The Difference Between Forklifts & Telehandlers

The Difference Between Forklifts & Telehandlers

Telehandlers and forklifts have a few key similarities. They’re the go-to solution for lifting, transporting and precisely placing loads on your site.


Despite being in the same class of plant machinery, that’s where most of the similarities end, as each machine is useful for different jobs. If you’re looking for a breakdown of how they function compared to each other, you’ve come to the right place.



How Forklifts Operate


To the uninitiated, forklifts are the more instantly recognisable machine. They consist of a driver’s cab with the mast and carriage on the front, at the end of which sits the fork. There’s a counterweight at the back to stop the machine from tipping forward when carrying heavy loads.


The key differentiator is that forklifts can only lift loads up and down; they’re great for picking up loads directly in front of the machine and dropping them off in a similar fashion. To find out more, see our guide on everything you need to know about forklift hire.


How Telehandlers Differ from Forklifts


Telehandlers, on the other hand, are a little more complicated. Like forklifts, they can lift and relocate loads, but because they also operate on a horizontal axis, they can lift objects up and away from the cab. This is perfect for accessing hard-to-reach drop zones on a site.


What enables telehandlers to do this? Well, a couple things. Firstly, the forks sit on the end of a long arm called the boom, which extends outwards and can reach much greater heights than a forklift can. Secondly, they’re much larger in size, so are typically sturdier than forklifts (but less mobile as a result).


Telehandlers also aren’t confined to just using a forked attachment; you can swap it out for a bucket or hook to further add to its versatility. You can check out our Ultimate Guide to Telehandler Hire for more information.


What Jobs Can Each Machine Do?


While forklifts are the go-to option in tight areas or for jobs that don’t require precise manoeuvring, telehandlers are better when they have more room to operate in. For example, forklifts are great in warehouse environments, while telehandlers are better suited to large outdoor sites with more challenging loads to transport.


In short, the machine you need will depend on the job at hand. Knowing your height restrictions, as well as the materials that need to be moved and how you plan to move them, is important before beginning the hire process.




Powering Forklifts & Telehandlers


Another key difference between each vehicle is how they’re fuelled. Forklifts have a more diverse array of options – there are models that operate on electric power, gas and diesel depending on your needs.


Telehandlers are currently only operated by diesel, so keeping a handy supply of fuel on-site is crucial when hiring one.


Do I Need a Licence to Drive a Forklift or Telehandler?


By law, a licence for a forklift isn’t required unless you plan to drive it on a public road. Operating one effectively still requires training, though, and drivers must be at least 17 years old in the UK, but they’re easier to become qualified to drive because of this.


Telehandlers, meanwhile, require a licence to operate, so you’ll need to hire an operator if you don’t have one on your team already.


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Kickstart Your Forklift or Telehandler Hire with Tiger Plant

Hopefully, this article has given you a greater understanding of the core differences between telehandlers and forklifts.

If you have any questions – such as advice on which you’ll need based on the demands of your site – don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our friendly and knowledgeable team will do their best to answer all your questions ahead of sending you a quote.


To find out more, check out our forklifts and telehandlers for hire here, or read up more about the different sizes of telehandlers available for your job.

  • Tiger Plant Hire 2021
  • Company No: 10469579