Which Pallet Jacks Are Better: Manual or Electric?

May 14, 2021

A warehouse worker pulling manual pallet jacks behind him.

Pallet jacks are the most basic forklift type. They efficiently move pallets from one location to the next.

There are two main types of pallet jacks: manual and electric. Manual pallet jacks require people to move them. Electric pallet jacks are self-propelled by a motor.

Which machine is better? That depends on your business needs.

There are a few things to consider when comparing manual vs. electric pallet jacks. You need to think about your operating environment, the distance you'll be carrying loads, your budget, and more.

Luckily, Forklift Inventory is here to help you! Keep reading for more information on manual vs. electric pallet jacks.

Manual Pallet Jacks

If pallet jacks are the most basic type of forklift then manual pallet jacks are the most basic type of pallet jack. Manual pallet jacks are compact and low maintenance. Manual pallet jacks are used for lighter loads and shorter distances.


Stand behind the machine and hold the lever. Then, slide the prongs underneath the pallet. Pump the handle up and down to raise the forks and pallets as desired. Then, push or pull the pallet to its destination.


  • Manual pallet jacks are low maintenance. Since the machines aren't automated, there are less breakable parts. This also means repairs are quick and parts are easy to get.
  • Manual pallet jacks are very easy to use. Straight-forward as can be, there are no strict training guidelines.
  • The use can be versatile. Different fork dimensions are also available for different applications.
  • Manual pallet jacks are very dependable. As long as you maintain them, they'll work reliably for many years.


  • Due to the need to push the equipment, workers may experience strains or injuries. There's also greater risk of accidents.
  • More time and effort is required to operate manual pallet jacks. This leads to lower efficiency.
  • There are lower weight limits due to the human manually operating the pallets. This prevents loads from being transported far distances.
  • There are no brakes on the vehicle. This means once in motion, it will be impossible to stop suddenly.

Overall, manual pallet jacks are easy to operate and versatile for light-weight operations. If you run a consumer goods store, a manual pallet jack is great equipment to start out with.

Electric Pallet Jacks

Electric pallet jacks are automated versions of their manual counterpart. They are bigger and quieter. These self-propelled trucks effortlessly move heavier loads at greater distances, without operator strain.


Start by removing any charging cables from your path. Once you familiarize yourself with the control handle, press the "forward" button to move. Then, use the arrow buttons on the handle to move the pallet to your desired location.


  • There's little to no physical strain on operators. This means injuries are much less common.
  • Electric pallet jacks increase productivity. Their motor lowers, lifts, and moves at a faster pace.
  • These machines handle heavier loads at greater distances, for longer.
  • Operators will be able to climb ramps and inclines easily. Manual pallet jacks have to be pushed or pulled over these surfaces by a worker, which is unsafe.


  • There's a more expensive up-front cost. There's also higher maintenance costs.
  • Your operator will have to complete additional training.
  • Electric pallet jacks carry taller and heavier pallets. That means it's difficult to stop the machine abruptly.
  • Depending on the model, there could be a lot of battery maintenance. This includes watering, charging, and fees associated with additional maintenance.

Electric pallet jacks deliver speed, maneuverability, and load capacity while protecting the operator. While any business would benefit from this equipment, larger facilities will be the first to see a return on their investment.


When it comes to manual vs. electric pallet jacks, electric pallet jacks are the winner. Despite their initial higher cost, electric pallet jacks improve productivity, efficiency, and speed in the workplace.

Manual pallet jacks are more common because of how cheap they are. However, manual pallet jacks cost companies billions annually in worker-related injuries. These injuries also result in lost productivity hours. Even OSHA recommends electric pallet jacks over manual, citing less fatigue on the operator.

Electric pallet jacks allow you to move heavier loads more quickly and more safely. For these reasons, and more, electric wins when it comes to manual vs. electric pallet jacks.

Orange and grey electric pallet jacks in a warehouse.

Electric Pallet Jack Options

Any type of equipment is an investment. A lot goes into purchasing, including: initial price, maintenance costs down the road, and the equipment's ultimate return on investment. That's why you want to make sure you're set up for success.

Forklift Inventory is here to give you the best value for your dollar. Our quality equipment comes from trusted, pre-screened dealers. With Forklift Inventory, you'll get the most reliable and durable pallet jacks on the market.

Increase efficiency and productivity in your business with the equipment you need. It's as simple as starting with Forklift Inventory now.

Get Pricing on Pallet Jacks Today.

Further Reading:

Compare Forklift Prices

Forklift Inventory has the largest online selection of forklifts, aerial lifts and construction forklifts. Compare new and used forklifts to get the lowest prices available.

Countries Served

Contact Us

  • forkliftinventory.com
  • (877) 276-4227
  • support@forkliftinventory.com


*Savings claims are based on used forklift prices when compared to new inventory prices. Savings is not guaranteed and is subject to change.