Can an electric forklift be used outdoors?

Outdoor electric front forklift truck

Traditionally, when we think of electric counterbalance trucks we think indoors; whereas for demanding outdoor applications, IC trucks (diesel or LPG gas) spring to mind. But is it possible to use electric trucks in outdoor applications?

Electric and IC counterbalance forklift trucks: two different functions for two types of use!

IC forklift trucks are powered by diesel or LPG, so they are mostly used outdoors, especially for diesel forklifts. This is because their CO2 emissions and noise restrict indoor usage. This is essentially to protect the health of employees and reduce the arduousness of their work.

Electric forklifts on the other hand, are traditionally used indoors. Their electric motor allows them to work silently on clean and even floors. However, they are fully equipped to work in mixed applications (i.e. both indoors and outdoors) unlike their IC counterparts.

Electric trolley for heavy outdoor use

Here are some common misconceptions when it comes to Electric forkift trucks.

"Electric forklifts are less efficient than outdoor IC forklift trucks."

To see this, simply watch the below video comparing STILL's electric counterbalance forklift (the RX 60) with several IC forklifts of different makes and the same capacity. The RX 60 is not only their equivalent in terms of power... it even surpasses them in terms of performance!

An independent test, breaking the performance barrier - STILL's RX 60-25

"Electric forklift trucks can be equipped for outdoor use with a cabin and necessary lighting."

Electric counterbalance forklifts can be equipped (like the IC machines) with all the options necessary to work outdoors in all weather conditions with a closed cab, heating, air conditioning, flashing lights, work lights. The possibilities are endless. Whether it's raining, snowing or windy and even in the hot summer months, electric forklifts can work outdoors with maximum operator comfort and productivity.

"Electric counterbalance trucks meet the highest demands for safety and comfort outdoors."

No vibrations, no noise (electric motor means silent operation), no gas released into the atmosphere (unlike diesel and LPG) and what's more, with li-ion batteries, no gas is released at the end of the charge and no charging room is required.

As a result, it’s clear that electric counterbalance forklift trucks are now fully suitable for outdoor work. But what options should you choose to be sure you are making the right choice?

The options to choose when using an electric counterbalance outdoors…

  • For wheel equipment, choose SST (solid soft tyres) which are suitable for outdoor work on more uneven ground than indoors. These tyres dampen better, reduce vibrations and improve the truck's stability. Also, it is worth considering the load shock absorber as an option.
  • When it comes to the cab, it is of course essential to choose a closed cab to protect the driver in bad weather.
  • If you want to remain productive until the end of the day or during the night, your forklift truck must be equipped with working lights.
  • Another important option to make your forklift visible in a noisier and more crowded environment is flashing lights (e.g. STILL Blue Safety Lights) to signal the presence of the truck in operation to other workers and operators.
  • Finally, if your truck has to operate on a road exposed to traffic then it must be equipped with the lighting required by the relevant highway code.

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