The Difference Between Scissor Lifts and Boom Lifts

Read this blog to find out more about them individually and how to decide which is more suited to your needs.


What is the difference between scissor lifts and boom lifts?

A common question asked by our customers is: what’s the difference between scissor lifts and boom lifts? Whilst both help you reach new heights, there are differences you should consider before deciding which one to hire. Here is a short, handy guide we’ve put together to help you find the right lift:

Both scissor and boom lifts (also known as cherry pickers) are types of powered access equipment that assist in maneuvering large-scale items onto platforms, allowing you to reach places on your project you couldn’t before

So, what’s the difference? First up are Scissor lifts, machines that are made up of the following components: the scissor mechanism or ‘scissor legs’ -that allows it to extend and retract up and down, a base with wheels so it can be driven around, and finally, a platform for the items to be placed on and somewhere for the individual to stand.

Similarly, a boom lift or ‘cherry picker’ provides height access, but also has the bonus feature of outreach. This means that rather than going straight up like a scissor lift, it can go up and over, providing further mobility and motion. This is thanks to its hydraulic-powered arm, allowing it to swing around and sometimes, depending on the model and type, bend.

Due to the difference in functionality, it can often be straightforward to decide between the two. However, if you’re still unsure, here are the main factors  to consider before making your choice:

Scissor Lift Electric, 5.8m / 19ft platform height

When do I need a scissor lift?

  • When access to the work area is easy.

A scissor lift requires a flat, level surface to be situated on for safety purposes. An extremely rough terrain would not work. Also the site must be clear, as a scissor lift has no outreach so must be able to extend up to the platform required.

  • Projects that require an individual to go up with the items

The raising platform allows space for someone to ride up with items that are being lifted. If items need to be manually placed onto higher platforms, then the lift allows for them to be there at the top too.

Boom lifts

When do I need a boom lift?

  • If extra mobility is required

As mentioned, boom lifts offer an ‘up and over’ motion that scissor lifts do not. Therefore, if you have a site without suitable ground, the lift can be placed further away and used to reach the site needed.

  • Higher heights are required.

Although scissor lifts come in a variety of sizes, often they are used for smaller (usually indoor) needs, whereas a boom lift can extend to greater heights.

Here at AWS Nationwide, we are fortunate enough to provide our customers with both options. Choosing equipment can be quite overwhelming, but with our team of experts, our aim is to help direct you to what is best.

With guaranteed equipment availability, our wide range of almost 20 types arrives in a variety of different heights. Training is also available for your equipment, giving you peace of mind that you are getting the most out of your hire with us.

To find out more and see which powered access lift would fit your project needs the most, see our website at