If you run a business that regularly involves working at significant heights, such as a window cleaning or gutter installation service, installing a ladder rack on your van or utility vehicle is an excellent way to save valuable cargo space and make loading and unloading your precious ladders both quicker and easier. However, getting the most from your new ladder rack means choosing the right rack for the job, and this means choosing what your rack will be made from.
Though there are a few light-duty ladder racks out there made out of durable plastics, the vast majority of ladder racks suitable for commercial applications are made from either steel or aluminum. Aluminium is a particularly popular choice, and for good reason, as this unique metal has many advantages over steel when used to craft ladder racks. However, aluminium racks also have a few shortcomings when compared to steel racks, so be sure to familiarise yourself with the properties of aluminium ladder racks before you invest in them.
What are the advantages of aluminium ladder racks?
The chief advantage of choosing an aluminium ladder rack over a steel equivalent is never having to worry about rust. Aluminium is completely corrosion-proof, even without protective paints and coatings. This means your ladder rack can be left attached to your van in all weathers, even if your van is parked in an sheltered position outside of business hours, without having to worry about rust undermining the strength and security your rack provides.
If you do decide to detach your ladder rack when it isn't needed, the lightness of aluminium when compared to steel means an aluminium rack can be detached and reattached swiftly and easily, even if you use large vans with high clearances. Lightness also makes readjusting your rack easier if you have to carry unusually large or small ladders for a job, and minimises the effects extra weight can have on your van's fuel economy.
What about the disadvantages of aluminium ladder racks?
Aluminium ladder racks are more than capable of carrying heavy duty ladders from place to place securely, but when compared to steel racks they are comparatively lacking in strength. This is only really a problem if you routinely carry multiple heavy-duty ladders on your van, but it does also mean that your rack is slightly more vulnerable to dents and scrapes caused by clumsy ladder handling.
Aluminium ladder racks also tend to be slightly more expensive than their steel counterparts, and fitting aluminum racks to an expansive fleet of commercial vans can be costly.