window washing. They can reach in any direction and are ideal for reaching horizontal or vertical applications. Some typical job sites that require a telescopic boom lift include water plants, cell phone towers, window glazing & repair, heavy machinery maintenance, and power line work. Given their potential and realized height capabilities, workers should be aware of power lines, high winds, and other hazards unique to telescopic boom lifts.

Scissor Lifts

Scissor lifts have an extendable, crisscrossing brace that mounts a wide platform that can accommodate several workers. The wide platform allows workers on construction sites to carry building material. However, a scissor lift is much more limited in use when compared to the other lifts and it cannot handle hard-to-reach areas, as it needs to be situated directly below the work site. Scissor lifts cannot swivel around or be set at an angle, so they are used solely for overhead work, especially indoors or on flat surfaces. They are great for ventilation, air conditioning, and electrical projects. For outdoor projects such as construction sites, all-terrain scissor lifts are able to provide extra stability on a variety of surfaces, including gravel, uneven grades, concrete, and many others. Because outdoor scissor deal with terrain challenges, there are specific training requirements that apply to this type of lift.

When you are deciding which aerial lift to choose for your specific job, the height and the reach requirements, outdoor or indoor working environments, and the weight capacity you’ll need for your particular job will tell you which type of equipment you need.

If you need to train any of your employees in how to operate all types of aerial lifts properly and safely, check out the OSHA-compliant aerial lift certification with

From Utilities to Yuletide Decorating: Endless & Interesting Aerial Lift Uses

The Different Used for Truck-Mounted Aerial Lifts

Truck-mounted aerial lifts are the ultimate, go-anywhere job site tool. While a good portion of truck-mounted aerial lifts are used for commercial electrical jobs, power and phone line repairs, and other similar tasks, did you know they’re also popular for other jobs, too? This informational post gives you a sneak peek into the fascinating world of truck-mounted aerial lifts. You probably figured this type of aerial lift is ideal for tree trimming. But you might not have known that truck-mounted aerial lifts are very popular for residential and commercial light installations (including holiday displays), sign and billboard work, window cleaning, and more. Plus, many Hollywood movie productions wouldn’t be possible without a dependable truck-mounted aerial lift for unique camera angles, lighting assistance, and more. Lights, camera…and truck-mounted aerial lift action! Read this blog, and you’ll discover why an aerial lift’s versatility, combined with a truck’s dependability, creates one of the most popular construction, repair and maintenance vehicle on the road – or at any job site – today!

Utility workers use aerial lifts on a daily basis – in thousands of different jobs, every day all across the country. Just as the name implies, utility work consists of many different things. For construction sites, a utility worker may use an aerial lift to connect power lines, help paint a water tower, or help ensure clearance for large construction vehicles. But that’s not all – utility workers are also involved in an almost limitless array of jobs and duties. In this article, you’ll learn how telescopic lifts, articulated lifts, and bucket trucks are utilized by utility workers. From large construction firms to small contracting outfits, utility workers have to be versatile. – This ability to adapt to changing on-the-job circumstances is all made possible by the efficient and safe operation of different aerial lifts. Check out this blog today and learn more about all the great jobs aerial lifts can accomplish!


This post was originally published in 2016 and was updated in 2018 to be more comprehensive.

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