How Does Lift Height Change A Forklift's Lift Capabilities?

Each forklift comes with a designated lift height and lift capacity that it can achieve. While the lift height does not change, the lift capacity can vary depending on what height the forklift is being operated at and what attachments may be fitted to it. In this article, we will examine everything you need to know about the varying lift heights when it comes to the weight you are attempting to lift.

Load Centers

Load centers, as the name suggests, are the weight of a load at its center. Loads should always be heaviest at their center as if they are heavier on any other given side, then it could cause the load to topple down or result in the fork tipping. Load centers are therefore used to determine how heavy a load is and if the forklift can handle the weight. Accessories, such as Weight Gauges, can be used to determine the approximate weight of an object being lifted, therefore allowing the driver to make a better estimation as to whether or not they can carry the load

Lift Height Spec Plate
Figure 1

Load Centers and Lift Capacities

As mentioned earlier, each forklift comes with a designated lift capacity that varies when it comes to lifting at various heights. A 5t forklift for example cannot lift 5t for the full lift height it can go to but instead would likely only be able to go up to around 2.5m at 5t if it has a 5m lift capacity. Forklifts typically can carry the maximum lift capacity up to half of their lift height but start to lose their lifting capacity once they go above half of that lift height. Once a forklift goes up to around 1m below its maximum lift height, then its lift capacity will drop further down to around 2/3 of its initial lift capacity. If a 5t forklift is in use, then it’s lift capacity could reduce all the way down to 1.6t when lifting around 1m below its max lift height. These figures can vary further as well depending on load center, forward tilting and back tilting. It is important to discuss what heights and weights you are lifting with your forklift salesman before committing to a purchase. Figure 1 contains an image of a spec plate on a forklift detailing the difference in load capacity as the lift height changes.


Unlike a load, an Attachment will alter the lift capacity of a forklift straight from the start. The reason behind this is simple as the weight of the will reduce the total amount the forklift can lift.  What this means is that if a 5t forklift were to have a 0.2t attachment fitted to it, then that forklift would now only be able to lift 4.8t as it will always be carrying that extra 0.2t load.

Forklift + attachment example
Figure 2

It is always important to talk to your salesman first about what loads you will be lifting and at what height as if you need to lift 5t at a height of 5m, then you will need a forklift that can lift more than 5t to make up for the load and attachment variations.