Chain Hoist

Posted by Jon F on

Chain HoistFiguring out which type of chain hoist you require in a given application isn't always the easiest thing to do, especially if you haven't used one in the past. Before you decide which chain hoist is right for you, electric chain hoist, lever chain hoist, manual chain hoist, or air chain hoist, take into consideration the specifications mentioned below:

  • Beam Type: Common beam types include the I-beam, WF-beam, or Patented Track beam. Knowing the type of beam you intend to install your chain hoist on is paramount to ensure the trolley wheels roll and operate properly. 
  • Capacity: This equals the total weight you want to lift with your hoist. Manufacturers vary, and you will need to round up to the nearest quarter, half, or full ton when you purchase a hoist.
  • PB Drop - Cable Length of Pendant Control: Measured in feet, this is the length for how far you prefer the hand control to hang in relation to the position of the chain hoist. Industry standard PB drop equals 4' less than the amount of lift, however these can easily be changed without a large cost difference.  
  • Lift: To determine the amount of lift, you will need to measure from the beam you intend to hang the hoist on, down to the item you intend to lift. That measurement will be known as your amount of lift. 
  • Power Source: Most industrial applications will use 3-phase power, 230/3/60, 430/3/60 etc... Using single phase power such as the power in the average home 115/1/60 is possible, but it will limit certain capacities, and motorized trolley options. Control voltage, the voltage you will send to the handheld pendant of the chain hoist will also need to be decided. This is typically either 24-volt or 115-volt.
  • Speed: This is usually in part dictated by the capacity chosen. Users accustomed to working with a chain hoist often have a preferred lift speed, but people new to using this type of equipment can benefit from some industry guidance. A standard chain hoist can move between 2 and 64 feet per minute.
  • Suspension Type: Two options to choose from include hook mount and lug-mount suspension. With the first type, the chain hoist has a hook installed on the top of its housing. That hook will hook-into a hole on either a wheeled trolley or a stationary beam clamp. If you have limited headroom to operate your hoist in, the lug suspension method is probably best. This will allow the hoist hang closer to the beam than a hook mount.  
  • Trolley Type: Chain hoists trolley options include plain, geared, and motorized. A plain trolley, also referred to as a push/pull trolley will depend on a human moving the load on the beam with their own force pushing against the item being lifted. When you choose a geared trolley, you will pull on a chain that hangs from the trolley to actuate the wheels, thereby allowing them to roll along the beam. A motorized trolley is actuated via a button on the pendant control station. This trolley comes with a motor attached to the side of the wheels. When you push the directional button on the pendant, the motor engages the wheels to start moving along the beam in the direction chosen. 

If you're unsure how to determine any of the factors above, be sure to ask for help from a sales representative. If you're completing a purchase for work, your immediate supervisor should be able to answer these questions for you before you select a chain hoist.

Types of Chain Hoists

Now that you have reviewed the different components of chain hoists, it’s time to look at what each type can offer. Depending upon the specifications of your project, it’s common to need different types of hoists for different applications. 

Air Chain Hoist

Coffing Hoist

This type of hoist is capable of lifting loads ranging from one-quarter ton to 2-ton. Compact features, including it's light weight, make it ideal for workstation and commercial applications in general. An air chain hoist works via a throttle pendant, and can reach lifting and lowering speeds ranging from 20 to 120 FPM. It's durability allows it to handle a wide range of heavy duty lifts. The air chain hoist requires little maintenance over its lifespan, and offers the same options for suspension as the other hoists. 

Lift operators working with explosion proof applications find this type to be a nice alternative. Manufactured of an aluminum frame, this load type offers a hoistaloy load chain for the heaviest loads. In addition, a stainless-steel, spark-resistant chain for loads classified in the medium category is available. Its external braking arrangement allows for easy modification when dealing with various types of load ranges. 

The built-in travel stops of the air chain hoist avoid you from traveling too far with regard to both the lifting and lowering operations. The standard pull cord, allows you maintain proper control of your loads. An ergonomic throttle via a control pendant is available on most models. A supplemental muffler is able to be installed on most models to reduce the noise you produce while operating the air hoist. Another option you have with this type of hoist chain is whether to use a lug suspension or a hook.

Coffing Hoist


Electric Chain Hoist

An electric chain hoist can accommodate heavy industrial loads as well as smaller residential loads. Productivity can increase dramatically as it allows you to move items quickly and efficiently. This type of hoist is suspended from a beam or structure with a trolley mount or hook mount suspension. You then lift the load with a hook that you already attached to the chain. If chosen, it can operate with heavy-duty rope wire instead of chain. The most common industries that use electric chain hoists consists of manufacturing, material handling, construction, mining, and transportation.

A small electric chain hoist can lift approximately 250 pounds while the largest types can lift up to two tons or more. Because this type is so efficient and productive, you can complete jobs much quicker than you could with a manual lift. It’s also unlikely for operators to experience strains and muscle fatigue while using an electric chain hoist or in the days afterwards. If you’re in charge of managing lift jobs, using this type of hoist can save you considerable money on labor costs.

Most all electric chain hoists feature an option for lateral trolley movement that enables you you to lift loads not only up and down, but also side to side. This provides you with greater flexibility as well as cost savings by not having to invest in two different types of chain hoists. Although you'll still want to use hearing protection, it produces less noise than some of the other types. You can expect an electric chain hoist to last for several years, with routine preventive maintenance completed. 

The headroom used by the lift, is another feature to consider with an electric hoist. While delivering a low headroom, many compact design models can still deliver heavy lifting capacities. Reviewing the specs and a copy of the lift manual before making a purchase can help you decide which low headroom hoists will meet your demand.

Lever Chain Hoists

Coffing HoistThe manual lever chain hoist is optimal when you need to carry a light-duty load a short distance. Its shell, a material known for it's strong wear resistance and superior safety performance, is constructed from alloy steel. With this type of hoist, you have the choice to engage the chain pulley and the non-return brake reducer at the same time. Its auxiliary spur gear transmission units are precisely arranged to make the lever hoist durable and easy to use.

Many lever chain hoist comes complete with overload protection. It's an optional feature, and when activated this component prevents you from attempting to lift a larger load than the equipment can safely handle. It includes fully enclosed gearing that hinder debris and other types of pollution from reaching or gumming up the gears. These units are inherently weather-resistant, making it possible to use them in all weather conditions and climates.

Like the other types of hoists, the lever chain hoist will operate for years to come with a few basic repairs required. With that said, you should consider implementing a regular preventive maintenance schedule to increase its lifespan as long as possible. The hoists are easy to dismantle and put back together when it’s time to perform maintenance. Its powder coating finish increases its durability and longevity.

Manual Chain Hoists

Despite the fact this is the simplest type of chain hoist, a hand chain hoist can still lift extremely heavy loads. Manufacturers use heavy-duty durable steel to construct this type, and thereby ensure that it can lift every load with ease. It is made up of three main components. These include the lifting pull chains, alloy steel hooks, and lifting mechanisms. This piece of machinery also has two types of chain, one for a hand chain, and another for a lifting chain. See below for a great video that shows how a manual chain hoist functions:


Using the hand chain to raise or lower a load requires you to pull the chain located on a chain-sheave wheel in its lifting mechanism. The lifting chain then raises or lowers a load by looping the lift chain around its own chain-sheave lifting mechanism. The lower grab hook allows you to attach lifting slings, a lifting chain, wire rope slings, and the contents of the load. A top hook located at the top of the manual chain hoist’s housing allows you to anchor the hoist to a beam clamp,  trolley system, or another type of structure that can handle the weight of the load.

A manual chain hoist does not need electricity to operate, this makes it easier to instruct new operators on how to use it. It is easier to maintain and repair than other types of hoists, and doesn’t require oil. On average, they cost less to purchase than the other types. Keep in mind, it’s imperative to plan your lifts carefully seeing how manual chain hoists are slower than other types, and will require more manual energy. 

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