Hoist buying guide

Hoist buying guide

Michael, Professional and passionate welder, Sheffield

Guide written by:

Michael, Professional and passionate welder, Sheffield

73 guides

A hoist can be manual, electric, pneumatic or hydraulic. With the manual models, the hoist is composed chains and can include a lever. It allows to lift loads of 500 kg, 2 tons, 3 t or 5 t. The electric hoist offers more comfort and is often move on a trolley. It can efficiently lift and lower loads with precise accuracy.

Important features

  • Manual, electric, pneumatic or hydraulic
  • Lifting capacity
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What is a hoist?


All of us have needed to lift heavy loads one day or another and have required ingenuity to do so. When pulleysrope and your buddies' help are insufficient, only one  single tool can solve all your lifiting problems: the hoist.

Its very simple handling and its very affordable price have made it a universal equipment. It has become an essential tool for craftsmen, masons, garage owners and savvy do-it-yourselfers.

Because of the its basic operation, the hoist - which does not require power supply in its manual form - can be used in heavily congested areas. Hooked up to a wall or any other reliable structure, it can raise a heavy weight that a person could simply not handle.

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What are the different types of hoists?

Manual chain hoist


A genius inventor had the idea to unite Archimedes' ancient hoist in a single block consisting of two distinctpulley blocks to create a compact tool that considerably reduces the minimum space requirement for the installation (reduced height).

A pulley is controlled by a never-ending chain leads a secondpulley, which receives the chain and the lift hook. To implement the hoist, a removable hook with a safety strip is attached to the top of the hoist.

Depending on the force, the multiplication is can be more or less significant. A 2 tonne force hoist requires many more rotations of the first pulley than a 500 kg force model.

A manual chain hoist can be equipped with a lever and is then referred to as a leverhoist. This addition facilitates the lifting action because it reduces the generated stress. The lightest hoists can be mounted with rope or nylon wire instead of the chain.

Manual hoist from 0.5 to 6 tons

It is advisable not to exceed the force displayed on the hoist's housing. Have that CE marking is mandatory and periodic inspections are crucial, under penalty of liability in case of accident. The lifting height is 3 to 6 mon average. For higher heights a special model is required. Other than adding slings to extend the maneuvering height, do not "tinker" with the lifting chain, you might regret it.

Maintenance of the hoist

A hoist requires no special maintenance except for the periodic lubrication of the mechanical parts - oil usage. Treat it with the respect it deserves as a safety tool.

Advice for use

Imagine this: a delicate lifting is in progress, the load is suspended to the hoist and you need it to go up or down by a few millimeters. If you're unsure of which side of the chain to pull, take it in hand and look at the control pulley, is it on your side? Then left hand is for the down and right hand is for up! It's just that simple!

Electric hoist


Designed along the same operating principles, an electric control replaces the chain actuator.

The electric hoist associated with an electric transport trolley is often found on stationary work stations. Nevertheless, heavy lifting is still part of any hoist's operation. In fact, handling a 6t manual chain hoist requires putting in some time in the weight room!

The electric control includes a box with several controls:

  • Rapid lifting;
  • Rapid descent;
  • Slow lifting;
  • Slow descent;
  • emergency stop.

At the base of the lifting block there is usually a very practical chain receptacle box which avoid any slack in the lift chain's while not to clutter the handling area.

The electric cable winch is sometimes also referred to as an electric hoist. To keep it simple, technically any lifting device featuring vertical action could be labeled a hoist .

A chain hoist should not pull loads horizontally, otherwise the mechanism may be damaged. The manual winch, the electric winch but also the  pull-out winch, are more suitable for this mission, as they are equipped with a larger reserve of cable .

Pneumatic hoist

Same operating principle as the chain hoist, but requires a compressor, controlled with a button box.


It is silent, explosion proof and can therefore be used in a polluted and special atmosphere such as paint booths, solvent factories, pyrotechnic centers, wetlands and dusty areas. It operates at 6 bars of pressure and has an air consumption rate ranging from 4 to 6 m 3/h.

Pneumatic hoists are often found on assembly lines, preferred over the electric model because of its high lifting speed and its 100% duty factor; Small amout or no reduced height. Try to request ATEX certified models (explosive atmospheres) if required.


Handling it is more delicate due to the jerks associated with compressed air control. Several tests or practice runs will be required to master it's use. Air filters also need to be cleaned regularly.

Hydraulic hoist  

It can be used under the same conditions as the pneumatic hoist. Increased lifting force, quiet and boasting progressive controls, it is ideal for jobs requiring precise and smooth positioning. As the name suggests, the hydraulic hoist requires a group or hydraulic source nearby. Relatively small reduction in height.

The required investment is more sizeable, because of its operating principle. The hydraulic hoist is mostly found in factories but farmers and loggers sometimes combine it with their tractor's power take-off.

Accessories for hoists

Operating a hoist involves the use of slings or lifting and hanging chains.

One single guideline to accessories: everything must be compatible with the hoist's strength and in very good condition.

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Slings or lifting and hanging chains

Safety and use advice


Carefully read the operating instructions which will specify the load limits and maintenance guidelines.

Check the load plate for the maximum effective capacity of the hoist, which must never be exceeded.

A sticker recalls the need to respect the usage instructions and the lubrication requirements of the chain. Do not grease the handling chain, it will not do you any good!Always use protective gloves with chain hoists.

This final bit is never repeated enough: in absolutely no situation should you use the hoist to raise a person to access a desired point! Also, avoid remaining under the device and always remember that the responsibility always lies with the user.

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More information

Have a big object to move? A tree to de-root? An assemble line to run? Follow the links below for related accessories, advice from our editors and more helpful guides:

And to work safely:

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Guide written by:

Michael, Professional and passionate welder, Sheffield, 73 guides

Michael, Professional and passionate welder, Sheffield

I was trained as a pipe worker and a pipe-welder and after having traveled for 35 years working around the UK, I became the head a metal shop and then a designer and in the end the head engineer. I have designed and built a workshop where I make metal sculptures: I managed to find a piece of paradise where I can to let my imagination run wild. Auctions and garage sales are no secret to me. I find unusual objects and old tools there that I collect or transform into works of art. I also like decoration, painting on canvas, and gardening. I am developing new technologies concerning tools. To share my passion and humbly advise you in your choice of materials is a real pleasure.

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