Selecting the Right Size Telehandler for the Job

The telehandler’s ability to lift, move and place a range of materials and tools make it an indispensable machine for elevating efficiency and productivity on the job.


Like any piece of construction equipment, telehandlers come in a lot of different sizes and with several unique options. Before you rent or purchase a telehandler, make sure you’re selecting a model that offers the required combination of power, maneuverability, lift capacity and lift height for your specific needs.


How much and how high

When you’re selecting a telehandler, the first thing you need to know is what you’re going to be picking up and how high and far you’re going to be lifting it. Look at the heaviest thing that you need to lift to determine your maximum lifting requirements.


You also need to determine where those materials are going. Are you going to be lifting straight up, or are you lifting up and over something? This is important because the rated operating capacities for telehandlers can change when the telehandler’s boom is extended while lifting up and over something. For these applications, you need to review the machine’s load chart.


Understanding load charts

Load charts explain how much each telehandler can lift at various heights and lengths throughout the machine’s lift radius. It’s important to for anyone using a telehandler to understand how to use the load chart to fit the application. A telehandler’s load charts are available in the cab, in the operator’s manual, as well as most manufacturers, including Genie, make them available online ( to help with the process.


If an operator ignores the load chart information and attempts to lift material that is too heavy for a given load zone referenced on the load chart, the machine could tip, compromising the safety of workers and potentially causing damage to the machine and the material being lifted.



You also need to select the right size telehandler for the jobsite. Larger machines have higher capacities and lift heights, but they also give up some maneuverability in confined spaces. In these situations, it makes sense to get a smaller model. Otherwise, you may want to look at a machine that has a higher lift height to reach up and over the top of an obstacle on the ground.


Interpreting telehandler model number

It’s important to be able to quickly identify a telehandler’s limits during your selection process and on the job. Model numbers will typically indicate a machine’s maximum lift capacity and lift height or serve as a reference so you can quickly look up the exact machine specifications.


Genie, for instance, bases its telehandler model numbers on each unit’s maximum lifting capacity and lift height. The first digit or two, as is the case with models that have four digits, represent the maximum lift capacity in pounds (by the thousand), and the last two digits identify the maximum lift height in feet. This means that the Genie GTH™-1256 telehandler has a lift capacity of 12,000 lb and a lift height of 56 ft.


Attachment capabilities

From multiple sizes of carrier forks, to truss booms and buckets, telehandlers can be outfitted with a wide range of attachments. Using the right size and type of attachment can increase productivity and reduce potential damage to the material being transported. You can also expand the capabilities of telehandlers through approved attachments and potentially eliminate the need for other types of loaders on the job.


Taking a few moments to evaluating your specific needs ahead of time will help keep you productive and safe on the job.

2 comments for “Selecting the Right Size Telehandler for the Job

  1. Gary Burgess
    October 31, 2017 at 1:24 am

    I require to lift a weight 2 Tonne and drive through an underpass of 2.5mtrs high. I do not need to lift the load to any height

    • Kyle Heckenlaible
      Kyle Heckenlaible
      November 9, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Gary. Your local Genie® dealer can help you determine which telehandler model would be right for your job site, as it is key to first assess the conditions and limitations of the site itself. To find the Genie dealer nearest to you, please visit our Dealer Locator and enter your country in the drop-down menu at the top of the page:

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