A bigger wheel is easier to push. Assuming all things are equal.

The simple answer to whether a bigger industrial caster wheel will be easier to push than a smaller wheel is “Yes.”  However, this is assuming all things are equal.

There are several factors that can change the effort with which a caster will roll.

Wheel size, materials, bearings, and swivel lead.

The main factors within the caster itself that determine the push/pull force it takes to move a caster are the wheel size, the material your wheel is made from, the type of bearings inside your wheel, and the length of the swivel lead.

If size were the only thing that mattered, increasing wheel diameter will always improve ergonomics. The other component to increasing ergonomics (based purely on size) is to decrease the width of the wheel.  This creates the smallest footprint (the surface area the wheel is contacting) possible to reduce push/pull force.

There are obvious limiting factors because of the physics involved. For example, it’s not possible to produce a 2-foot diameter polyurethane wheel that is a ¼ inch wide while manually maneuvering a load capacity of thousands of pounds.

Hard polyurethanes can improve testing on smaller wheels.

T/R 85A

T/R 85 tread is ideal for applications that require industrial strength with a softer touch.

The next factor that improves upon ergonomic push/pull force is the materials that go into producing your caster. Testing has proven that harder polyurethanes such as our 85A or our tear-resistant 95A T/R materials can improve ratings when used in wheels with a smaller diameter.

Kingpin vs. Kingpinless casters can also cause differences in push/pull forces. A kingpin swivel caster may have spikes in the force used to move it due to the load all being carried on the kingpin. With a kingpinless caster, the weight is dispersed over the ball bearings that float freely in the raceway. And by using maintenance-free bearings, dirt and debris cannot get into the bearings because they are sealed, a benefit that helps maintain ergonomics over time.

Using dual wheels instead of a single larger wheel.

Another way to improve upon push/pull force or ease of movement when a heavy-duty load is present is to use dual wheel casters instead of a single wheel. The heavier the load the harder it is for a wheel to roll and to swivel. When that weight is distributed across more wheels evenly it will reduce the friction and the floor scrubbing that is caused when a caster swivels. Dual wheels can also help carry heavier loads at lower heights which can help provide a safer workplace

Companies are taking advantage of using larger wheels on manually maneuvered carts. These larger caster wheels allow for improved ergonomics and reduced push/pull forces. Some of you may be thinking, “why does that really matter?” It matters greatly when it comes to avoiding workplace injuries. Better casters mean fewer injuries and fewer comp claims.  In some cases, using the correct caster can lead to a 50% decrease in push/pull force. When carts are easier to move, employees are not getting tired and injured due to exerting as much energy to move the cart. These efficiencies also lead to a better return on investment.