Do Forklifts Run on Liquid or Gas Propane? (The Reason Why)

Do Forklifts Run on Liquid or Gas Propane

This question is often asked by people who are looking to buy a forklift. Forklifts run on liquid propane, not gas. Propane is a popular fuel for forklifts because of its low cost and ease of use. Propane forklifts emit less carbon dioxide compared to their diesel counterpart.

Propane-powered forklifts are more efficient and cost-effective than the traditional diesel-powered ones. They use liquid propane that is cheaper to buy, less expensive to transport, and has fewer emissions. Propane-powered forklifts also have a longer fuel life which means they need to be refueled less often.

For example, the fuel efficiency of a propane-powered forklift is 2.72 liters per hour which are approximately 6 lbs. While the efficiency of a diesel-powered forklift is 3 liters per hour. This means that the gas-powered propane forklift truck will get you more work done in an hour than a diesel-powered forklift can do in one hour.

But then again, those numbers are just average. There are factors that come into play that affects the operational efficiency of the equipment such as the behavior of the operator, weight of the load handled, travel distances, operation frequency, and condition of the vehicle.

Trends of Propane Forklift in the Past Years

The demand for propane forklifts is ever growing in the past years, as the chart above shows. With increased demand, comes a higher frequency of accidents in the workplace.

In order to reduce accidents from happening, we need to have to adhere to regulations on how these vehicles are being used, especially in construction, warehouses and factories where there are greater risks and hazards.

Why Do Forklifts Use Propane and Not Other Fuel?

  • Forklifts are powered by HD-5 kind of propane because it is an efficient fuels with many benefits. It costs less than diesel fuel and requires less maintenance than gasoline or diesel engines. It also doesn’t produce as much smoke or carbon monoxide as gasoline or diesel engines.
  • The propane tanks are also smaller and lighter, making them easier to transport and use on the job site. Spare bottles can be swapped quickly without having to go to a distant refueling station.
  • Propane is much safe to store than gasoline or diesel; so if you don’t use the equipment that often in the workplace, propane can last long without gumming for a long period of time. However, in very cold weather, it is the other way around, propane freezes at -175C; gasoline and diesel don’t freeze even at this low temperature.
  • Propane-powered forklifts are more efficient than electric ones because they don’t require any charging or batteries. The cost of owning an electric forklift is significantly higher because the batteries are too expensive in terms of maintenance; owning electric forklifts can have a big impact on the business outlay.
  • Propane has a higher octane rating than diesel which means that it can be compressed more easily, making it easier for the engine to produce power with less fuel consumption.

How is Liquid Propane Different from Gas Propane?

Propane is a hydrocarbon gas that can be used as a fuel. It is usually found in the form of liquid or gas and it is mostly known for its use in cooking, heating and fueling equipment such as forklifts.

Technically, there is no difference at all. Propane in lithe quid state is stored in bottle or cylinder under pressure, it becomes gas when the pressure is released. When inside the pressurized container, propane temperature drops to -45F, this is why when you shake the container a bit, and you feel it’s cold.

In the application such as in powering forklifts, liquid propane is stored in a tank that has a dip tube to withdraw the liquid from, and then deliver to a vaporizer inside the engine manifold before combustion.

In other application such as in BBQ grilling, or running a generator, the propane, being under pressure, is release from the valve and to the regulator to power the appliance.

Depending on the application it can be used in gas or liquid form.

How to Safely Handle Propane Tanks?

Propane safety has been an issue for a number of years. The gas has been the culprit in many fires and explosions that have caused fatalities in the past. However, propane safety has improved over the years with stricter regulations and better technology.

Here are some of the things you can do to protect you from accidents in handling propane and its containers:

  • An operator training is required to operate the forklift truck. The training must include not only the actual operation of the equipment but also the safe handling and changing of the tanks. And since the tanks are quite heavy, manual handling training can there be included in the operator training to prompt operators about the danger of handling these containers.
  • When tanks are filled on-site, separate training must be given to operators that specifically tackle the safety and danger of filling propane into containers. Some states have their own regulation on this. Better to consult the committee or board in your state to make sure.
  • Regular inspection must be done on the tanks to ensure that they are in good working condition prior to installation to the forklift. Any damage and corrosion to the metal must be immediately reported, and likewise, check the recertification date of each tank – it may already be due.
  • Don’t use the forklift propane on other purposes other than powering the forklift. Some people convert the forklift tank for use on other appliances such as a grill, a generator, and heaters. It is prohibited to do the conversion.

The safety concerns with liquid propane are mostly due to the fact that it is a combustible fuel. This means that if it comes into contact with an ignition source, there is a chance for fire or explosion. But if you follow the recommendations above, accidents can be abated.

Do I Need a License or Training to Handle Propane?

Operating a forklift is a difficult task, and the other aspects is handling of propane – it’s also one that requires some training. That said, operators or designated personnel need to have formal training in order to safely handle this liquid. They need to be trained by their employers on the safety procedures and proper handling of this liquid.

Likewise, a license must be obtained from a state. Licenses vary depending on the state. Obtaining a license requires one to undergo a formal training and passing an examination and submitting of application for the license.

To Make a Conclusion

Propane Forklifts are becoming more popular among businesses because it is cheaper to run forklifts. Propane Forklift trucks produce less noise than diesel forklifts, making them ideal for indoor use.

If you are considering buying a forklift, you should know that they run on liquid propane. Tanks are to filled regularly and tanks maintenance is to be done routinely – and this comes with a cost but is much cheaper than using diesel and gasoline.

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