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What Are the Different Types of Forklift Models?

By Benjamin Arie
Updated May 23, 2024
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Forklifts are used in a wide variety of business locations, including warehouses and construction sites. Every type of forklift is designed to move heavy objects or containers, but there are many different forklift models that can be categorized based on their power, size and methods of operation. Among the different types of forklift models with electric motors are rider trucks, narrow aisle trucks and hand trucks. Other models include internal combustion engine trucks, electric or internal combustion engine tractors and rough terrain forklift trucks.

Electric motor rider trucks typically are designed for indoor use. They are powered using rechargeable batteries and electric motors. These models have small tires and feature a counterbalance in the rear of the vehicle.

A similar model is the electric motor narrow aisle truck, which is specially designed to operate in the narrow confines of warehouse facilities. This type of forklift has low-profile tires and is used almost exclusively indoors. Many of these models equipped with unique adapters than allow the forks to work at a 90-degree angle to the operator.

Like the first two types of forklift models, electric motor hand trucks are designed for indoor use. This model of forklift typically does not have a seat or steering wheel for a driver. Instead, the operator walks behind the unit and controls the device using a control handle.

Internal combustion engine trucks are powered by fuel such as diesel or propane and have multi-purpose tires. These forklift models are more heavy-duty than electric versions, and they use large counterweights to handle heavy loads. A slightly different model is nearly identical but has pneumatic tires and can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Electric and internal combustion engine tractors are designed to push and pull heavy loads. These models of forklifts have limited lifting ability, however. The electric and internal combustion models of this type are sometimes placed in the same category by certain organizations, such as the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The final type of forklift is a rough terrain forklift truck. As its name implies, a rough terrain truck uses oversize off-road tires to navigate tough outdoor terrain. It is well suited for lifting large objects at construction sites or remote industrial locations.

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