Comparing and contrasting: tower crane vs mobile crane

When it comes to construction projects, cranes play an indispensable role in lifting and moving heavy materials. 

But do you know the difference between a tower crane and a mobile crane? How do you choose between the two? 

Understanding the differences between a tower crane vs mobile crane is essential. While both serve the fundamental purpose of hoisting loads, they differ significantly in terms of design, functionality, and applications. 

In this blog, we will seek to understand their unique features and when to use each.

Design and structure

Let’s start with the most striking difference between these two cranes – their design and structure.

Tower cranes

A tower crane stands tall amid construction sites. 

It is typically fixed to the ground on a concrete base and features a vertical mast that extends upwards. 

The Mast, with a jib at the end, can rotate 360 degrees, offering a vast working radius. 

Tower cranes are known for their impressive height and can reach freestanding heights of over 265 feet (80 metres) or even more when tied into structures. 

This verticality allows them to operate at great heights, making them ideal for skyscraper construction.

Mobile cranes

On the other hand, a mobile crane is more versatile in terms of mobility. 

These cranes are mounted on wheels or tracks, allowing them to move around the construction site and even on public roads. 

Mobile cranes have a telescopic boom that can extend and retract, providing varying reach lengths. 

While they may not reach the towering heights of tower cranes, they can still handle significant loads and reach heights up to 400 feet (121 metres) or more, depending on the model.

Interested? At Fortis Heavy Lift Group, we have a range of different cranes for hire, including tower cranes and mobile cranes. Find out more here. 


The primary function of both tower cranes and mobile cranes is to lift and move heavy objects, but they do so in different ways.

Tower cranes are best suited for projects that require consistent lifting at great heights. They are commonly used in the construction of high-rise buildings, where the need to lift heavy construction materials to upper floors is constant. 

Mobile cranes, as their name suggests, excel in mobility. They can be quickly transported to various parts of a construction site, making them ideal for projects with frequently changing lifting locations. 

Mobile cranes are versatile and can handle a wide range of tasks, from lifting heavy machinery to placing materials on rooftops. They are often used for road and bridge construction, as well as in industrial settings where versatility is key.

If you are unsure which crane you require then Fortis Heavy Lift Group can offer advice to help you choose the best crane for your project. Contact us for more information. 

Cost and efficiency

The choice between a tower crane and a mobile crane also involves financial considerations and efficiency.

Tower cranes are often more expensive to install and maintain due to their fixed structure and the need for a dedicated concrete base. 

However, they are highly efficient for long-term projects that require continuous lifting at great heights. The initial investment can be justified by their productivity and lifting capacity.

Mobile cranes, while more cost-effective in terms of setup, may incur additional transportation costs if they need to be moved between sites frequently. 

They shine in projects that require flexibility and quick setup times, allowing for cost savings in the short term.

Tower crane vs mobile crane 

In the debate of tower cranes vs mobile cranes, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. 

The choice depends on the specific requirements of the construction project. At Fortis Heavy Lift Group, we can offer advice and guidance on which crane is best for your project. 

Ultimately, the decision should prioritise safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. 

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