Electric Pallet Jack vs. Manual Pallet Jack

Do you know when it’s the right time to use an electric pallet jack vs. a manual pallet jack? These two pieces of equipment have similar functions, but when you need to use one or the other can vary. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between electric and manual pallet jacks and discover how they help your warehouse stay productive and efficient.

Pallet Jacks Get Your Material From Point A to Point B

Pallet jacks are an essential piece of equipment for any warehouse or material handling business. They allow you to move pallets throughout your warehouse with ease and efficiency. And although pallet jacks have a smaller lift capacity than forklifts, they are able to be used in much smaller spaces. This allows them to deliver goods to any area within the warehouse, regardless of size or space.

You may find yourself confused about the terminology used to describe pallet jacks. What’s the difference between a pallet jack vs. a pallet truck? Well, they’re actually the same—pallet truck is just another name for a pallet jack. They’re also commonly referred to as pallet pumps, pump trucks, and hand trucks.

There are two types of pallet jacks, manual and electric, and they each have their strengths, weaknesses, and specific uses within a warehouse operation.

What Is a Manual Pallet Jack?

Manual pallet jacks are hand-powered tools that allow you to pick up and transport pallets throughout your warehouse. Manual jacks operate similarly to how a car jack works. After sliding the prongs underneath the pallet that you intend to move, you manually pump the handle to make the pallet rise off the floor. Once you’ve reached your intended location within the warehouse, all you need to do is squeeze the trigger on the handle to lower the jack.

Pros of Manual Pallet Jacks

One of the biggest advantages of manual pallet jacks is that they don’t require any additional training to operate since there are no electrical components or hydraulic pumps. Using a manual hand truck allows any one of your warehouse employees to move pallets from point A to point B.

Another advantage of manual pallet trucks is that they’re smaller than electric pallet trucks. This allows them to navigate small spaces within your warehouse that your forklifts and electric jacks can’t access. Because of their sleek design, they can be easily stored underneath stored pallets while not in use.

Despite the fact that manual pallet trucks lack electric motors, they boast an impressive lift capacity. Most manual pallet trucks allow you to lift and move upwards of 5,500 lbs.

Finally, manual pallet trucks are less expensive to buy, use, and maintain than electric pallet trucks.

Cons of Manual Pallet Jacks

Despite their versatility, manual jacks do have a few disadvantages. Because they are manually powered, they’re not ideal for mid- to long-range runs in your warehouse, and frequent use can quickly strain and tire out the operator. This can increase the chance of injury over time.

In addition, the many advantages of manual jacks make them a highly sought-after piece of equipment, so you might actually have trouble finding one when you need it.

What Is an Electric Pallet Jack?

Electric pallet jacks perform the same function as manual jacks, except they’re powered by an electrical motor and are slightly larger. They also use hydraulic pumps to lift pallets, which reduces strain on the operator.

Pros of Electric Pallet Jacks

Like manual jacks, electric jacks are extremely versatile pieces of equipment. Because they are powered by an electric motor and use a hydraulic pump, they can lift heavier loads than manual jacks. Many electric pallet trucks can lift and move up to 6,000 lbs.

Electric jacks also have a similar function to forklifts. They are able to lift loads much higher than manual jacks, which allows you to transport pallets to a broader range of locations in your warehouse.

Motorized pallet trucks also allow you to transport heavy loads much more quickly than their manual counterparts. This crucial advantage enables you to greatly increase your productivity and efficiency, especially in large warehouses.

Cons of Electric Pallet Jacks

There are a few drawbacks to using an electric jack. First, and perhaps most importantly, they have a strict training and certification process, so not all of your warehouse employees will be able to operate them.

In addition, electric hand trucks are much more expensive than manual jacks. The purchasing price is substantially higher, and their complex electric and hydraulic systems must be properly maintained. Electric jacks also require that you install a charging station, which can be expensive and take up crucial space in your warehouse.


Does your electric pallet jack need preventative maintenance? Explore our maintenance programs!

When To Use an Electric Pallet Jack vs. a Manual Pallet Jack

Now that you know the pros and cons of each type of pallet jack, let’s explore when to use each type of pallet jack.

Manual Pallet Jack Uses

Manual jacks are perfect for traversing short distances and transporting pallets that aren’t especially heavy. Because they aren’t motorized, repeated heavy use can quickly tire out and strain your operator. However, manual jacks are ideal for navigating small, narrow spaces in your warehouse.

Because of their smaller size and versatility, manual jacks are the perfect addition to any retail warehouse, cold storage facility, or general warehouse environment.

Electric Pallet Jack Uses

On the other hand, electric jacks are ideal for mid- to long-distance runs, especially in larger warehouse facilities. Their electric motor makes it easy to traverse long distances quickly, meaning you can transport materials much faster without tiring out your operator.

Electric jacks are also great for transporting materials over uneven ground and sloped surfaces. Unlike manual jacks, which require that the operator physically maintain the stability of the load, electric jacks feature electric brakes and anti-rollback systems that prevent the load from becoming unstable on uneven ground.

HTX Material Handling Provides Only the Highest-Quality Equipment for Your Warehouse

If you’re looking to rent or purchase a pallet jack for your warehouse, HTX Material Handling is your go-to choice for premium service, support, and equipment. We’ll help you determine which type of pallet jack is right for your warehouse so you can maximize your productivity and efficiency.

Contact us today to learn more about our warehouse equipment solutions.


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