Electric or Hybrid vs. Engine-Powered Boom Lifts: Which One is Best?

Electric or Hybrid vs. Engine-Powered Boom Lifts: Which One is Best?

Nate Hoover, Director of Product Management, Boom Category

Boom lifts, or cherry pickers, give you the reach necessary to complete difficult indoor and outdoor tasks safely at height—even extreme height. But how do you choose between electric, hybrid and engine powered? Which one is right for you?

Choosing between electric, hybrid and engine-powered boom lifts depends on where you work, when you work, and the knowledge and availability of service personnel.

Engine-Powered Boom Lifts

Engine-powered boom lifts give you the reach and power for unparalleled outdoor performance. 

JLG offers two types of engine-powered boom lifts:

  • Articulating models have a versatile jib to take you up and over obstacles for precise positioning.
  • Telescopic models provide faster ascent and extended reach—with a platform height of up to 185’—so you can maximize productivity by reaching full height quicker.

JLG diesel engine-powered machines navigate rough terrain and steeper grades with ease—four-wheel drive machines can handle 45 to 51 percent gradeability. They also offer industry-leading capacity and larger work envelope to conquer your worksite challenges. 

Electric Boom Lifts

Electric boom lifts help complete jobs with virtually no noise or odor and zero emissions, making them ideal for indoor applications. Their quiet operation also makes electric booms well suited for after-hours work, indoors or outdoors, including densely packed urban environments where noise may be disruptive to residents. 

Many electric boom lifts also offer non-marking tires or non-marking rubber tracks, keeping flooring, sidewalks and landscaping intact.

As an example, JLG offers four unique types of electric boom lifts:

  • Articulating boom lifts: Efficient and versatile, these machines allow you to reach up to 45’. Choose from several series to find the right fit for every situation, from rough job sites to narrow, congested indoor areas.
  • Telescopic boom lifts: Ideal for tackling many angles in challenging indoor and outdoor spaces, telescopic boom lifts offer a standard or horizontal pivot jib and a reach of more than 60’. Models with non-marking tires are available, ensuring minimal impact in indoor spaces.
  • Compact crawler booms: Great for atriums or areas with sensitive flooring or landscaping, these lightweight, compact, self-leveling, non-marking rubber track-mounted booms produce zero emissions. Although they easily fit through double doors, our compact crawler booms have a reach of up to 106’. Common uses include painting, light construction, window cleaning and maintenance.
  • Toucan mast boom lifts: Offering narrow, efficient design, 32’ reach and non-marking tires, these lifts can fit through standard doorways to navigate tight indoor spaces, like warehouse aisles.  

Lithium-ion batteries are available on select JLG electric and hybrid machines, providing high energy density, low maintenance and maximum longevity.

Hybrid Boom Lifts

Hybrid boom lifts can get you where you need to go, and then provide an electric solution for more sustainable—and less intrusive—operation. JLG offers hybrid articulating boom lifts, hybrid telescopic boom lifts and hybrid compact crawler booms. 

These machines have the unique ability to support a project from start to finish—or rough terrain to finished floors. The use of one machine for all work provides a more economical and efficient solution for the rental company and the end user. 

The company's hybrid articulating and telescopic boom lifts run on a battery with electric drive system, coupled with a diesel generator. Users experience zero emissions when running in electric-only mode and low emissions when the diesel generator is running to charge the battery. 

In indoor applications, a user can disable the engine with a switch for emissions-free, low-noise operation. The charger on a JLG hybrid machine can also plug into an external source of electrical power to charge the batteries without running the engine. 

As a bonus, hybrid and electric boom lifts may help companies earn carbon credits, meet green building requirements set by municipalities, and achieve their corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. 

Service Considerations

Still not sure whether to go engine powered, electric or hybrid?  Consider the capacity and skill of your service personnel. Some electric models (such as JLG’s) are specifically designed for fewer scheduled services and less preventative maintenance. 

However, servicing and repairing high-voltage electric or hybrid machines requires advanced training, even if maintenance is less frequent.

Boom Lift Evolution

As technology advances and new power solutions become available, JLG’s electric and hybrid solutions will continue to evolve.


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