Hoists are a crucial piece of equipment in many industries, and there are many different types. Uncover them in this guide to the various types of hoists.

Hoists are used to lift and move heavy objects and support hanging loads; they’re critical pieces of equipment in many operations. Manufacturing facilities, logging camps, construction sites, and auto repair shops all use hoists to aid in everyday tasks. Hoists are used to lift and lower heavy cargo, construction tools and equipment, and vehicle engines.

Because of the overwhelming need for hoists in so many diverse applications, manufacturers have created different types of hoists to better meet the needs of each application. To better understand the existing options, we’ve come up with a complete guide to the various types of hoists.

The Different Types of Hoists

In order to understand the different types of hoists, it’s important to first recognize the differentiating factors behind each device. These factors include

  • Lifting Type
  • Operation Type
  • Suspension Type

A hoist’s lifting type, or lifting medium, is what lifts the hoist. This component is usually wire rope or chain, including welded link load chains and roller load chains. However, hydraulic and rack-and-pinion hoists are also common. The operation type refers to how the hoist operates. This can be manual, electric, or pneumatic. The suspension type refers to how the hoist is mounted or suspended. Not all hoists are suspended from above. Car hoists and construction hoists are two examples of floor-mounted hoists. This includes hook mounted, lug-mounted, and trolley mounted hoists. Hoists can range from one hundred pounds to the hundreds of thousands such as those found in mining or headframe applications.

From these factors, the names of different hoists are born. The names of each hoist are listed in the complete guide to the various types of hoists below.

When Is a Hoist considered a Crane?

A hoist becomes a crane when its purposes is to not only to lift materials but to do so in many different directions. A hoist lifts materials up and down, and may move along a second axis, which is usually affixed along a trolley beam. In comparison, a crane almost always moves along three axes, such as left, right, up, down, and forward and backward. Examples include a tower crane or a gantry crane.


Hand chain manual hoists, or manual hoists, are operated by hand. The operator pulls and releases the ratchet or hand chain-operated lifting device to lift and lower the hoist. These hoists feature a welded link load or roller load chain and use two different chains—one to lift and lower and one to support the overall load. Manual hoists for heavier applications may include multiple hand chains and, thus, require multiple operators. The majority of manual hoists are chain-link.

The benefits of manual hoists are numerous. They’re more initially affordable and are easy to transport from location to location. However, these hoists are not without fault. They require quite a bit of manual labor to lift heavy loads and, because they are powered by people, can take a longer time to lift loads than an electric or pneumatic hoist.


Electric, pneumatic, and hydraulic hoists are lifted and lowered by an operator through the use of a control device similar to remote control. Depending on the device, some controls are installed in the cab of a crane. Electric hoists are also outfitted with safety mechanisms including an emergency stop option.

Powered hoists feature a variety of benefits. Because they’re operated by machines rather than people, they can lift loads faster than manual hoists and have a greater lifting capacity.

Rack and Pinion

Rack and pinion, or material hoists, are versatile construction hoists favored around the world. These hoists are considered safer than wire rope hoists and can be used reliably on scaffold structures. UCEL offers a variety of rack and pinion hoists, each of which:

  • Are quiet to operate.
  • Have a wide range of sizes and site footprints.
  • Have varying power requirements, some much lower than conventional offerings from other companies.
  • Are easy and fast to install.


These hoists are suspended by a hook, which is on either a trolley’s suspension pin, clevis, or a device that has been mounted on a piece of structural framework. These hoists are most often lifted via welded link load or roller load chain. There are a variety of hook-mounted hoists, including manual, electric, and pneumatic models.


Virtually any type of hoist can be a lug-mounted hoist. These components feature lug mounting attached to the hoist’s frame and are suspended from a trolley, beam, or structural framework, such as inside a headframe or machine room above a hoisting well.


This category includes all hoists that can be mounted from a trolley. Hoists can be suspended from a variety of trolleys including

  • Plain Trolleys: they move heavy loads in applications where movement is sporadic or brief.
  • Manual Trolleys: they are hand-operated to move loads back and forth.
  • Electric and Pneumatic Trolleys: they move loads back and forth via remote control, similar to electric and pneumatic hoists.

What To Consider When Choosing a Hoist

When it comes time to invest in a vertical hoist, an owner or operator must consider a range of factors so they can ensure a wise purchase. Some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a hoist are:

  • Operating Time and Usage. If the hoist is going to be used frequently and for long periods of time, an electric hoist may not be the best option because of its vulnerability to overheating. Manual hoists may also be a poor option due to the amount of physical exertion required of the operator.
  • Travel Distance. If loads need to be carried long distances or at fast speeds, the trolley should be considered. Certain trolleys cannot handle certain types of loads.
  • The Operator. If the operator cannot operate a manual hoist, a different type of hoist should be chosen instead.
  • Lifting Capacity. If the hoist’s lifting capacity is greater than the supportive structure’s weight capacity, a hoist with a lesser lifting capacity should be chosen instead.
  • New Versus Used. Depending on the budget, a used hoist may be a better option than a new one. In this case, it is important to fully inspect any used or refurbished hoist before purchasing. To ensure that the used hoist is compatible with your application, try to obtain the serial number to gain a complete understanding of the hoist’s specifications and limitations.

Understanding the Important Attributes of a Hoist

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or ASME, compiled a list of standards for each important attribute of a hoist. These attributes are applicable to all of the different types of hoists.

  • Lift Capacity: The maximum weight a hoist can support.
  • Line Material: The line material is the way in which a load is lifted (chain, wire rope, cable).
  • Power Source: The power source is the method in which a load is lifted (manual, electric, pneumatic, hydraulic).
  • Suspension Type: The suspension type is how a hoist is suspended (by hook, mounted suspension device, or trolley).
  • Lift Height: The distance from the load hook at its highest point to the lowest point.
  • Lift Speed: The rate of speed at which a hoist can lift a load.

For more information about hoists, contact a UCEL representative. UCEL is a renowned construction hoist and industrial elevator manufacturer, dealer, and renter.


A Complete Guide To the Various Types of Hoists