The 5 Best Dollies That Take the Hard Work Out Of Moving Heavy Equipment

A dolly is a tool that helps you move items and equipment around your home or within your workplace. These simple machines also allow you to transport odd-shaped boxes and containers from one location to another. By using the best dolly, you minimize the risk of strain on your back and shoulders, which would result from repetitive lifting. Keep in mind that even if you’re transporting light items, bending and lifting objects constantly can cause health issues.

The Best Dolly

What’s the Best Dolly?

Whether you work as a delivery person or simply have to move a ton of heavy equipment from one location to another, a dolly can make your work easier. Plus, there’s an enormous variety to choose from; folding models that can be tossed inside a cupboard or sturdier models that support hundreds of pounds.

#1 Harper Trucks 6781 Appliance Dolly

For individuals planning to transport heavy pieces of equipment, this appliance dolly by Harper Trucks is the perfect option. Constructed exclusively from steel, this dolly can carry items of up to 800 pounds.

The dolly boasts an ergonomic handle and large wheels to provide quick rolling. Furthermore, the dolly comes with a glass filled belted stair climber, which guarantees easy maneuvering up or down a flight of stairs.

 

#2 Pack-N-Roll 83-297-917 Folding Hand Truck Dolly

Have you been looking for a folding dolly that can still carry heavy items with ease? If you have, the Pack-N-Roll hand truck is a prudent idea. Since it’s a folding hand truck, it’s easy to store and saves on storage space. More specifically, the dolly folds up to a compact size of about 3.5 inches thick.

Furthermore, the dolly can carry items weighing up to 500 pounds. With the integration of a single hand lock-and-release handle, this dolly will transport all your items without wobbling at any point.

 

#3 Vergo S300BT Model Industrial

If you just want a dolly to transport light items around your home or office, the Vergo S300BT is an excellent choice. This dolly is recommended for events like picnics, trade shows, travels, and camping grounds.

It has nesting wheels, which automatically move into position when the nose is being folded or unfolded. It weighs about 10 lbs and features a maximum load capacity of 275 lbs. Another plus of this dolly is that it does not require any assembly. You can use it straight out of the box, which is convenient if you don’t have any time to spare.

 

#4 Cosco Shifter Multi-Position

The Cosco Shifter hand truck offers the highest level of versatility. The dolly, which has flat-free tires with steel hubs and a massive platform, converts into three different configurations. To put it simply; you can use it as a two-wheel, four-wheel or upright hand truck. And the best part is that you don’t need any complex tools to alternate between these configurations.

Also, the Cosco Shifter dolly is built of aluminum so it’s resistant to bending, breaking and rusting. This hand truck works efficiently whether you use it for home applications or industrial use. But keep in mind that its load capacity is 300 pounds.

 

#5 Push Cart Dolly by Wellmax

The beauty about dollies is that you can get a quality one even with a small budget. Take the Push Cart Dolly for instance, it’s so affordable yet it offers the same performance as other pricier models. Apart from its decent pricing, it also boasts a compact and foldable design. This way, you can easily tuck it away after use.

Also, the dolly is one of the easiest to maneuver. Its four wheel platform makes for easy navigation and optimal stability. These wheels feature 360-degree swivel mechanism to provide simple transit. Overall, the dolly can carry items weighing 330 lbs.

 

Why Is It Called a Dolly?

best-hand-truck

Also referred to as a hand cart or hand truck, a dolly is among the oldest tools for transporting pieces of equipment from one point to another. But how exactly did dollies come to be? Unfortunately, the invention of these dollies remains an unknown mystery. Rumor has it that the idea of a dolly came about when humans started using tools. Initially, people used big-sized tree branches to prop up and carry objects. The wheel was invented much later after that. It is this invention of the wheel that facilitated other inventions like those of dollies. So, who came up with the term dolly? There have many schools of thought on how this term came about.

  • The first theory proposes that the word was derived from “trolley”, which is a similar tool used for moving objects
  • Another theory has it that it was derived from the name Dorothy during the 16th century although there is no explanation on how the two terms relate to each other
  • In a different theory, the word was coined from the fact that young girls used to play with dolls, which looked very similar to hand trucks
  • Dolly was also a derogatory term for women in the 19th century

What Is the Difference Between a Dolly, Hand Truck, and a Folding Hand Truck?

For individuals who operate logistics or delivery service companies, one of the most vital aspects of their operations is moving items from one location to another. The most obvious strategy to get this done is to hire people who can manually move these objects. However, you cannot expect all your workers to lift boxes all day, especially if they are heavy. Not unless you want them to start suffering from back pain.

Instead, you ought to provide them with gadgets or tools that can be used to carry these boxes. Some of the tools that come to mind are hand trucks, dollies and folding hand trucks. So what makes the three different from each other? Keep in mind that a tool will only be efficient if it’s designed for the task at hand.

Dolly

‘Dolly’ is a collective term for transportation items. Essentially, it’s made up of a wheeled platform with two axles and four wheels. People have been using dollies to transport items for decades. It is thus not surprising that dollies are now available in a wide range of sizes and shapes.

Individuals who deal with the delivery of items are the most likely category of people to benefit from dollies. In fact, the greatest benefit of a dolly is that it makes stationary items movable. If you have a large piece of equipment, which you need to transport, just lift the object onto the dolly and carry it to your destination.

On the flipside, a dolly does not provide any means of moving objects onto its platform. This means that an individual has to lift the object manually, which can be pretty tedious if the item is heavy.

Hand Truck

A hand truck is also referred to as a two-wheeler, a trolley, a trundler, sack barrow and stack truck. Two-wheelers date as far back as 1700. Back then, the task of unloading objects from the ship was left to young boys who did not have the physical strength to do so. To solve this, someone came up with the idea of making an L-shaped platform, fitted with two wheels on its base. This way, the lower section of the truck could be slid easily under the platform, and the entire truck tilted backward so as to move the platform around.

Presently, hand trucks are used extensively by companies that deal in transportation. Whether the items you’re transporting are small or big, a hand truck will come in handy. Another perk of a hand truck is that you can load multiple items at once and thus save time in transporting them. The only thing you need to be cautious about is stack the items carefully without damaging them.

Folding Hand Truck

A folding hand truck is one of the latest invention. As you might have guessed, this is merely a hand truck, but one whose base and wheels can be folded away when the truck is not being used. Essentially, the entire assembly can be folded flat and then folded out when you want to use it.

The good thing with folding hand trucks is that they’re lightweight. They are designed to provide convenience as well to make transporting items from one destination to another easy.

Different Types of Hand Trucks and Dollies

The idea behind making a dolly is pretty straightforward, that is, to give you the user leverage and capacity to lift more items than he would if he were only using his physical strength. This concept has undergone several transformations and we now have: upright, folding and convertible versions.

Upright

This was the first iteration of a hand truck or dolly. An upright dolly or hand truck is often built using welded tubular steel material. The handles are usually an extension of the tubes that wrap around the top. These handles may have an extra middle loop or what people refer to as “P” or “D” handle or a pair of handles equipped with rubber grips to provide comfort. The latter additions ease the task of tilting or maneuvering the dolly in the user’s direction.

Also, upright dollies will have solid rubber wheels that are mounted on a plain axle. These wheels have ball bearings which ensure that the wheels roll smoothly. There’s also a simple platform added on the front section for loading items.

Pros

  • Has a basic yet functional design
  • Durable- can withstand a lot of abuse
  • Made of anti-rust coating of an epoxy powder to improve its durability
  • Capable of holding between 400 and 600 pounds of weight
  • Relatively cheap although the heavy-duty models are pricey

Cons

  • Bulky and heavy
  • Do not offer a lot of flexibility

Summary

If you’re looking for a tool that can help you do simple heavy lifting, a dolly is your best alternative. Its design has not changed much from the original version, so it still serves the main purpose that it’s supposed to. It can also withstand abuse, giving you years of service.

Folding

One distinct feature of folding dollies is that they’re made of aluminum alloy. The handle is also an extension of the frame loop. The wheels are much smaller than those found on traditional hand trucks although they also have solid rubber.

Pros

  • Both the wheels and nose are designed to fold flat. If you factor in the telescopic handle, you end up with an incredibly compact tool
  • Saves on storage space and is easier to transport
  • Boasts a lightweight design
  • The aluminum alloy is rust-resistant so it provides maximum durability
  • Affordable
  • Can accommodate up to 300 pounds of weight

Cons

  • Does not provide as much durability as a basic dolly
  • Personal models cannot lift too much weight; most of them can only lift about 150 pounds
  • Since it has smaller wheels, the dolly is much easier to navigate

Summary

The folding dolly is one of the more popular models because of the convenience and versatility it offers. You can toss it in the trunk, suspend it on a hook inside your garage or keep it in a cupboard.

Convertible

The key highlight of a convertible dolly is the fact that it can serve as an upright dolly or transformed into a four-wheeled platform for loading. In a bid to reduce weight, manufacturers of these dollies make the frames using plastic, which is usually in form of a nylon polymer strengthened with fiberglass. The steel-made toe plates are usually bolted to the frame. The handles, which may be telescopic or not, consist of a steel loop. As is the case with traditional upright dollies, the wheels on convertible dollies also constitute rubber tires. However, you may across high-end convertible dollies that use pneumatic tires. Also, these dollies have a second pair of wheels that are castor type.

Pros

  • They offer a great deal of flexibility
  • Can accommodate load weighing up to 700 pounds
  • Some have pneumatic tires
  • Lightweight design that makes them easily portable

Cons

  • The plastic frame does not offer the durability that a steel-made one would
  • Is not compact
  • The castor-wheels are not reliable

Summary

Since it mostly consists of a horizontal platform, a convertible dolly is able to hold up a lot of weight. Plus, such a platform offers more stability than other types of dollies. The only drawback is in the caster wheels since they are not designed to roll as easily as pneumatic or rubber ones do.

Furniture, Appliance or Box Dollies

Another common type of dolly is the furniture one. This one is mostly used to transport furniture, and it’s capable of supporting about 1000 pounds of weight. On the other hand, the appliance dolly is meant to transport heavy and bulky appliances but ones that require a lot of care. These include items like refrigerators, freezers, microwaves just to mention a few. The appliance dolly will usually have straps which help to secure the item in place. Lastly, a box dolly is designed to transport light objects like empty boxes.

Heavy Duty or standard Hand truck

We also have heavy duty or standard hand trucks. The standard hand trucks are suitable for small to medium-sized businesses that need to carry items weighing 600 pounds or less. Often, these dollies are constructed using aluminum, which is light enough but still sturdy in all the right places. Another boon to using aluminum in its build is that it’s easier to maneuver compared to those made of steel.

As for the heavy duty models, manufacturers use both steel and aluminum in their construction. And as the name suggests, such hand trucks are designed for heavier functions. In fact, they can support cargo of more than 600 pounds. The benefit of adding steel to its build is the fact that it offers durability.

What makes a good dolly?

The type of dolly will choose will mainly depend on how you plan to use it. Every day, tons of companies use these hand trucks to load and offload items and to transport them from one point to another. If you only have to move a few lightweight items, then a basic upright dolly will suffice.

But if you’re interested in an excellent all-rounder, the better option would be a foldable dolly. Not only will it help you move items around but it also saves on space. You can store it in your outdoor storage shed or keep it in the cupboard.

However, the most likely dolly that you’re likely to find in a business setting is the convertible type. If you have a hobby that involves moving items around, this dolly will come in handy. But, the best use for this dolly is in environments where individuals have to move multiple items at once.

What should you pay for a good hand truck or dolly?

There is no better time to be shopping for a hand truck or dolly, than now. The range of options available on the market is simply overwhelming. Usually, we ask consumers to steer clear of products that come with very low price tags. But this is not the case with dollies. Depending on your preference and planned purpose for the hand truck, you can get a folding or upright hand truck for as low as $30 to $60.

But if you want all the extras that come with dollies, you should be willing to part with a little more. For instance, not all dollies will have pneumatic tires, large weight capacity or the ability to transform into a horizontal platform. This is not to mean that you’ll end up spending a fortune. You can get a dolly with all these features for about $100.

There’s another class of dollies that come equipped with stair climbers. These ones are on the higher end of the price spectrum. For such models, expect to pay between $200 and $800. But even though they’re pricey, they are pretty strong.

Alternatively, you can purchase stair climber kits separately. These ones cost between $30 and $40. Although they seem cheaper, there’s one challenge in buying stair climber kits separately. Since they are just a bolt-on addition, they need to be operated manually as they rely on leverage rather than wheels.

Hand Trucks: What to Look For

Design

As stated earlier, there are three main variations of dollies- upright, convertible and specialty. The upright models are best suited for loads no heavier than 500 pounds. However, you may across some heavy-duty ones that support more than this. Convertible hand trucks usually have four wheels rather than the usual two. These trucks offer a lot of versatility since they can double up as carts when they’re laid in horizontal positions or as standard upright hand trucks. Plus, they carry a lot more weight than the convertible one. A specialty truck is one designed to carry a particular item. This could be a specific machinery, bags, and crates among others.

Construction

Different manufacturers use different materials when making hand trucks. The toughest ones are made using steel, a material that can withstand heavy loads without breaking apart. Aluminum trucks are also a great option as they are light but still sturdy enough to support bulky items. Often, you will find the aluminum bonded with other kinds of metals for reinforcement. And the good thing is that aluminum-made hand trucks are cheaper than steel ones.

If you intend to carry just a couple of lightweight items, you should consider going for a hand truck made of fiberglass or nylon. Such hand trucks are customized for light duties within the home or office.

Load Capacity

One aspect you should never forget to check when purchasing a hand truck is its load capacity. Every hand truck will have a tag indicating the maximum amount of weight that it can support. We recommend users not to exceed the stipulated load capacity as it can cause the truck to topple over or break. If this happens, you will lose your investment and you may even end up hurting yourself.

Portability

Even though a majority of hand trucks are fitted with wheels, you should still check their portability. For instance, if you’re going for a folding truck, ensure that it’s light and that it facilitates easy transport of cargo. Also, such a truck should be capable of folding up easily to save on storage space. Similarly, if you will be using the dolly in different terrains, consider going for dollies with all terrain wheels.

Basics for Moving Boxes

  • When arranging boxes on your dolly, ensure that they are straight and balanced. This way, they won’t tip over when you’re half-way through to your destination.
  • Ideally, the box at the top ought to be resting partially against the vertical section of your dolly. If it’s not, chances are, it’s going to slide off from the stack and hit you in the face.
  • On that note, the top box shouldn’t be too big that it hinders you from seeing what is ahead.

Basics for Moving Furniture

  • Before loading any of your furniture items onto the dolly, ensure you cover or wrap them up in furniture pads. Doing so is important as it ensures the metallic part of your dolly doesn’t scratch your furniture.
  • If you’re moving items like desks or horizontal dressers, consider placing them on the end. On the other hand, vertical dressers and other tall items ought to be hand-tricked upside down. But remember to check the contents inside these furniture items before altering their positions.
  • To prevent excessive strain, use your dolly not just to carry but also to lift the furniture item in question. However, check how the item sits on the dolly to prevent it from getting stuck in doorways.

Basics for Moving Heavy Appliances

  • If you’re placing a dryer or refrigerator onto the hand truck, ensure you hold it in such a way that its rear faces you. In doing so, the appliance’s weight is distributed evenly. This also helps to prevent the appliance from getting scratched.
  • When you unplug your appliance, remove the power cords and plugs from the floor so you don’t end up stepping on them. You can tape the electrical cables to the rear section of the appliance.
  • In some instances, heavy appliances are first wrapped before being loaded on dollies and hand trucks. Whether you wrap your appliance or not will depend on how you intend to lift it. If you plan to attack it from the rear, then you shouldn’t wrap it as this will make it difficult to hold.

Basics of Moving Your Dolly

  • When you want to place a piece of equipment or appliance on your dolly, just tip it slightly in the forward direction. This will help to slip the tool onto the dolly’s base underneath. Once you tip your dolly back onto its wheels, hold the front of the equipment and make sure that it tips backward with the dolly.
  • If you’re dealing with a stack of boxes, remember to apply sufficient downward force on the top box so as to keep the boxes in the middle section stable.
  • One thing that can help as you tilt heavy boxes onto the dolly is to place your foot on the bar so that it’s in between the dolly’s wheels to avoid any rollback.

Stairs

  • Moving a stack of boxes on a flight of stairs can seem intimidating even if you’re using dollies for stairs. But it doesn’t have to be. All you need to do is to roll the loaded dolly very gently down each step. Moving in a gentle manner prevents your cargo from bouncing off the dolly or hitting you accidentally.
  • When you come across obstacles like bumps or thresholds, roll straight over them. If you try to navigate it at angle, the dolly is likely to tip and so will the loaded items.
  • Ensure you don’t tilt the dolly too far backwards when you’re going down the stairs. If you tilt excessively, the wheels might skip one step and go to the next, creating unnecessary momentum.

Wrap Up

With a dolly, you can lift and transport items which would have been too heavy otherwise. Since most dollies have smooth-rolling wheels and ultra-durable frames, you can transport a ton of heavy machinery quickly, efficiently and safely.

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