Forklift Power Sources

Forklifts are powered by 3 main sources of fuel – diesel, gas (LPG) and batteries. Below is a rough guide to each type of power source and their most suitable usage along with the various advantages and disadvantages of each.


Without a doubt, the ideal forklift for outdoor usage. Diesel forklifts are the cheapest to run fuel wise (a tank of red diesel will last longer than an LPG cylinder). The engines will also have the longest life as they are made from sturdy components and operate at lower revs compared to gas engines.
Best for outdoor use
Lower purchase cost
Quick and easy to refuel
Better acceleration and lift speeds
High load capacities
Noisy in operation
Higher fuel costs
Not suitable for indoor use
Need more space to operate in
Give off exhaust fumes and emissions

Gas (LPG)

The most versatile type of forklift due to their suitability to work both indoors and outdoors. They are quieter and give off less offensive fumes than diesel forklifts. The engines of these forklifts are usually modified car engines, so parts are readily available at competitive prices.


Can be used both inside and outside
High load capacities
Quick and easy to refuel
Affordable to purchase
Better power to weight ratio
Highest fuel costs
Not for continuous indoor use
High maintenance costs
Give off emissions
Need to store gas bottles


Generally the most suitable type of forklift for indoor use and occasional outdoor use. They don’t give off any harmful emissions and are fume free. Although they are the most expensive to purchase, they are the easiest to operate, the cheapest to run and easier to maintain than engine powered forklifts.
Quiet in operation
No fumes or harmful emissions
No fuel storage required
Low running costs
Generally easier to operate
More expensive to purchase
Needs a smooth, flat surface
Batteries are expensive to replace
Not suitable for prolonged outdoor usage
Cannot be used while charging