To answer the question “how much does a forklift cost?” is not one simple number, because pricing greatly depending on several factors, including the type of forklift, its capacity, the brand, and additional features. Let’s break down the various costs associated with purchasing a forklift in the U.S.
Types of Forklifts and Their Costs
Electric forklifts are powered by large, heavy batteries. They are suitable for indoor operations due to their zero-emissions, making them environmentally friendly. They are generally quieter than their internal combustion counterparts.
- Cost: Electric forklifts usually start around $20,000 for smaller models but can go up to $45,000 or more for larger models with higher capacities.
Internal Combustion Forklifts
These are powered by either gasoline, diesel, or propane and are commonly used in outdoor operations.
- Cost: Prices for internal combustion forklifts start around $15,000 for basic models, with high-capacity models reaching up to $100,000.
Rough Terrain Forklifts
Designed for construction sites and lumber yards, rough terrain forklifts have large, tractor-like tires.
- Cost: The cost for these typically starts at $50,000 and can exceed $100,000 for advanced models.
These are essentially extended reach forklifts, perfect for high reach areas, especially in construction sites.
- Cost: Telehandlers can start around $50,000 and range up to $150,000 for larger, high-capacity models.
Although technically not forklifts, pallet jacks perform a similar function for much lighter loads.
- Cost: Manual pallet jacks can be purchased for a few hundred dollars, while electric models might cost $3,000 or more.
Factors Affecting Forklift Costs
Here are the factors that affect a forklift’s cost:
A significant price determinant is the machine’s lifting capacity. A standard forklift can usually lift weights between 3,000 to 5,000 pounds. However, forklifts designed to lift up to 35,000 pounds or more will naturally come with a heftier price tag.
Like any other machinery, the brand plays a pivotal role in determining the cost. Premium brands like CAT, Crown, or Toyota tend to be on the higher end of the price spectrum.
Features such as side shifters, tilt controls, and camera systems can add to the overall cost. The type of tire (cushion or pneumatic) can also influence the price.
New vs. Used
A used forklift can be an attractive option for budget-conscious businesses. Depending on age, hours of operation, and condition, used forklifts can save a significant amount compared to new models.
Beyond the purchase price, it’s essential to consider ongoing operational costs:
- Maintenance: Regular maintenance ensures longevity and safety. Depending on the type and usage, expect to spend a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars annually on maintenance.
- Fuel/Charging: Electric forklifts require charging stations, which have associated electricity costs. Internal combustion forklifts will have fuel expenses which can vary based on fuel type and usage.
- Training: OSHA requires operators to be certified, which can cost between $100 to $200 per operator.
Leasing vs. Buying
Many businesses opt to lease forklifts, especially if they only need them for a short period. Leasing can cost anywhere from $600 per month for smaller models to a few thousand dollars monthly for larger, more specialized machines.