When you talk aerial lifts, you’re more than likely talking about renting an aerial lift according to a recent survey. Of aerial lift users, the majority, 61.9 percent, say they are more likely to rent aerial lifts, while 31.8 percent are more likely to buy.


Of the respondents who maintain their own fleet of aerial lifts, 25.8 percent have one to two machines. And 11.8 percent say that they maintain an owned fleet of three to four lifts, while 11.1 percent indicate that their owned fleet of lifts consists of more than 10 machines.


The supply of aerial lifts seems to be on par with demand: 69.6 percent of respondents say they were able to satisfy their need for aerial lifts in the past year through rental. Another 26.3 percent say they were able to satisfy their aerial lift requirements through machines already on hand, while 16.6 percent say they filled their aerial lift needs through a combination of purchasing and leasing.


Picking a platform

Preferences were all across the board when respondents were asked what size aerial lifts they typically use. The largest percentage, 30.4 percent, prefer units with 50 to 79 feet of reach; another 19.4 percent prefer machines with 40 to 44 feet of reach.


When respondents purchase an aerial lift, used units edge new machines slightly: 29.1 percent of respondents say they prefer to buy used lifts, while 23.8 percent prefer new machines. Almost 34 percent of those who buy used lifts say they prefer lifts between three and four years old.


Rental centers seem to be the most popular route of renting an aerial lift. The largest percentage, 29.8 percent, purchase their used units from rental centers. Auctions are the second most popular used machine source, with 15.2 percent buying their used machines in a high-bid situation.


The top machine choice among both renters and buyers is the articulating boom lift . Telescopic lifts were the second choice for both renters and buyers. Discrepancies between the two groups begin to appear on the third most preferred machine type: 40.5 percent of those who rent aerial lifts prefer scissor, self-propelled, gas/diesel-powered units; while among those who buy their aerial lifts, 40.5 percent opt for electric-powered, self-propelled scissor machines. According to survey respondents, the three most important machine features are working height (84.8 percent), platform size (52.2 percent) and type of power source (48.1 percent).


Aerial lift usage

When asked how many hours a day they use their aerial lifts, most contractors (35 percent) say they depend on their units for more than six hours a day. Another 27 percent use lifts for five to six hours a day. Visit one of their job sites, and 61.6 percent of respondents say you will likely find one of their machines engaged in exterior face construction work. The second and third most common applications for aerial lifts were interior construction work and maintenance in high areas.


The largest percentage of respondents, 28.4 percent, say they expect to get between seven and eight years of service from aerial lifts in their fleet. Another 18.6 percent have lower expectations, saying they expect five to six years of service; 17.7 percent, however, expect the aerial lifts in their fleets to work for more than 10 years.


Aerial lift purchase plans

It looks like a strong year for aerial lift sales. When asked if they intend to purchase a new aerial lift in the coming year, 29.1 percent of respondents say “yes.” When asked how many new machines they plan to add to their fleets, 33.3 percent of those contractors planning to buy say they will add only one machine. But hard on the heels of this group is another 23.8 percent who say they will add more than five machines to their existing aerial lift fleets.


Aerial lift disposal

When asked how they dispose of older aerial lifts in their fleets, most respondents, 37.4 percent, say they trade old machines in on new lift purchases at a dealership. Another 27.7 percent say they usually sell their older lifts to another contractor.