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Slab or Rough Terrain Scissor Lift? Choosing One Based on Maintenance & More

Slab or Rough Terrain Scissor Lift? Choosing One Based on Maintenance & More

A Genie GS-2632 scissor lift sitting along a curb in front of grass

Slab or Rough Terrain Scissor Lift? Choosing One Based on Maintenance & More

Reading time: 5 min

When it comes to accessing elevated workspaces, scissor lifts have become the go-to solution in a number of industries. Unlike boom lifts, which extend in a linear pattern, scissor lifts are equipped with a crisscross framework that elevates the work platform.

A scissor lift’s design offers stability and also supports a larger platform, making it the ideal solution for tasks that require space for workers and their tools.

It’s hard to discuss the history of scissor lifts without discussing Genie, a renowned scissor lift manufacturer in the space. Since its inception in 1966, Genie has carved a niche in the aerial lift market, gaining a reputation for safe, efficient and reliable designs.

Today, scissor lifts come in several formats which can be broadly categorized into two types–slab scissor lifts and rough terrain scissor lifts. 

Slab scissor lifts, which are designed for smooth surfaces like concrete, offer excellent maneuverability and are frequently used in facility maintenance and warehouses. Rough terrain scissor lifts, on the other hand, are specially designed for outdoor applications such as construction on rough or uneven terrain.

In order to choose the best scissor lift for your project, it’s critical to understand the similarities and differences between them, as well as their varying maintenance requirements. In this guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about slab scissor lifts and rough terrain scissor lifts, helping you reach the best decision for your team.

Usage Differences Between Rough Terrain and Slab Scissor Lifts

Slab scissor lifts typically feature a compact design and exceptional maneuverability, making them ideal for indoor applications and use on solid, flat surfaces. These lifts have a lower profile, allowing them to navigate through narrow corridors, doorways and tight spaces within buildings. 

In contrast, rough terrain scissor lifts are engineered for outdoor work where uneven and rugged surfaces are common. These lifts are characterized by their sturdy construction, larger pneumatic tires and four-wheel drive capabilities, allowing them to navigate across uneven ground. 

Physical and Operational Differences

The physical and operational differences between slab and rough terrain scissor lifts are related to differences in their respective environments. 

Slab scissor lifts are usually smaller, with a compact, streamlined design that facilitates easy navigation in tight spaces. They often feature electric motors, which are quieter and don’t produce emissions, making them ideal for indoor use. 

In terms of operation, slab lifts have lower weight capacities and a smaller platform area, as their primary function is to work in tight spaces where heavy lifting is not the priority.

On the other hand, rough terrain scissor lifts are built with a durable, heavy-duty design. They are equipped with larger, pneumatic tires, often with extra features like four-wheel drive to handle uneven terrains. These lifts usually run on diesel or dual fuel, providing the necessary power and endurance for outdoor tasks. 

Typically, rough terrain scissor lifts feature higher lifting capacities, a larger platform size and extended reach capabilities to accommodate the demands of outdoor work, such as construction.

A Genie GS-2632 scissor lift raised in the air with a service technician watching from below

Indoor Projects

For indoor projects, slab scissor lifts have several advantages along with some limitations. Their compact design and non-marking tires make them ideal for maneuvering in tight spaces, like the insides of warehouses, without damaging flooring. They are electric-powered and feature quiet, fume-free operation. 

However, their limitations include a lower lift capacity and smaller platform size, which may not work well for tasks requiring heavy lifting or extensive space.

Common indoor project tasks handled by slab scissor lifts include:
  • Ceiling and overhead installations or repairs
  • Electrical and lighting work
  • HVAC maintenance
  • Painting and decorating
  • Inventory stocking and warehouse management
  • Window cleaning and maintenance
A Genie GS-4390 scissor lift sitting on the top of a trailer with a service technician next to it.

Outdoor Projects

For outdoor projects, rough terrain scissor lifts offer numerous advantages, alongside certain limitations. The larger tires and four-wheel drive capabilities enable stable, secure movement over bumps and dips. 

Additionally, their higher lift capacity and larger platform size are advantageous for projects requiring the transportation of multiple workers and heavy equipment to elevated areas. 

However, limitations include their larger size and weight, which may restrict access in tight areas. They also have louder, emissions-producing engines, which makes them less suitable for sensitive areas or noise-restricted job sites.

Common outdoor project tasks handled by rough terrain scissor lifts include:
  • Construction and exterior building work
  • Outdoor electrical and lighting installations
  • Landscaping tasks
  • Maintenance and repairs of exterior structures
  • Outdoor signage and billboard installations
  • Infrastructure projects

Maintenance Requirements for Scissor Lifts

The maintenance requirements of scissor lifts vary between slab and rough terrain models due to their design. Slab scissor lifts, which are usually electric-powered, require regular battery maintenance, including charging and water level checks. 

On the other hand, rough terrain scissor lifts require more in-depth maintenance due to their exposure to harsher outdoor conditions and more complex design. This includes things like frequent checks and cleaning of their larger, pneumatic tires, diesel engine maintenance and inspections of their hydraulic components.

Cost Comparison

In terms of cost, rough terrain scissor lifts usually have higher upfront costs compared to slab scissor lifts, primarily due to their larger size and advanced features. Slab scissor lifts, which are smaller and primarily electric-powered for indoor use, are typically more affordable. 

Over time, the maintenance costs also diverge. Slab scissor lifts usually incur lower maintenance expenses, with a primary focus on battery care and basic mechanical upkeep. 

In contrast, rough terrain lifts often have higher long-term maintenance costs, due to their exposure to outdoor conditions. They also require frequent servicing of their diesel engines, hydraulic systems and rugged tires.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the choice between slab and rough terrain scissor lifts requires a consideration of their respective pros and cons. Slab scissor lifts excel in indoor environments or on smooth surfaces, offering quieter, emission-free operation and ease of maneuverability.

Rough terrain scissor lifts, on the other hand, are tailored for outdoor challenges, boasting higher lifting capacities, durability and all-terrain mobility. But they come with higher upfront and maintenance costs.

The EquipmentShare Shop carries a wide range of replacement parts for Genie scissor lifts, both slab and rough terrain. Our online catalog also includes scissor lift parts from other top manufacturers, so you can be sure to get what you need quickly. Don’t see exactly what you’re looking for? Reach out to our dedicated parts experts and get personalized assistance.

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