Manual vs Electric Pallet Jacks: What To Consider Before Buying

Manual vs Electric Pallet Jacks: What To Consider Before Buying

5 minute read

pallet jack, also known as a pallet truck, is a tool used to lift and move pallets. Pallet jacks are versatile and can be utilized in many different workplaces where pallets are commonly used for storage; including warehouses, industrial, and retail settings. Pallet jacks come in electric and manual options, each suited for certain applications. In this article, we will discuss the differences between the two types of pallet jack, and things to consider before purchasing one.

Main Differences Between Manual and Electric Pallet Jacks

The main difference between a manual and an electric pallet jack is that the manual jack is manually operated, whereas the electric jack is powered by an electric motor. 

They also have different operating mechanisms. Manual pallet jacks have a lever with a small handle on the back that is used to lower and lift the forks. When the handle is pulled, the lever releases hydraulic fluid and this mechanism lifts the forks. Whereas electric pallet jacks are powered by a motor. The motor propels the pallet jack and is used to raise and lower the forks.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Between A Manual Vs. Electric Pallet Jack

Each business has unique equipment needs. Consider these factors before deciding between a manual vs. electric pallet jack:

Where it will be used: Think about where and for what purpose you will be using the pallet jack. The size and layout of the area that it will be used in (e.g. your warehouse), including any obstructions, should be identified. For example, certain types of pallet jack are better suited for outdoor settings or rougher terrain. Manual jacks are easier to maneuver in tight spaces and may work better for a smaller area. 

Travel distance: If the pallets need to be moved over great distances, an electric pallet jack would be a better fit. A rule of thumb is, a manual pallet jack can be used if you will be transporting pallets up to 40 ft., and electric pallet jacks are more efficient for distances beyond that. 

Size and weight capacity: Pallet jacks come in many weight capacities and fork sizes. Make sure to have an idea of what size and weight of pallets you will be transporting before making a purchasing decision. Electric pallet jacks can typically carry heavier loads, but there are heavier duty manual pallet jacks that can also carry up to 6,000 lbs.

Pallet stacking needs: Electric pallet jacks can generally lift pallets higher than manual pallet jacks. If you will be frequently lifting pallets to an elevated position, an electric pallet jack might be a better option for you. Make sure to compare lift heights on the pallet jacks that you are considering before buying one.

Training requirements: Manual pallet jacks are easier to use and do not require certification to operate. Electric pallet jacks operators need to be trained and licensed.

Budget and maintenance: Electric pallet jacks have a higher upfront cost and require more maintenance, whereas manual pallet jacks are both cheaper and easier to maintain. However electric pallet jacks are still much cheaper than a forklift and can be used interchangeably for certain tasks. Also, consider the gain in efficiency when using an electric pallet jack as you will be able to transport pallets much quicker.

There are many factors to consider before deciding whether an electric or manual pallet will be a better fit for your business. Make sure to keep your current and future operations in mind when making this decision. A manual jack might be a better option for you currently, but if you are planning on expanding your facility, an electric jack might be a good longer-term investment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Manual and Electric Pallet Jacks

Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of each type of pallet jack:

Manual Pallet Jack


  • More affordable upfront and cheaper to maintain
  • Easier to use and doesn’t require extensive training
  • Lower maintenance
  • Easier to move and store due to smaller size


  • Strenuous to operate and requires physical force
  • More likely to cause injuries
  • The load capacity is limited by how much the operator can handle

Low Profile Industrial Pallet Truck, 27"W x 48"L

Low Profile Industrial Pallet Truck, 27


Low profile industrial pallet jack with reinforced frame and bulkhead. Slides in to openings only 2-1/4" high. Standard industrial pallet truck 7" polyurethane steer wheels, 2" poly fork wheels 210 degree steering arc 2-13/100" lowered and 6-1/4" raised height 3 function hand… read more

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Electric Pallet Jack


  • Easier to operate once trained
  • Doesn’t require physical force, and is less like to cause injuries due to strain
  • Has a higher load capacity and can be raised higher
  • Faster to operate


  • Needs more maintenance and repairs can be costly
  • Higher upfront costs
  • Requires additional training to use
  • Needs to be charged to use which limits its use time

Yale Used Electric Rider Pallet Jack

Yale Used Electric Rider Pallet Jack


Electric rider pallet jacks are a great way to quickly get around the warehouse or unload a truck.  Manufactured by Yale  Battery maintenance performed by Battcom General maintenance performed by Alta Equipment Comes with QuarterHorse battery charger and battery 24V… read more

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American Storage and Logistics Has Pallet Jacks in Stock

American Storage and Logistics has been a leader in new, used, and refurbished warehouse equipment for over 50 years. We have pallet jacks in stock and we offer same-day pickup or next-day delivery to the mid-Michigan areas, including Grand Rapids, Lansing, Battle Creek, and Kalamazoo. Check out the large selection of pallet jacks on our website.

Need help with your order? Call us today at 866-678-0326 to place an order over the phone.

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