Choosing Your Pallet Jack: Manual or Electric?

If you find yourself wishing your material handling team had access to pallet jacks, you may be wondering—which is better, manual or electric?

Both configurations have their benefits, so it’s important to determine which one fits your needs best for maximum productivity and return on investment. Here’s how to help you decide between these two options.

Factors to Consider

Start by thinking about your operational needs. Once you define your requirements, you’ll find it easier to appreciate the benefits of manual and electric pallet jacks.

Operating Environment

Most pallet jacks are operated in indoor places like warehouses and dock settings. Still, some need the capability to move over rough terrain. Whether you opt for manual or electric, make sure the pallet jack you choose is designed for the operating environment you have in mind.

Size and Weight Capacities

A pallet jack’s load capacity is directly proportional to its structural density. Therefore, a thicker, heavier framework facilitates a higher weight capacity. Smaller pallet jacks can carry 2,200 lbs, while heavy-duty models can transport up to 15,000 lbs. Keep in mind that electric jacks tend to have higher capacities.


The rule of thumb is to choose a manual pallet jack for hauls of up to 40 feet. Electric pallet jacks are more ergonomic, facilitating loads that must be moved between 40 and 100 feet. For distances longer than this, it’s wise to consider a stand-on or seated forklift.


Electric pallet jacks are more expensive than standard manual jacks, but the purchase could result in a higher return on investment by easing and speeding up the work.

Pros and Cons of Manual Pallet Jacks

Manual pallet jacks, the standard equipment found in most stores and warehouses, are operated by hand, making them ideal for light, occasional warehouse jobs. Consider these pros and cons.


  • More affordable to purchase, operate, and maintain
  • Smaller footprint for easier, more convenient storage
  • Little training required to operate


  • More strenuous to operate
  • Increased risk of worker injuries
  • Lower weight limits

Pros and Cons of Electric Pallet Jacks

Electric pallet jacks are similar in design and function to their manual counterparts, but they are powered by electric motors. While less common than manual jacks, there are many reasons to include them in your fleet. Just keep these pros and cons of electric pallet jacks in mind.


  • Safer and less physically demanding to operate
  • Faster performance
  • Greater range of distance
  • Ability to operate on an incline
  • Higher load capacities


  • More expensive to purchase
  • More maintenance required
  • Fuel required for operation
  • Larger storage footprint
  • Operator training and certification required


Turn to Ring Power Lift Trucks for a wide selection of material handling equipment, including manual and electric pallet jacks. We also offer parts, service, and repair to keep your machines in top working order. For more information about our Florida forklift dealership, please contact us at 877-544-5438.


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