A Comparison of Top Aerial Lift Models

Articulating Boom Lift

Aerial lifts provide the ability to move materials easier in warehouse settings or on work sites. They lift up, out and over to access hard-to-reach places safely and easily. Their unique design increases productivity through more mobility and flexibility than other traditional material handling equipment.

In this article, we'll compare top brands such as JLG, Niftylift and Skyjack for the following aerial lift types:

Metrics to consider

Aerial lifts come in many different models. When looking for the right one to fit your needs, consider some of these factors:

Spider Lift


Scissor Lift

  • Working height. Working height is how high the aerial lift can safely raise and move the forks, booms or baskets. The starting point for choosing a lift is to know how high you need to go.
  • Horizontal reach. The next factor is horizontal reach, or the furthest point of accessibility once you are at working height. Different lifts provide varying reaches depending on what materials you are moving or if it is a man-lift.
  • Weight capacity. Finally, how much weight are you going to lift and move at any one time at working height and the furthest points of horizontal reach? This is the lift’s weight capacity and you need to be sure that you can operate within its range.
  • Engine type. Aerial lifts utilize electric, diesel and hybrid motors. If operating indoors, electric motors are quieter with fewer emissions. Diesel engines are noisier and produce emissions but are more powerful for job sites and heavier lifts.
  • Rough terrain. Are you going to be operating on uneven surfaces and in different weather outdoors? If the answer is yes, search for a rough terrain lift. They are manufactured to work well in tough conditions.
  • Uses. Aerial lifts can be used in industries such as manufacturing and warehousing, construction, utilities, farm work, emergency rescue and agriculture.
  • Pricing. The higher you need to go with increasing weight, the greater the price will be for the ability to do so. Aerial lifts run in price from $5,000 to $80,000, depending on the factors above.
  • Training. If you buy new, many manufacturers will provide training for your employees, whether it is one-on-one or a “train the trainer” offering where they train one person on your staff to go back and train everyone else.

Model comparisons

Each aerial lift manufacturer has its unique strengths in their models. It's essential to first determine what type of aerial lift you need and then evaluate their characteristics. Looking more closely at each can give you an advantage in either optimal use or cost.

Articulating Boom Lift

An articulating boom lift offers flexibility in both height and reach. It has the ability to extend the boom to great heights. Once up, the boom also maneuvers from side to side. Some are jointed to provide "up and over" capability.

Articulating Boom LiftsGenieJLGSkyjackNiftylift
Model NumberZTM-60/341250AJPSJ63 AJSP26
Working Height66 ft. 4 in.125 ft.69 ft. 7 in.33 ft.
Horizontal Reach36 ft. 3 in.63 ft. 2 in. 40 ft.15 ft.
Weight Capacity500 lbs.1000 lbs.500 lbs.500 lbs.
Rough TerrainYesYesYesNo
Engine TypeFuelDieselDieselAll
Pricing$91,000 - $100,000$180,000 - $210,000$110,000 - $150,000$22,500 -$40,000
TrainingOperatorOperatorOperatorOperator

Spider Lifts

A spider lift has four "legs" that provide stability for the machine when in use. Its compact stature requires a small space to maneuver in but has a large working range. It can fit through narrow access routes over rough terrain due to its tank-lift rubber track.

Spider LiftsGenieJLGNiftylift
Model NumberTZ-34/20X550AJTD42T
Working Height40 ft.55 ft.48 ft. 6 in.
Horizontal Reach18 ft.21 ft.25 ft.
Weight Capacity200 lbs.440 lbs.500 lbs.
Rough TerrainYesYesYes
Engine TypeElectricElectric, DieselDiesel
Pricing$15,000 - $30,000$95,000 - $115,000$42,000 - $59,000
TrainingOperatorOperatorOperator
Scissor Lift

A scissor lift is portable with a hydraulic-powered lift. Its platform is raised up directly over the base and does not move from side to side. It gets its name from the links that crisscross and fold as it is extended or lowered.

Scissor LiftsGenieJLGSkyjackNiftylift
Model NumberGS-20464394RTSJ4632 DR45
Working Height26 ft.43 ft.38 ft. 6 in.49 ft. 6 in.
Horizontal ReachN/AN/AN/A29 ft. 6 in.
Weight Capacity1,200 lbs.1,500 lbs.700 lbs.500 lbs.
Rough TerrainNoYesNoYes
Engine TypeElectricDieselElectricDiesel
Pricing$12,000 - $30,000$30,000 - $40,000$15,000 - $30,000$47,000 - $69,000
TrainingOperatorOperatorOperatorOperator

Choosing a brand

When height, lift, reach, and price are all equal and you are still struggling to decide on which lift to purchase, feedback from other users or industry experts can point you in the right direction.

Reviews. Take the time to read through reviews on different websites. Pay close attention to comments about durability, how easy it is to service, and how it maneuvers. Each model will operate a bit differently; there may be comments from experienced users about which model’s controls they prefer. Small details like that can increase your satisfaction with your purchase tenfold.

Awards and recognition. Every company is going to claim to be the best at something. Look for third-party validation of those claims in the form of awards by industry leaders, environmental groups or government provided stamps of approval.

Help and support centers. One of the biggest benefits of a lift is increased productivity. That should not be negated by significant down time while you are waiting for service or repair. Look for 24/7/365 support in the form of a call center, online chat or a wide network of dealers that are fairly close to your work sites.

Training and maintenance agreements. It is worth the time up front to ensure your personnel are trained on new equipment. It keeps them safe and reduces risk for everyone. Look for a manufacturer that takes it as seriously as you do. Ask about maintenance agreements as well. Keeping up regular service will extend the life of your machine.

BrandGenieJLGSkyjackNiftylift
BBB RatingAA+AA
Most Recent Award2004 Renter Equipment Register Innovative Product Award2014 Solution Fest Best Mobile Solution Award2012 United Rentals Supplier of The Year2013 The Queen's Award for Enterprise - Innovation
Help & SupportOnline training meets ANSI/ITSDF, CA and OSHA requirementsJLG University training: in-person and online, with or without an instructorFive year warranty. Releases safety bulletins to customers as necessary. Offers 2 levels of in-person training over the course of 1 - 2 days, depending on number of machine categories

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