Bucket trucks are extremely helpful and are even sometimes necessary when you’re doing certain kinds of work. Just try fixing the electrical wiring on a telephone pole without one. These kinds of vehicles are popular with businesses that do everything from tree trimming to construction, but you don’t necessarily need to purchase one outright.
Renting a bucket truck is a great option for a business that only occasionally uses this kind of vehicle. Nonetheless, it will still require certification unless you hire an independent, fully licensed operator.
Determine Your Needs
Did you know there are actually a lot of different kinds of bucket trucks and bucket-truck hires? Some are better for street and traffic-light maintenance, while others work great for tree trimming. Before you rent a bucket truck, you’ll need to figure out what kind of bucket truck suits your needs. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- How high will I need my bucket truck to raise?
- Will I need to lift one or two operators?
- How much storage space do I need in my bucket truck?
- How much weight will I need to lift?
- Do I need a person to operate the bucket truck?
This can get complicated, but once you figure it out, you can pick a rental company.
Consider Body Type
Body type surprisingly has a lot to do with the function of a bucket truck. Trucks made of aluminum or fiberglass are lighter and therefore have lower fuel costs. Steel is more durable if you’re working in an environment like a demolition or construction site that might leave aluminum prone to dents and scratches.
Get the Insurance
If the rental company offers insurance, you should probably get the insurance. Bucket trucks are expensive, and if you dent the exterior loading some steel into the truck or if you accidentally swing the bucket into an overpass, you need to be covered. Hopefully, the latter would never happen because you’ll be fully trained and licensed to operate this type of vehicle in the first place.
In some cases, you may be required to carry additional insurance plans before renting a bucket truck.
License to Operate a Bucket Truck
If you’re planning to operate a rented bucket truck long term, you need the proper licensing. You’ll have to get a commercial drivers' license to operate any vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 gross pounds. Unfortunately, you’re not totally off the hook from certification if you’re renting a bucket truck that doesn’t have a CDL requirement.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires all bucket-truck operators to undergo bucket-truck training, take a written exam and pass a practical evaluation. You’ll need to receive separate training for each type of bucket truck you plan on operating. Thankfully, these kinds of vehicles operate similarly across brands, so you don’t need specific manufacturer training on top of that.
Opt for a Bucket-Truck Hire
If you don’t want to get training to use a bucket truck because your business only needs it here and there, many companies offer a bucket-truck hire. In this case, you’re not exactly renting the truck; you’re renting a service. A person will come with the bucket truck and will operate it on your behalf.
Search for a Good Deal
Some rental companies are cheaper than others. You’ll want to look at reputation since safety is on the line, but you should also acquaint yourself with the going rates for renting a bucket truck. The range is pretty large and will be dependent on where you live and the availability of bucket trucks for hire. Most bucket trucks cost between $350 and $850 per day or $75 to $250 per hour. Monthly rates are generally between $4,000 and $11,000.
Costs will increase if you also need to hire a bucket-truck operator and if you are dependent on the height of your bucket truck. A good rule is to calculate the height of the bucket truck in feet and multiply by 10. That should be your minimum daily budget.
Be Mindful of Safety
When you’re renting a bucket truck, you need to be mindful of safety. They can raise pretty high, and falling is a huge risk for the person in the bucket. Per OSHA requirements, whoever is in the bucket will need fall-arrest gear like a body harness and shock-absorbing lanyard if it’s going 6 to 10 feet above ground level. Some states require protective gear at heights of just 4 feet.
It’s also important to be mindful of collisions and electricity. These vehicles increase the risk of electric shock when doing electrical work, even if it makes the work more convenient.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.