What is Lightweight Pallet Racking?

Although we’ve mostly referred to our pallet rack systems as “heavy-duty,” “industrial,” or “high-capacity,” there are different weights of pallet racking for various storage purposes. If the racking holds loads of 2,000 lbs or less per level, it could be considered a lightweight pallet rack application. Higher capacity products would require medium or heavy-duty storage racking.

Light-Duty Pallet Rack Features

Both frame and beam size affect a rack system’s capacity and some other factors. Narrower frames with more slender columns will not be as strong as larger frames. Welding and the number of bends also play a part in frame capacity. 

Lightweight pallet rack with boxes

Likewise, smaller profile beams support smaller capacities. Shorter beams are at less risk of beam deflection than long, thin beams, which may bow out under heavier loads. See our Beam Capacity Guide for more on beam deflection and capacity ratings.

Lightweight Pallet Rack Products

Tri-Boro lightweight pallet rack frames

Light-duty pallet rack frame example

Pieces can be mixed and matched within any pallet rack application to meet different weight loads. For instance, these light-duty 24″ x 72″ Tri-Boro uprights have 3″ x 1.625″ columns and a 15,220 lb capacity rating.

Heavy-duty pallet rack frame example

In contrast, this Teardrop 48”D x 192”H Steel King frame has 3″ x 3″ columns and a much higher capacity of 26,390 lbs. Larger, heftier pallet racking offers more substantial storage options.

The 24″ x 72″ upright could be used for light-duty storage rack applications and would be hand stacked more often than not. The 48″ x 192″ upright would be used in a warehouse to store pallets accessed only by forklifts.

Steel King heavy-duty frame

These frames can be paired with lighter or heavier-duty beams to alter the system’s capacity or strengthened with extra bracing, bolts, welding, etc. It’s important to note that storage facilities must adhere to local codes and warehouse safety standards. For warehouses that utilize a forklift, heavier frames are always recommended to protect against forklift damage and for safety reasons.

When to Use Lightweight Pallet Racking

Low-capacity warehouse storage

Lightweight racking can serve many purposes. For example, small businesses or warehouses that stock lighter products like cardboard or T-shirts don’t need heavy-duty pallet racking like a steel manufacturing warehouse would. Even if these light products reside on pallets, the capacity will still be low enough to use a lightweight system. 

Hand-stacked products

Light-duty storage systems are perfect for hand-stacked products in boxes or crates. If the product doesn’t need a forklift to move, it probably doesn’t need a 5,000 lb capacity rating per shelf. 

Garage racking

One common use for lightweight pallet racking is in garages. Garage racking rarely needs to hold extremely heavy loads so lightweight rack applications are a great fit. Lightweight racking also takes up less physical space since the columns, frames, and beams tend to be more narrow — this is great for garages or smaller storage spaces. 

Cost of Lightweight Pallet Racking

The less raw material (steel) a pallet rack frame or beam uses, the less expensive it is. Since lightweight pallet racking is generally smaller, it also costs less. It does come with lower capacity ratings which, in many cases, isn’t an option. However, lightweight racking is more than enough for a wide range of low-capacity products. 

To keep spending as low as possible, many customers will underestimate or round down when it comes to rack capacity and their storage needs. But warehouse safety is essential, and city/county warehouse safety standards play a part in capacity requirements. 

At PRN, we recommend taking the safe route with a slightly higher rack capacity than anticipated. This way, our clients avoid unforeseen beam deflection or storage limitations in the future.

To learn more about pallet rack capacity and what weight racking will best fit your storage needs, call us at 888-578-1578 or get a quote today!

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