Choosing electric construction equipment or electric lawn equipment has health, safety and environmental benefits and might even improve your bottom line.
The construction equipment industry is changing gears, with more and more manufacturers shifting their focus to electric equipment.
Many types of electric construction equipment are already available. Electric light towers, pumps and compressors may be no surprise, but electric heavy equipment options now available include 12,500-pound forklifts, mini excavators and scissor lifts, to name a few.
Why consider making your next equipment purchase or rental electric? Here are seven reasons it makes sense for your workers, your business and the planet.
1. A cleaner, healthier worksite
Electric equipment typically runs on rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs instead of exhaust-emitting diesel. Fewer diesel engines on site means better air quality for workers and for people living and working in the surrounding area.
Eliminating diesel engines and cooling fans, along with traditional hydraulics systems in some cases, also leads to quieter machines with less vibration. Lower noise levels can mean better communication on the job. Plus, operators may feel less fatigued after several hours of work due to the smoother, quieter operation of the equipment. That all adds up to improved safety and productivity.
2. Easier noise ordinance compliance
Noise pollution at construction sites affects not only workers but also people living and working in the surrounding area. It’s a concern that sometimes limits where construction projects can be located and when the work can be done.
The quieter operation of electric machinery allows for greater flexibility in the location of construction work, making work possible even in areas with noise ordinances. Noise reduction could also extend the workday into the early morning or late evening, resulting in faster timelines for completing projects — and, for workers in hot climates, less heat stress.
3. More successful bidding
Project owners with greenhouse gas emissions targets pass the challenge on to contractors. Using electric equipment on the job is a smart way to appeal to sustainability-minded project owners and comply with emissions limits.
4. Lower operating costs
Choosing electric equipment means you’ll spend less of your budget on fuel. You’ll also rack up fewer engine hours. Diesel construction equipment keeps running until the engine is turned off, but an electric motor turns off as soon as it’s not in use.
5. Reduced maintenance and downtime
Lithium-ion batteries and electric engines are pretty much maintenance-free. Plus, electric machines have fewer moving parts than machines with internal combustion engines do. That means there is less to maintain and fewer opportunities for something to break, which reduces downtime.
6. Faster indoor work
Larger equipment that runs on diesel is confined to outdoor use, but electric models can come inside. For example, electric heavy equipment could be used for indoor demolition.
7. A lower carbon footprint
The construction industry has a large carbon footprint, and responsible companies recognize the need to find ways to reduce it. When combined with clean energy sources for electricity production, electric equipment can be a meaningful step toward increased sustainability.
What to consider in prep for electric equipment
Going electric requires a little planning. First, consider your charging infrastructure. For optimal charging time, a 240-volt Level 2 A/C setup (like what you would use to charge an electric car) is recommended. These setups reduce charging time compared to 120-volt outlets.
You’ll also need time to charge the machines. Charging time varies depending on the equipment and the power outlet. Some equipment may need only a quick top-off during a lunch break, or perhaps a battery swap. But in many cases, overnight charging is necessary.
Off-road construction equipment is the next frontier in electric machinery. With equipment being introduced that matches or even exceeds the performance of diesel-powered counterparts, it’s time to explore it.