JIT Toyota-Lift Blog

Can You Drive an Electric Forklift Outside?

  • October 10, 2022
  • Joyce Schwob


At JIT, we carry a wide variety of pneumatic tire electric forklifts. A question that we get a lot is whether or not you should be using an electric forklift outside, or if they are only for indoor warehouse applications. Because modern electric models can deliver just as much power and performance as internal combustion models, in theory they can tackle any lifting job and challenge. But can you use them outside?

Let’s take a look at what you need to ask and check before taking your electric forklift outdoors.

What is your electric forklift’s IP code?

Prior to using your electric forklift on outdoor projects, you have to first check its IP code, commonly found on its rating plate. The rating plate will start with “IP” followed by two numbers. The first one indicates your forklift’s protection again solid objects, and the second digit tells you how well the machine can withstand water.

The solid object protection ranges from 0-6, with the lowest number indicating no solid object protection. Similarly, the water protection ranges from 0-8, with 0 meaning that your forklift has no water protection and 8 meaning the machine could survive continuous immersion in water. Let’s break these ranges down a bit further:

Solid object protection
0 – No special protection
1 – Protection from solid objects larger than 50mm in diameter
2 – Protection against objects smaller than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter
3 – Protection from entry by tools, wires, and other objects with a diameter thickness greater than 1mm
4 – Protection from entry by solid objects with a diameter or thickness greater than 1 mm
5 – Protection against the amount of dust that would interfere with equipment operation
6 – Dust tight

Water resistance
0 – No protection against any level of water
1 – Equipment will not be damaged when exposed to vertical water droplets
2 – Equipment can withstand about a half inch of rainfall at slight angles
3 – Equipment can withstand about an inch of rainfall at any angle up to 60°
4 – Equipment can handle water splashing it from any direction
5 – Equipment will handle projected water with up to 15 psi of pressure
6 – Equipment will not be damaged by 100 liters of water a minute from any direction with up to 15 psi of pressure
7 – Equipment can withstand total immersion in water up to about 3 feet
8 – Equipment can withstand continuous immersion in water up to about 9 feet

For example, an IP rating of IP68 would mean that the machine is dust tight and could be submerged in 9 feet of water. However, most likely your forklift will not be subjected to such extreme conditions. If you’re using your electric forklift outdoors, we recommend a rating of at least IP54 to ensure it will be protected from dusty environments and water splashing from any direction.

What safety precautions should you take?

Once you determine if your electric forklift has the ability to operate in outdoor conditions, next you have to make sure you follow the correct safety procedures.

  • Use your lights and horn if rain, snow, or other conditions reduce visibility
  • Drive slowly in wet or slippery conditions
  • Keep the forklift cab shut and secure to avoid water or snow entering and damaging the interior
  • Ensure your operators wear protective gear, like jackets, boots, and vests, while working outdoors

If you are planning on using electric forklifts for outdoor jobs, then please let our team know before you purchase a machine, and we will make sure you choose one that can handle the conditions.