If you work in the construction industry, you must learn about different equipment and how to use them. This ensures you are getting the right machinery for the right job, increasing productivity and reducing the overall cost.

The terms “Telehandler” and “Forklift” are often interchangeable. However, both of these are two entirely different industrial equipment; discussed below!

What is a Telehandler?

Let’s start with a little introduction: what is a telehandler? A telehandler, also known as a telescopic forklift, is an ideal choice for outdoor activities and construction sites. It is a hydraulic lifting machine that is used to carry and place heavier materials.

There are numerous types of telehandlers available out there, such as heavy-duty telehandlers, rotating telehandlers, and fixed broom rough terrain telehandlers. Each of the options has its own properties and capabilities.

What is a Forklift?

Generally speaking, a forklift or a lift truck is used to carry and move small industrial materials. Although you can use it for outdoor jobs, it’s usually used in indoor locations, such as warehouses. It includes a powered forked platform that can be raised or lowered for insertion.

Just like a telehandler, there are numerous types of forklifts available in the market., such as reach forklift, side loader forklift, rough terrain forklift, and counterbalance forklift. Before you invest in a piece of equipment, make sure to learn all about that certain variation to ensure you’re getting the right product!

Telehandler vs Forklift – 5 Important Differences

Most often, people think a forklift and a telehandler are the same things. However, this couldn’t be any far from the truth. Although both of the equipment are used to carry and move materials from one place to another, these are two completely different investments.

To give you a better perspective, below, we have compiled a list of some of the most important differences between a forklift and a telehandler.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

  1. Maneuverability

Compared to telehandlers, forklifts are usually smaller and more compact. This is the main reason why forklifts are preferred for indoor locations. You can easily maneuver a forklift in limited spacing, making it ideal for factory settings and warehouses.

When it comes to maneuverability, forklifts are certainly leading the industrial areas. However, due to their compact design, these are not ideal for larger and heavier equipment. As telehandlers are more durable and larger, they can be used in outdoor locations to carry and move heavier materials.

  1. Price

When it comes to price, a forklift is undoubtedly a more budget-friendly option than a telehandler. This is because as telehandlers offer more durability and versatility, they tend to be more expensive. This is the main reason why it’s recommended to use them for construction work.

In comparison, forklifts are comparatively affordable and more practical. That being said, both of these options are worth every single penny as both of the equipment have their option capabilities and features.

  1. Attachments

Whether you are investing in a forklift or a telehandler, you must consider your equipment’s attachments. Forklifts come with a compact, powered fork attachment at the front. This attachment moves up and down to carry and lift different materials. Although the attachment variety is limited, you can get various types of attachments for forklifts. 

Alternatively, in terms of attachments, a telehandler is a more flexible option. This equipment features a boom that can fit numerous types of attachments, depending on the job you’re performing. You can use buckets, scoops, hooks, and even forks with a telehandler to perform different tasks.

  1. Reach

Compared to traditional forklifts, telehandlers feature a bigger reach. Depending on your selected variation, a telehandler can reach more than 30 feet. Moreover, as it has a boom, you can maneuver it at a 70-degree angle. Therefore, these are usually used in place of cranes.

On the other hand, a forklift can only lift materials a few feet. That being said, you can also invest in high-reach forklifts to get bigger reach. However, they will certainly cost more and are not that easily available.

  1. Terrain

Forklifts come with smaller bases and bodies compared to telehandlers. They can use to lift and carry small materials, usually factory equipment, and warehouse items. Due to the smaller base, it’s not that stable. Therefore, it would be best to use a forklift on a flat and smooth surface.

In comparison, a telehandler comes with a larger base and body. Therefore, it provides better stability compared to a forklift, making it ideal for uneven terrain. While a forklift is suitable for factories and warehouses where land is flat, you can use a telehandler on an uneven and slippery surface as well!

Forklift or Telehandler – Which One to Select?

Now the real question is, which one is ideal for you: forklift or telehandler? 

Well, both of these products have their own specifications and capabilities. So, you cannot just pick one piece of equipment and use it for all sorts of activities. There are a few things you must consider to ensure you’re selecting the right product for the right job, such as:

Job Site

Why do you need a forklift or a telehandler? Where are you going to use these products? Before you make a purchase, the most important thing you need to consider is the environment you are working in!

If you want a product for indoor locations, such as factories and warehouses, a forklift is certainly a better option. It’s compact with a smaller base, making it ideal for smooth and flat surfaces. However, if you want to carry heavier materials to an outdoor location, you can invest in a telehandler.


Both forklifts and telehandlers support different accessories and attachments. With forklifts, you can use powered forks that come in different varieties. However, if you want flexibility and versatility, a telehandler is an ideal choice for you as it comes with a boom that supports various attachments.


Both forklifts and telehandlers have different capabilities. While a telehandler can carry and move heavier materials, a forklift offers better maneuverability. To increase productivity and prevent incidents, you need to select a product that is easier to use.

Whether you invest in a forklift or a telehandler, you need proper training to use the equipment. For this approach, you can partner up with “Clockwork Training” – a one-stop shop for all safety and training requirements!


Your budget is one of the most important things you need to consider while investing in equipment. If you have a limited budget, you can invest in a forklift. However, a telehandler offers more stability and features. Therefore, for construction sites, you should definitely invest in a telehandler as it’s worth every single penny.


Simply put, both forklifts and telehandlers have their own pros and cons. While one model offers better stability, the other is preferred when it comes to maneuverability. In addition, while you can use a forklift in indoor locations, a telehandler is more suitable for outdoor locations and job sites.

Therefore, consider the above-mentioned buying guide prior to making a final decision. This will help you get equipment that is more suitable for your work environment and requirement!