Stand-Up Forklifts vs Sit-Down Forklift

Standing desks are all the rage now in today’s workplace. While many people who have standing desks hardly use them (a statistical assumption!), they’re a great addition to any office. They’re also brilliant for allowing you to stretch your legs every once in a while!

There are also proven health benefits of not sitting down throughout an entire work shift, too.

But choosing between a stand-up forklift and sit-down forklift is about more than the potential health benefits. Using the correct piece of equipment can actually have a major impact on the safety of your workplace. This guide will help show you the pros and cons of both types of forklifts. It should point you in the right direction for your next purchase, lease, or rental decision.

Sitting or standing on your Forklift, what are the differences?

On/Off Frequency

One of the main reasons you would use a stand-up forklift is the fact that getting on and off the forklift can be faster. With lower step heights and no seatbelt to take on and off, time spent entering and exiting can be cut down significantly. This is ideal for applications where operators are frequently getting off of the forklift throughout the course of their shift. The time and labor cost savings can really add up over time, depending on the frequency of operators’ getting on and off of the forklift.


Sit-down forklifts can have higher travel speeds and lift/lower speeds than stand-up forklift, which can increase productivity and throughput in high volume applications.

Lifting Capacity

Stand-up forklift and sit-down forklifts are both counterbalanced type forklifts. When comparing a stand-up forklift to a 3-wheel electric with the same base capacity, you typically get more lifting capacity from the stand-up forklift at higher lift heights due to the compact design and centralised centre of gravity. Four-wheel electric models, however, typically attain the highest lifting capacities overall.

Purchase Price

The initial cost is typically higher for stand-up forklift when compared to 3-wheel electric models.

Right Angle Stack

In general, right angle stacking capabilities are fairly similar between 3-wheel electric and stand-up forklift models with similar capacities. Stand-up forklifts, however, usually have a small advantage due to their shorter length. They can operate in slightly smaller aisles. Both stand-up forklift and 3-wheel electric forklifts have a significant advantage over 4-wheel electrics in regard to minimum aisle width requirements.

Operator Preference

Operator preference tends to play a large role in most purchasing decisions for new equipment. Operators who are used to operating sit-down forklifts are generally resistant to swapping their sit-down for a stand-up forklift and vice versa. The main reasons for this are the differences in operating position and operability. Stand-up forklift are typically controlled by a single multi-function control handle while sit-down forklifts use conventional cowl-mounted levers or mini-levers. Sit-down forklifts also have traditional brake pedals, while stand-up forklifts use “plugging” (requesting travel in the opposite direction) for braking and have a dead man pedal for emergency braking. Being familiar with a particular operating style promotes safety and can help to increase productivity and operator confidence. But over time, operators tend to adjust and get used to the new controls and nuances.

The Welfaux Conclusion

As always, if you’re unsure of which product is right for you, reach out to your local, authorised local Mitsubishi dealerfor advice and consultation based on your material handling needs.