Your Next Forklift
Diesel or Propane?


When purchasing a forklift choosing the correct fuel power type is as important as choosing the make and the lifting capacity. How your lift truck is powered may determine it’s usage and offer the different needs and requirements for your business. So if you’re looking at diesel or propane/gasoline, what are the differences?

What Is Your Fuel Availability?

If you already have diesel fuel handling capabilities your decision may be that much easier to make.  These facilities should follow all building and local safety codes. This could be expensive if you aren’t already set up.

Another consideration is the comparison of diesel prices versus that of propane or electricity.  This actually will likely become the most significant cost during the life of the piece of equipment.

LPG Cylinder Storage Container

Propane, on the other hand, has relatively simple fuel storage, so propane forklifts simply need to have fuel cylinders swapped out. All  that is required is correct storage containers to be in compliance with safety codes. All that is required is keeping an appropriate number of cylinders for your lift truck demands.  

Propane prices tend to be higher than diesel, so you have to factor that into your operating costs.

Outoors or Indoors?

Much depends on whether you’ll be using the forklift indoors or outdoors, or a combination of the both. There are generally two major concerns – the terrain you’ll be taking the forklift, and the air quality of your work environment.

Diesel fuel generally can’t be used for forklifts operating only indoors however newer models have made many improvements with air quality compared to older models.  

Running diesel engines in an enclosed space can quickly fill the area with particulate matter and gases creating lower than acceptable levels of air quality.  

Diesel forklifts mainly are used outdoors with only a limited amount of time in well-ventilated indoor applications. With properly maintained forklifts, the propane usually burns much cleaner than diesel and can easily be used either indoors or outside.

Diesel powered forklifts provide more torque and more overall power for performing heavy-duty jobs. That said however if you need to take a forklift over rougher terrain, lift heavier weights, or need a lift truck that can travel relatively far, diesel will likely be a better power option. Installed exhaust catalytic convertors and purifiers can reduce exhaust emissions and make the engine acceptable for occasional indoor use. Diesel forklifts also have  the advantage, when outdoors, of operating more efficiently in colder weather conditions.  

Propane fuel powered forklifts may develop problems under extreme cold environments.

Forklift Maintenance

Another concern is forklift maintenance. Diesel trucks tend to require more care than propane forklifts. One of the most common problems is that diesel fuel will, over time, leave deposits on important operating parts of your forklift. This can shut it down if regular maintenance schedules aren’t followed.

Propane powered units usually are less costly than their diesel counterparts.

Before choosing any type of forklift, you should look at the full view. However, fuel source will often be a crucial factor in determining your needs.

For more help in making your decision contact one of our Liftway sales representatives.


Be sure to ask about availability for all products

Get Quote
Print Friendly, PDF & Email