Electric vs. diesel vs. gas – which type of forklift is best suited to your operations?

When it comes to purchasing a forklift truck, you will have many different makes and models to choose from. To narrow down your choice you will need to identify how you want your forklift to be powered. Forklift trucks can be electric, diesel or gas powered. Here we will explain the pros and cons of each to help you decide on the most suitable choice for your operations.

Indoor Forklift

If you want to be able to use a forklift indoors, you will need to either choose an electric or gas powered model.

Electric Forklifts

If you are looking to buy a forklift for indoor use only, then an electric forklift will make the best choice. Electric forklifts are clean, quiet and environmentally friendly. Unlike diesel and gas forklifts they will not make loud, disturbing noises when in operation and they will not emit harmful fumes. Many people also find electric forklifts easier to operate, as they are compact and nimble. Unlike the other two types of forklifts, they do not have a clutch pedal.

Electric forklifts are expensive to buy, but they are low cost to run, as you simply have to recharge the battery overnight. Their maintenance and serving costs are also relatively low as they have less moving parts than gas and diesel forklifts. Find a range of electric forklifts at http://www.hiremech.co.uk/.

Electric forklifts cannot be used outdoors. This is due to the fact wet and damp weather can cause problems with the wiring and electrical components. 

Gas Forklifts

Gas forklifts are powered by LPG or liquefied petroleum gas. They are a popular choice due to their high performance and indoor / outdoor flexibility. Gas forklifts are quieter to operate than diesel forklifts and emit fewer fumes. Whilst you can use them indoors, you should only do so for short periods of time.

Most LPG powered forklift trucks are fairly compact in design today, making them easier to operate both indoors and outside. However it is worth noting that they will not be able to handle as tough terrains as diesel powered forklifts.

Whereas electric forklifts are expensive to buy but cheap to run, gas forklifts are cheap to buy and expensive to run. Out of the three different types they have the highest maintenance and fuel costs. This is something you will need to take into consideration when making your decision.


Gas and diesel forklift trucks can be used outdoors.

Diesel Forklifts

If you are looking for a forklift truck to use outdoors, a diesel forklift will make the best choice. Diesel forklifts are more fuel-efficient than gas forklifts. They also perform better on gradients and have a higher torque, making them suitable for towing. Due to operating at lower ‘revs’ and having a sturdier construction, diesel forklifts tend to outlive gas forklifts and achieve lower servicing and maintenance costs.

On the downside, diesel forklifts emit harmful exhaust fumes, which is why they cannot be used indoors. You may want to invest in an exhaust catalyst or a purifier to reduce toxic emissions. Diesel forklifts are also very noisy to operate.

In terms of costs, diesel forklifts are cheap to buy but expensive to run. They tend to cost more than gas forklifts to power.


When choosing the best type of forklift truck for your operations, it is important to weigh up the pros and cons of each type. Of course your decision will be affected by your budget, but you also need to make sure that the forklift you choose can meet your needs and requirements. For personalised advice, it may be worth seeking the guidance of a professional forklift truck dealer.

Image credits:Blue Square Thing&(Mick Baker) rooster