How to choose a forklift truck

Finding the perfect forklift for your business is not always easy. Knowing what you need, and why, is important.

Whatever your operational needs, Cesab is here to help.

That's why we’ve created a simple product filtering tool that will help you select forklifts that fit your specific operational needs.

Just select a few answers from the fill-in fields to find the best equipment for you!

Nonetheless, here are seven criteria that will help you to choose the perfect forklift that can meet your operational needs:

Working environment

Will the forklift be working indoors, outdoors or both?


Restrictions in most countries mean that Diesel trucks can only be used outside.

LPG is often used outdoors, as it is limited for indoor use in many regions. Where LPG is used inside, the site must be well ventilated (Please check if local authorities permit indoor use).

Counterbalanced forklift trucks are usually recommended outdoors, often in a four-wheel configuration as this will be more comfortable for the driver and therefore increase productivity. 


If you are looking at indoor applications, electric or manual forklift trucks are often the best option.

Warehouse equipment such as reach trucks, pallet trucks and stackers are intended for indoor work, and are not usually recommended for outdoor use due to their wheel type and limited ground clearance. 

Mixed use

For a mix of indoor and outdoor use, three and four-wheel electric counterbalanced trucks are likely to be the best option.

Always keep the size of the working area in mind. Stand-on trucks are more suitable for narrow working areas. If you have plenty of room, consider an electric or IC (internal combustion) truck.

electric cesab p113 charging

Power source

The choices of forklift power source are manual, electric, Diesel or LPG.

Which of these is best will depend on where your forklift trucks are used, the distances they need to travel, the intensity of use, the working environment and the loads they will carry. 

For short distances transporting low weights and for occasional use, a manual forklift will often be best. For heavier work, indoors and out, an 80-volt electric or IC truck would be the answer.

Intensity of use 

Will truck use be low, average or high?

The intensity of use will help to decide whether forklift trucks should be manual, electric or internal combustion (IC), and will also decide what level of performance you need. 

For low intensity use, manual and small pedestrian electric trucks are often suitable. In average use situations, light to medium electric trucks will do. For heavy use applications, the best solution is an 80-volt electric or IC truck.


In operational terms, you have a choice of manual, seated or stand-on forklift trucks.
Which of these you need will depend on the intensity of use, space to manoeuvre and drive distance.

If the forklift will be handling light weights and used occasionally, then a manual / pedestrian option will be fine.

For average drive distances and areas with limited space, a stand-on truck would usually be best.

If you are dealing with longer distances in locations where there is more space to manoeuvre, a three or four-wheel electric or IC truck would be the answer. The IC option would be acceptable only where there is enough ventilation, or if the truck is being used outdoors.

Also think about how often the truck operator needs to leave the vehicle. If the driver leaves the vehicle often, a stand-on truck will be more practical and ergonomic. If the operator needs to exit an electric forklift truck 50 times a day, the constant entering and exiting will put a strain on ligaments, joints and muscles. 

cesab p320 in application

Driving distance 

Knowing how far each forklift truck will need to travel each day is important:

  • For short distances, consider a pedestrian pallet truck or stacker.
  • For medium distances, a stand-on truck or one with a foldable platform that can do both could be best.
  • For long distances, you will need sit down models that can cover ground more quickly and are designed for this use.

Maximum lift height

It’s essential to know the heights in all areas that the forklifts will be operating, including any doorways, entrance areas or storage spaces where they need to be used.

You also need to consider the heights that you need trucks to reach to. This will determine whether horizontal transport, a pedestrian or stand-on pallet truck is best. If lift heights are up to three or four metres and the usage intensity is limited, a stacker would be fine.

For greater heights, a counterbalanced truck or reach truck would be best, depending on the aisle widths available and whether it is working indoors or out. For applications over six or seven metres, you will need a reach truck.

Load weight

For no-lift, short distance operations where loads will always be below 1000kg, a hand pallet truck is likely to be recommended.

For lifting, longer distance or higher load bearing requirements, you will need to look at motorised models. For heavier loads, a higher performance truck will be needed.