How to Buy and Rent a Compact Telehandler in 2024 with a Special Focus on Subcompact Units

Skyjack 3013 telehandler

Even within the realm of compact telehandlers, there are different sizes that serve different load and reach requirements. Most compact telehandlers on a rental lot usually sport a two-stage boom with a lift height from 16 to 20 ft, lifting 5,000 to 6,000 lbs. These all-terrain machines have four-wheel drive, various steering modes, fast travel speeds, cool cab and tech options and the ability to take hydraulic attachments off the boom. These compact telehandlers are huge in Europe (especially on farms), and this category continues to grow on American contractors.

“They have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to navigate in smaller areas, making them a great choice for indoor projects or outdoor jobsites with limited space,” confirms Malcolm Early, vice president of marketing at Skyjack. “Compact telehandlers are just smaller versions of their larger counterparts, designed to provide the same functionality but in tighter workspaces.”

Skyjack’s SJ519 TH model is a prime example of a classic compact telehandler. With an overall length of 13 ft, 5 in. (minus the forks) and a width of 5 ft, 11.5 in., it can fit into tight spaces. Its stowed height is 6 ft, 4 in, while its maximum lift height is an impressive 19 ft, 1 in. The SJ519 features a maximum lift capacity of 5,500 lbs and an operating weight of just 10,500 lbs. This unit has a max travel speed of 15 mph and three different steering modes. The SJ519 TH can even run attachments from forks to brooms with 18 gpm of auxiliary hydraulic flow. This unit has awesome options from an enclosed cab and backup camera to lighting packages and Skyjack’s Flexdrive speed select dial. This is a great compact unit, but sometimes even a regular compact telehandler is too big for the job at hand.

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Subcompact Telehandler Options in North America

Some of the smallest compact telehandlers are made by global aerial lift expert Manitou. We’ll call the ULM 412 H and ULM 415 H subcompact telehandlers. They don’t lift as high or lift as much, but subcompacts can definitely get into tighter spaces. The ULM 412 H and ULM 415 H telescopic handlers both have a max lifting height of 14 ft, 1 in. and a max reach of 8 ft, 7 in. The max lift capacity of the ULM 412 H is 2,200 lbs, while the max lift capacity of the ULM 415 H is 2,650 lbs.

“Each features an outer turning radius of 8 ft, 7 in., which makes each unit capable of maneuvering even in tight locations [and] operations,” says Steve Kiskunas, product manager at Manitou.

The units are also relatively light. The max weight of the ULM 412 H is 6,063 lbs, while the max weight of the ULM 415 H is 6,393 lbs. This highlights one of the key features and growth drivers for this product category: They are self-towable and transportable.

“Contractors, homeowners, farmers and others can either easily haul these from site to site or from a rental business to the jobsite,” Kiskunas elaborates. “The compact size allows the user of the machine to control their own destiny related to the transportation and movement of these machines, which is a major advantage.”

Once on the jobsite, subcompacts move just as quickly, with a maximum travel speed on the Manitou units up to 15.5 miles per hour. With appropriate safety signage based on local regulations, they can even drive from site to site on a road. But it’s not just Manitou.

“There are many brands, makes and models in the North American market that fall in the compact, super compact and ultra compact category of telehandlers,” says John Boehme III, senior product manager for JLG. “The smallest telehandlers that JLG currently provides [are] the JLG G5-18A and SkyTrak 3013. The SkyTrak 3013 is the smallest ultra compact telehandler offered by JLG Industries.”

How compact? The JLG G5-18A is 71.5 in. wide, 150.4 in. long and 75.6 in. tall. It weighs 11,000 lbs and has a max lift height of 18 ft, 4 in. The SkyTrak 3013 ultra compact is 55.3 in. wide, 105 in. long and 79 in. tall, weighing 5,280 lbs. It has a maximum lift height of 13 ft, 1 in. Both machines are designed to work in tight spaces or on jobsites that have space limitations, such as parking garages, residential housing, construction sites, nurseries, municipal worksites and other urban or suburban applications, Boehme says. Both are also highly maneuverable, thanks to a very tight turning radius.

Attachments for Compact Telehandlers

Manitou telehandler

Also called telescopic handlers, boom lifts, teleporters, reach forklifts or cherry pickers, these hydraulic lifting machines can carry and place heavy materials often with a set of forks, which are often called a carriage. More than a hybrid crane-forklift, telehandlers can also wield attachments such as buckets, brooms, grapple forks and farm implements from silage defacers to bale spears. Advances in hydraulic systems now provide smoother and speedier boom extensions, improved safety features (like load moment indicators) and more sophisticated control systems, enabling these machines to perform various applications at height with minimized risk.

Boehme says telehandlers are “excellent tool carriers,” while being able to “pick and place materials to their respective maximum lift heights.”

Specialty attachments extend a telehandler’s duties. Boehme lists: a pipe grapple for securely transporting pipes; a fork-mounted work platform for lifting people so they can work at height; fork-mounted trash hoppers that enable an operator to empty trash without leaving the cab; and sheet material handlers that can lift and place sheetrock, drywall, plywood and other sheet materials.

With an approximate auxiliary hydraulic flow of 25 gpm for the JLG G5-18A and 5 gpm for the SkyTrak 3013, these machines typically use carriage and forks or a bucket, Boehme says. “However, when equipped with a universal skid steer coupler, [they] can be used with most existing skid steer [or track loader] attachments.”

“While attachment use and maneuverability around the jobsite is a major advantage, these machines absolutely can be used as pick-and-place machines within the lifting and reach envelope they are capable of,” Kiskunas notes. “Obviously, forks will be the most important attachment with these machines, but they are capable of more.”

Manitou telehandlers feature a universal mount for skid steer and compact track loader attachments, allowing them to use the attachments many contractors and rental businesses already have in their fleets. While a contractor needing high-performance, high-capacity hydraulic attachments will get better performance on an actual skid steer or CTL, Kiskunas says these telehandlers operate with 12.7 gpm of auxiliary hydraulic flow to the attachment. “These can be extremely effective in snow removal, with attachments such as brooms and sweepers.”

Applications for Compact Telehandlers

application construction telehandler MTA 519 manitou

The compact size of these small telehandlers makes them ideal for a variety of jobsites. Skyjack’s Early says, “This machine’s size, reach and adaptability make it popular on a range of jobsites from home construction to farming, while maneuverability makes the machine popular for confined locations such as urban jobsites, parking garages and loading and unloading in congested areas.”

According to Manitou’s Kiskunas, general demand is currently high and is increasing. “Our dealers can sell them almost as quickly as they get on the lot,” he states. He adds that contractors who previously would not consider a telescopic handler because they thought they were too big or too expensive are now able to contemplate these machines, thanks to a more compact price point and footprint, as well as their more practical transportation requirements.

He believes features such as the ergonomics of the operator environment and the comfort Manitou delivers to operators every day contribute to the compact telehandler’s rising popularity. He predicts a zero or low emissions version of this machine is also on the horizon. Kiskunas lists a few specific industries where telehandlers are popular:

  • General Construction. “We see great demand and popularity with these machines in various homebuilding and related industries, such as concrete contractors,” says Kiskunas. What makes them popular in this application is their ability to load and unload trucks and pick and place materials — all in a package that can work in an all-terrain environment. “That rough terrain capability is key. They can move materials around the jobsite with ease, whether it be on a pallet or in a bucket.”
  • Rental. Kiskunas says telehandlers are ideally suited for rental because they are just as appropriate for the weekend warrior as they are the contractor. “We see a natural progression in rental where a contractor or more professional user rents these for a time, and then either puts that unit on a rent-to-own plan, or buys one for themselves once they see the value.”
  • Landscaping. Landscaping is an obvious fit because of the attachment versatility and because of the terrain these machines are working in. It’s four-wheel-drive, it’s all-terrain capable and [it’s] able to move landscaping rocks or rolls of sod effectively around the job. “Getting in and out of these machines with a standard door is easier than some other styles of machines,” Kiskunas adds.
  • Snow Removal. Excellent power and lots of tire options make for good snow pushing, Kiskunas points out. The extra lifting height of the telescopic booms makes for easier stockpiling.
Skyjack SJ519 telehandler

Popular applications for compact telehandlers exist wherever space is limited and when more lift height and reach, as well as “terrainability,” as JLG’s Boehme puts it, are needed.

Compact Telehandler Rental Prices

sunbelt rentals rental telehandler

Another application that is increasing in regularity involves the rental market. According to Austin Caskey, product line manager for Sunbelt Rentals, 5,000-lb compact telehandlers make up the fastest growing class because “that size is so versatile. They’re being used instead of tractors, backhoes and skid steers.”

Boehme points out that “all SkyTrak telehandlers are built for rental” with a simple design that has been field-proven for durability and reliability. According to Caskey, rental of a mid-range (6,000-lb) telehandler ranges from $250 to $500 per day, $700 to $1,300 per week or $2,000 to $3,000 per month. In his experience, these machines are long-term rentals.

It’s important to note that renters must complete OSHA-approved training before renting a telehandler. That includes classroom lectures, interactive computer learning and hands-on practical training, followed by passage of a final evaluation.

Lori Lovely is a freelance writer for Compact Equipment.

Skyjack 3013 telehandler
JLG’s SkyTrak 3013.

SkyTrak 3013 — JLG’s ultra compact telehandler is 55.3 in. wide, 105 in. long and 79 in. tall, weighing 5,280 lbs. It has a maximum lift height of 13 ft, 1 in. This unit uses rear-wheel steering for less ground disturbance.

Kramer 804 — With an operating weight of 5,005 lbs, it stands 6 ft, 3 in. tall and features a max lift height 13 ft, 7 in. Considered the smallest in the world, it has a turning radius of just 595 mm for superior maneuverability. All-wheel drive enables usage on rugged terrain.

Genie GTH-5519 — It has a lift capacity up to 5,500 lbs and a forward reach of 11 ft. Operating weight is 10,360 lbs.

Gehl GCT 3-14 — Featuring an operating weight of 6,063 lbs, standing height of 6 ft, 4 in., maximum lift height 14 ft, 1 in. and lift capacity up to 2,758 lbs, it also offers an automatic parking brake and multi-function joystick controls.

JCB 514-40 — Standing just an inch under 6 ft, it has an operating weight of 6,427 lbs, lift height of 13 ft, 3 in. and lift capacity of 3,087 lbs. Despite its size, it has one of the largest cabs in its class.

Kramer KT 144 — At a standing height of 6 ft, 6 in. and an operating weight of 7,386 lbs, this machine offers maximum lift height of 14 ft, 1 in. and capacity of 3,197 lbs. Its cab offers 360-degree visibility.

Bobcat TL25.60 — One of Bobcat’s biggest compact telehandlers, with an operating weight of 9,476 lbs, it stands 6 ft, 10 in. and features a lift height of 19 ft, 5 in., with a lift capacity of 5,512 lbs. The hydrostatic transmission provides precise movement and maximum uptime.

Bobcat E40 — Featuring an operating weight of 9,180 lbs, lift capacity of 3,939 lbs, at 192 in. long and slightly over 98 in. tall, this machine is smaller but just as easy to operate.