For local governments, street cleaning is an essential part of infrastructure maintenance, supporting the beautification of their city while promoting cleaner air and water by removing particles and‌ potential pollutants from community roads.

It might surprise you to know that the first form of mechanical street sweeper was patented all the way back in 1843 in London, and made its way to the U.S. about a decade later. Then, in 1911, the first motorized sweeper was introduced.

Today, street sweeping equipment ‌is modern, effective, and essential to infrastructure maintenance. Municipalities even have the choice between diesel and electric sweeping machines, which this resource is about. 

Let’s get into the key differences and how you can make more informed decisions based on your community’s needs and sustainability goals.

Diesel vs. Electric Street Sweeping Equipment Comparison

When you boil it down, the key differences between a diesel sweeper and an electric one aren’t much different than those of cars. But it’s in those contrasts that you’ll discover how effective they can be in certain situations.

Electric Street Sweeper Benefits

  • Zero fuel consumption, which can significantly reduce operational costs
  • An eco-friendly solution that reduces carbon emissions
  • Impressively quieter operation, perfect for any public-facing projects

Electric Street Sweeper Disadvantages

  • Although there is growth in the area, power does not match that of diesel machines
  • Battery life can impact the range of the equipment as it relies on recharge stations

Diesel Sweeper Benefits

  • Power and performance, perfect for large areas or more demanding jobs
  • Better torque at low speeds helps with the stop-and-go nature of street-sweeping

Diesel Sweeper Disadvantages

  • Large fuel consumption impacts operational cost and the environment
  • Diesel engine contributes to the high price tag on air and noise pollution
Men working with Truvac HXX hydrovac
Elgin Whirlwind Street Sweeper
Elgin Whirlwind Street Sweeper
Men working with Truvac HXX hydrovac

The Bottom Line: Electric Sweeping Equipment and Benefits to Sustainability

While diesel-powered sweepers still hold relevance for larger, tougher jobs, the fact is that electric sweepers can take on many municipal jobs effectively while reducing contributions to noise and air pollution. 

Consider switching to electric sweepers for municipal and even industrial jobs to reach sustainability goals including:

  • Zero Emissions
  • Reduced Noise Pollution
  • Powered by Renewable Energy
  • Improved Public Health

Meeting Sustainability Goals with Electric Street Sweeping Equipment

In a 2021 press release, the New York City Department of Sanitation unveiled its plan to convert much of its infrastructure maintenance equipment to electric. They estimated that one diesel-powered sweeper travels 7,000 miles per year, and forecasted that a switch to an all-electric model would save about 89 metric tons of carbon emissions, or the equivalent of 19 cars, per year. 

Their inaugural product, a less powerful version of the Elgin Broom Bear, was introduced to Brooklyn Bushwick Borough.

Although sustainable machines can have a larger upfront cost, the NYDS turned to State and Federal funding available to municipalities across the U.S. to encourage them to convert to emissions-free equipment like the Broom Bear.

Be sure to connect with stakeholders, experts, and your community to receive feedback and support on sustainability initiatives. 

Assessing the needs of your municipality is the first step toward making the same strides for your community. By creating a plan, you’re setting goals that can be achieved with the right support and the right equipment.

Electric Street Sweeping Equipment to Buy in 2024

Before we jump into browsing for electric street sweeping equipment, let’s discuss sweeper types, their specs, and their specific applications. 

Compact electric sweepers 

If you’ve ever had to hop off the sidewalk to let a street sweeper drive past you, you were looking at a compact street sweeper. And that’s what mini electric sweepers are built for; Small or tight spaces, sidewalks, and even small warehouses.

Like full-sized sweepers, compacts are durable and effective despite some being a mere 48 inches wide.

Full-size electric sweepers

Full-sized sweepers are tasked with large and tough jobs that need the power and endurance of an industrial-level machine. These sweepers tackle projects like roads, highways, industrial cleaning, construction sites, and any large space that needs extra horsepower.

These larger sweepers reduce noise, are emissions-free, and can stack up to the torque and horsepower of their diesel counterparts.

Hybrid-electric sweepers

Contractors and municipalities who want the best of both worlds choose hybrid sweepers. They’re popular alternatives to fully electric machines because they don’t solely rely on batteries as a fuel source, which is important in a pinch for extended jobs.

Both compacts and full-sized street sweepers, like the Broom Bear, have hybrid models offering flexibility and enhanced sustainability to municipalities and contractors alike.

Best Electric Street Sweeping Equipment to Buy in 2024

We’ve quickly mentioned two of our star products, the Broom Bear electric and hybrid electric models. We suggest you highlight their specs since they’re our baseline for quality, sustainability, and value.

Elgin Electric Broom Bear Sweeper

Type: 100% Electric

Battery: Lithium Ion Phosphate

Engine: 300 Horsepower BorgWarner Cascadia

Torque: 1,700 ft lbs.

The Broom Bear is built for power and maneuverability. Its battery has a 5-year warranty and is designed to take 2500 full charging cycles. All that on top of it being quieter, cheaper to maintain, and 100% emissions-free.

Elgin Hybrid-Electric Broom Bear Sweeper

The hybrid-electric Bear’s powerful, battery-powered 44’ brooms take a bite out of fuel consumption and can even be charged on the go. It uses a lithium-ion battery and can come with a standard diesel or compressed natural gas fuel intake.

The hybrid has the same speed and performance as the standard model and can seamlessly switch from hybrid to conventional modes.

Electric Street Sweeping Equipment Benefits for Contractors

The shift to electric equipment is gaining a lot of steam. With a new generation entering municipal management, a focus on more sustainable solutions will become an increasingly important focus. So contractors, here’s what’s in it for you.

Reduced operational costs. The lower overall cost of maintenance coupled with not having to add fuel costs to your bottom line make the switch to electric an attractive one. 

Grants and funding. Speaking of cost, Federal and State incentives can help offset the upfront cost of your first unit. As mentioned above, you can view the grants on our website.

Competitive advantage. Municipalities have sustainability goals, and leaning into eco-friendly solutions can help you stand out from competitors when bidding on projects.

More uptime and access. Access to low-emission zones and a larger operational window in noise-sensitive areas are great perks of renting or owning an electric street sweeper.

Electric Street Sweeping Equipment Benefits for Municipalities

If you have your own public works department, switching to electric street sweepers can include many of the above-mentioned benefits. But some benefits go far beyond dollars and cents, and arguably more important ones. 

Improves public health. Electric equipment contributes heavily to lowering noise pollution, greenhouse emissions, and improving the general air quality of communities.

Energy independence. Lowering reliance on pricey and environmentally toxic fossil fuels is part of many citywide initiatives for sustainability. 

Enhances community image. More and more, citizens are concerned with eco-friendly vehicles. Introducing responsible and sustainable solutions fosters more positive relations between governments and citizens.

Engagement and education. Getting on board with emissions-free equipment adoption creates open dialogue with people and creates opportunities for continued education on the value of sustainable solutions.

Last year, Los Angeles City Council member Bob Blumenfield unveiled the city’s first electric street sweeper in its effort to hit its goal of being 100% clean energy by 2035. The move has enhanced public opinion and created several educational opportunities about sustainability.

Continuing your Education Toward Sustainable Infrastructure Management Equipment

At Joe Johnson Equipment, we pride ourselves on providing clean water, clean air, and clean streets to communities across the United States. We rent, sell, and offer training on traditional and emissions-free street sweepers, industrial equipment, hydro-excavators, and sewer equipment.

We partner with contractors, municipalities, and brands that have a quality-first approach, and put safety and sustainability at the forefront of innovation.

Visit our website for more, or if you’re interested in staying on top of our latest news, please follow us on our socials.