LPG – the fuel choice for forklift trucks

LPG – the fuel choice for forklift trucks

Forklift trucks (also known as stacker trucks) offer many benefits to businesses and their forklift operators, and aside from thinking about how high you need to lift, where your forklift truck will be used and how many hours a day it will be used for, there are also different types of fuels to consider as well.

When it comes to powering forklifts trucks (FLT’s), traditionally there have been 3 options: LPG, otherwise known as liquid petroleum gas, diesel, and electricity where the forklift is powered by an industrial battery. Red diesel has been a popular choice of fuel in the past thanks to it having a lower rate of taxation than derv (road diesel). But that has changed recently, and in this blog we’ll look at why both diesel and electric are no longer as attractive as fuels on which to run your fleet, and why LPG forklifts are fast becoming one of the most popular types of forklift trucks because they’re highly flexible, offer fuel efficiency and consistent power delivery, and are the more environmentally friendly choice.

Red diesel taxation – what’s changed?

New regulations surrounding the use of red diesel came into effect at the beginning of April this year. The HMRC has said these changes were designed to help meet ‘climate change and air quality targets’. A spokesperson for HMRC said ‘Removing most red diesel entitlements will also help to ensure that the tax system incentivises users of polluting fuels like diesel to improve the energy efficiency of their vehicles and machinery, invest in cleaner alternatives, or just use less fuel’.

But these changes have serious cost implications for businesses, because red diesel, also known as gas oil or tractor diesel, is no longer permitted for use in certain industries.  From 1st April 2022, many sectors lost their entitlement to use red diesel and now must use white diesel, or alternatively consider other fuels. Businesses no longer eligible for red diesel tax relief are now taxed at the standard rate, which means they will be paying much, much more and meaning that forklift trucks powered by diesel have become significantly more expensive to operate.

Advantages of LPG over diesel and electric:

LPG is a much cleaner fuel than diesel. It is a non-toxic, smoke-free fuel, and has the lowest carbon footprint of all off-grid fossil fuels. Emitting 12% less CO2 than oil, it emits very low levels of NOx, SOx and Particulate Matter (PM) – all good for air quality and helping your business reduce its carbon footprint.

Bulk LPG provides great flexibility operationally. It is fast and efficient to swap over the LPG bulk tank when necessary. Refuelling from an on-site bulk supply is the easiest and most cost-effective choice with reduced downtime when it comes to filling up, as it only takes a matter of minutes to refill your forklift bottles from a bulk on-site LPG storage tank. With no batteries to charge, downtime is kept to a minimum which helps increase productivity. Propane forklifts have the advantage of superior runtime over electric forklifts - which have a limited range. With LPG, there is no need to buy costly batteries and recharging equipment or pay for battery disposal. Also, there is no need to construct recharging bays which can be costly and take up valuable space on your premises. Not to mention that electric forklifts can sap the electricity supply - and then there’s the risk of power cuts in inclement weather conditions! LPG offers peace of mind with a far more consistent, all-year-round supply.

Gas forklifts also give greater flexibility as they can be used both indoors and outdoors, making them suitable for a range of applications in comparison to electric forklifts which are an indoor alternative, and diesel forklifts, which are unsuitable for use in enclosed and indoor areas as exhaust fumes can escape into the atmosphere. Furthermore, with diesel forklifts, there is the risk of fuel leaks or spillage - diesel fuel is highly flammable and poses a serious fire hazard if not contained, can be harmful to the environment and can be stolen, whereas LPG is a safe alternative and virtually impossible to steal.

Forklift gas trucks generally perform better than either electric or diesel-powered units thanks to a better power to weight ratio and more responsive engines, and are particularly powerful on steep gradients and uneven surfaces. Be aware, driving over steep gradients may drain electric batteries faster than expected. Tests have demonstrated that LPG forklifts are quieter to run by up to 10 decibels compared to diesel alternatives which are noisy and means operators may need to wear appropriate ear protection: another cost to your business. Therefore, LPG forklift trucks can be used at any time during the day or night, which is perfect for those who run 24-hour operations.  Also, diesel models tend to be larger in size and require more room to operate in.

How to switch:

So, the case for LPG is clear; with improved efficiency, lower emissions and power, and flexibility it's a no-brainer! At Northern Energy, we are one of the leading UK bulk LPG suppliers of commercial propane gas, and supply to forklift truck fleets throughout the North of England. We’re a family-run and independent business, and always aim to give a level of service and reliability that others can’t match. Whether you are already using LPG and want to change to a new bulk gas supplier offering a better service and value, or are thinking of changing to LPG, switching to us is easy and hassle-free.

We will work with you to provide a safe, reliable, flexible and cost-effective bulk LPG fuel supply. Our expert team of qualified Gas Safe engineers will install a bulk refuelling unit on your premises quickly and with minimal, if any, disruption, and regularly inspect and service it from day one and provide ongoing aftercare to make sure we don’t just keep meeting your expectations but surpassing them. Our regular top-up service will ensure a continuous and consistent supply all year round and leave you free to concentrate on running your business. To find out more, call us on 01423 772 789 or click here. And with BioLPG on its way, you will be able to be environmentally friendly without sacrificing on performance, compared to using traditional LPG. Watch this space!