Construction lifts vary in size and weight capacity. They are used on the construction site as a means to lift supplies and personnel, sometimes together and sometimes separate, depending on the design. When choosing a construction lift, the needs of the hoist must be clear so the right one is chosen for the job. A construction lift not created to handle the weight which it will be used for could put personnel in danger, leaving an entire job in jeopardy.

Is It a Construction Elevator, Hoist or Lift?

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The term hoist can refer to the terms buck hoist, platform, man lift, or industrial elevator and are all different types of construction hoists that serve the same purpose—to transport materials vertically. Each can handle different loads depending on the size and strength. However, not all can carry personnel.

No matter the name it is given, a hoist or lift must be able to fulfill its position safely. Space available, weight limits, and even the weather are all factors in choosing the appropriate construction site hoist.

How Do They Work?

Construction lifts are designed to carry loads vertically and come in all sizes, depending on the workload.

Often a construction hoist is made up of one or more cage or car and can be operated by a lift-wheel or drum mechanism using rope or chain. More often, today’s lifts move with a rack and pinion system to carry objects or people up and down vertically and can be powered with gas, electric, or pressurized air systems, and sometimes even manually.

Types of Construction Elevators


General Construction Elevators

General construction lifts provide lift assistance in both, mid-rise to high-rise construction job sites. Often in the form of an industrial elevator or manlift, they can carry anywhere from hundreds to thousands of pounds of both material and personnel. General is simply a term lumping most basic construction lifts, hoists and industrial elevators together.

Material Hoists

Just as it sounds, material hoists will carry construction site materials as needed, but not personnel. They can be used in small spaces carrying lighter weight when necessary, and larger hoists for large spaces are typically made to handle thousands of pounds. Although it can be tempting, if a hoist is made for materials only, never combine it with personnel.

Traction Hoists

Traction hoists work with suspended scaffolding to raise and lower the scaffolding. These are smaller and can be easily moved around the job site for use in different areas. They are created in varying sizes with different weight capacities.

Industrial Lift or Man-Lift

An industrial elevator has more intricate parts and possible abilities as opposed to a basic construction site lift. Because of this, they are most often specifically designed for a particular job or location. Able to carry both materials and personnel makes them an excellent and useful choice for the construction site.


The man-lift will consist of a car, often a cage, and a tower, and are run by a rack and pinion design. This design makes them efficient and perfect for maintenance situations and lower-traffic areas. Because man-lifts are sturdy, they are best for transporting personnel safely.

Additions To the Basic Man-Lift

For added safety, there are mechanisms that can be built into the construction man-lift. Alarm systems for emergencies, telephones, and emergency lowering mechanisms are all additional possibilities to keep the man-lift safely running and personnel protected should a quick exit be necessary, along with emergency and over-load warnings for protection.

Special Purpose Industrial Lifts

Designed with special purposes in mind, the special purpose industrial lift can serve unusual or complicated environments.

Chemical Environments

Choose wisely when choosing your construction hoist manufacturer. Materials used are important in the life of your industrial elevator and the safety of your personnel and require even more protection and durability in chemical environments. When built with the proper material, the construction elevator will be able to withstand chemical and harsh weather environments which can both be a part of a construction site.

Hazardous Environment

Working in a hazardous environment such as a refinery, mine, or storage facility with hazardous substances requires a special purpose industrial elevator to keep personnel safe. When choosing a lift for such an environment, be sure it is built and designed with these hazards in mind.

Transport Platforms

The transform platform leaves a smaller carbon footprint as it requires less power than the traditional construction hoist, making it a great choice if it can serve the needed purpose. The platform can offer just as much weight capacity as an equal construction hoist and is built out of the same materials.

They are quieter, easy to install, require no crane, and are generally offered at a lower cost than the traditional hoist.

To Rent or Buy Your Construction Elevator?

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Keep in mind that names will be used interchangeably as you consider the different types of construction lifts and that costs will vary greatly. What matters is finding the hoist that works best for your situation, as well as finding it at a price you can afford.

Determining whether to rent or purchase a hoist will depend on what the company can afford and how long the lift is needed. Also, whether or not the construction lift will be used again makes a difference in making a decision. For a temporary situation that will end shortly, construction hoist rental is probably best. For a skyscraper that will take years to complete, a purchase will probably be necessary.

Speak with knowledgeable construction hoist manufacturer experts when it is time to make a decision. UCEL, Inc specializes in all your construction lift needs. The choice between a safe and reliable industrial elevator, man-lift, or platform is not one to be taken lightly. Only the best materials and quality construction are acceptable when it comes to construction site safety. At UCEL, we stand behind our name and our excellent reputation speaks for itself. You can trust us to work together with your company to come up with the best construction elevators to suit your project and needs.

The Different Types of Construction Hoists