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The power in access

What's the difference between cherry pickers and scissor lifts


18 January 2023

If you’re embarking on a job that requires an aerial platform you might be wondering whether to choose a cherry picker or scissor lift, as they both lift personnel and equipment to enable working at height. What is the difference between them? Is one cheaper than the other? Are there any distinct advantages or disadvantages to a cherry picker over a scissor lift?

This blog will aim to answer some of these questions and provide a few pointers to help you choose.


What are Cherry Pickers?

Cherry pickers, or boom lifts, are generally able to have a higher reach than scissor lifts, but one of the biggest differences to a scissor lift in terms of its lifting features, is the fact that cherry pickers have outreach, not just vertical reach. They are better at reaching up and over obstacles so they’re perfect for jobs where you can’t get a lift directly below the area that needs to be accessed by the platform. Cherry pickers are perfect for reaching the most awkward spaces, sometimes even seemingly unreachable areas, as their up-and-over reach enables them to be quickly and easily manoeuvred into position for a plethora of tricky jobs.

Cherry pickers with reach that is more vertical are referred to as telescopic booms as the lift extends up and out like a telescope, whereas those that are needed for a definite up and over reach are often articulated lifts.

Whilst cherry pickers need relatively stable ground to operate from, many have outriggers in order to create a solid base to extend safely upwards. Diesel-powered cherry pickers are more ideally suited to the rugged terrain of construction sites. However, they can just as easily and usefully be applied to indoor jobs which require the reach of heady heights. For example the roof space of exhibition centres or cathedrals as depending on the model, some can reach astonishing heights of up to 48 m.

Main advantages of cherry pickers

  • Versatility: one of the most versatile of all access platforms, cherry pickers have enormous versatility in the areas they are able to access, up and over as well as huge heights.
  • Comfort and safety: with a high-railed and more enclosed basket, the operator is kept safely inside the basket in spite of the huge heights that it rises to.
  • Height: as it can rise to a massive 48 m – if your application or project requires an engineer at an impressive height, then a cherry picker is the platform for the task.
  • Efficiency: There is no wasting time or energy trying to reach a difficult spot, these lifts are easy to manoeuvre into position, enabling the work to be quickly undertaken.


What are Scissor Lifts?

Although seemingly having less flexibility than cherry pickers, scissor lifts are not to be overlooked.  Scissor lifts have a simpler structure and operating system and are great for reaching vertical spaces, especially for indoor jobs, such as within commercial units, factories and between warehouse racking systems.

Scissor lifts need a steadier, level ground area to give a solid base for the lift to extend safely upwards from. Most scissor lifts have an extendible platform which can allow for several engineers to work at height safely simultaneously, which is perfect for installation or decoration projects. They also allow for personnel and equipment to be manoeuvred around whilst at height as they are relatively stable machines.

Similar to the cherry pickers, scissor lifts can be operated outdoors as well as indoors, and the diesel powered versions are often more ruggedly constructed allowing them to handle rougher terrains more easily. Depending on the model, scissor lifts can reach an impressive 22 m.

Main advantages of scissor lifts

  • Uncomplicated to manoeuvre: with a simpler control system, these lifts are easy to raise and lower, as well as move around your site.
  • Cost effective: often cheaper to purchase, rental and run than their cherry picker alternatives, and with less complicated machinery to maintain.
  • Customisable: Scissor lifts are more adaptable as you can add turntables or tilting devices to make the lift more effective for your purposes and operable on more unstable surfaces.
  • Easy to maintain: Being less complicated in construction and functionality than the cherry picker, it is easier to maintain and keep in working order.


Which is the best machine for my job?

Having examined what cherry pickers and scissor lifts have in common as well as their differences, it becomes clear that the right type of lift for your task, depends entirely on the job at hand.

If your project needs simple vertical lifting of personnel or equipment for the completion of a task which would be difficult on a ladder or scaffolding tower, then the scissor lift is the obvious choice. Thanks to its simple operating system and stable base, and especially if the job is an indoor one, the scissor lift is perfect. However, if your task is at a greater height, or in a particularly difficult to access spot, then the cherry picker is the best choice.

If you’re still unsure about the right machine, or what size you might need, GTAccess has an online machine advisory service which works out, with a few simple questions, which is the ideal machine for your task.

Alternatively, get in touch to chat to one of our experts at any one of our 11 depots across the country for advice.