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Access 101

Boom Lift or Scissor Lift: What Type of MEWP Do You Need?

Blog Posts - May 21

Boom Lift or Scissor Lift: What Type of MEWP Do You Need?

Logan Cunningham
Product Training Specialist
JLG Industries

Accessing overhead or hard-to-reach areas high off the ground is a challenge that many workers have to overcome on construction job sites or maintenance projects.

Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) are specifically designed to aid workers with this type of work, but there are several different types of MEWPs, including boom lifts and scissor lifts, to choose from.

Both boom lifts and scissor lifts can help workers reach elevated areas but have very different capabilities. 

So, how do you know which one is right for your next project? The JLG® Equipment Selector will help guide you through choosing the best machine for your job, and by comparing these two types of MEWPs, you can better understand their different uses. these two types of MEWPs, you can better understand their different uses.

Do you need a boom lift or a scissor lift at a glance

Scissor lifts

A scissor lift is a type of machine that moves vertically and is used to elevate workers to high areas on a job site. Scissor lifts are good for jobs that need to elevate multiple workers, as the size of the platform tends to be much larger than with other types of aerial lifts.

The mechanism in place that enables vertical movement is a linked, folding support in a scissor-like "X" pattern, hence the name. The contraction of the scissor action can be hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical. Depending on the machine’s power system, it may not require power to enter "descent" mode but rather a simple release of hydraulic or pneumatic pressure. This is the main reason that these methods of powering the lifts are preferred, as it allows a fail-safe option of returning the platform to the ground by release of a manual valve.


Boom lifts

A boom lift is a type of aerial lift that supports a hydraulic arm that is capable of maneuvering around obstacles. There are two basic types of boom lifts: Articulating and telescopic. Articulating boom lifts have arms that pivot, making it easier to move the platform around objects. Telescopic boom lifts have straight arms and usually have higher weight capacities but may be more difficult to maneuver to certain locations. 

Boom lifts can extend much higher than scissor lifts. Whereas scissor lifts typically reach heights of 20–50 ft, boom lifts can extend up to 185 ft. Also, because most scissor lifts only move vertically, there is no way to maneuver them up and around obstacles. 


Choosing between these two MEWPs

Boom lifts and scissor lifts both provide access to otherwise inaccessible aerial job sites. With the right equipment, you can efficiently complete the required overhead work. The key to selecting the right lift — boom or scissor — for the job is in understanding what you need to accomplish on job sites. 

To do this, you need to answer two very important questions that will help you understand the elevation, outreach, capacity, ground support/conditions and access to the work that you will need for the project. 

Let’s look at two of the questions:

  • Access to the work: What direction(s) will you need to move? Consider the direction of movement you need to go. 
    a. If you need to elevate to up and over (as well as around), you will need a boom lift. 
    b. If you only need to go straight up, a scissor lift may be the right choice.

  • Elevation: How high do you need to go? Consider the height of the aerial job site. 
    a. Larger scissor lifts in the market today can only elevate workers just over 40 ft. This might not be enough. 
    b. Boom lifts can go much higher (larger models can reach more than 3x as high as a larger scissor lift) and may be a better option if you need to reach greater heights.

When you need to go higher to do more, MEWPs can help you conquer challenging overhead and aerial project work with confidence. Choosing the right type of MEWP equipment — a boom lift or a scissor lift — to complete work at height is essential to being as productive as possible. 

JLG is a leading supplier of MEWPs, including boom lifts and scissor lifts, worldwide. From the latest access lifts to services, parts and technical support, JLG makes sure you have what you need to get the job done. For more information about JLG® aerial equipment, visit here.

Let JLG help you choose the best machine for your next job, click here.

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