Hoists - A Complete Guide (Types, Suppliers, and Important Attributes)

We've compiled a comprehensive guide to hoists (types, suppliers, and important attributes), which can help you with research or to make a buying decision. We've included a breakdown of the types of hoists, their applications, considerations, and attributes, as well as the top hoist suppliers and distributors.

Table of Contents

What are Hoists?

Hoists are mechanical or electro-mechanical lifting devices that rely on mechanical advantage to move objects vertically and support hanging loads. Mechanical hoist equipment distributes weight by using pulleys or gears to transfer low force over long distances into larger forces applied over shorter distances. The chain or rope is wound around a barrel/drum or wheel and further wound around other gears or pulleys with different radii, some of which can be in the load block. This configuration is called the reeving and determines how the force of a load will be distributed or transferred. Hoists are used in fixed or mobile applications and can be used for general purpose lifting or designed for special purposes, such as removing an engine from a car. Hoists typically incorporate a hook at the fixed end that connects to a crane or trolley and a hook at the moveable end which engages the load.

Top Suppliers of Hoists in the US

Thomasnet.com has information on over 500,000 industrial suppliers, distributors, manufacturers and OEMs. Below we've listed 10 of the top suppliers of hoists.

For more information on a particular company, click the link to view their full company profile.

Company Name

Company Type

Certifications, Registrations and Diversity

Annual Sales

Timberland Equipment Ltd.

Turnkey Systems Integrator

ISO 9001:2008

$50 - 99.9M



ISO 9001


Spider By BrandSafway

Custom Manufacturer

ISO 9001:2008

ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007

ISO 9001:2015

OHSAS 18001:2007

$50 - 99.9M

American Crane & Equipment Corp. Company



CSA W47.1

Drug-Free Workplace Program

Small Business Enterprise (SBE)

$25 - 49.9M

J. Herbert Corp.


Drug-Free Workplace Program

Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB)

$5 - 9.9M

Columbus McKinnon Corp.


ISO 9001:2008


ACI Hoist & Crane, Inc.


Not Available.

$5 - 9.9M

SISSCO Hoist & Crane


Not Available.

$10 - 24.9 Mil

Cardinal Carryor


Not Available.

$10 - 24.9M

T & M Equipment Co., Inc.


Not Available.

$10 - 24.9M

Types of Hoists

A few of the different types of hoists available are discussed in this video:

Additional details about the different types of hoists are presented in the sections below.

Manual Hoists

Manual hoists, sometimes referred to as chain falls, are ratchet (lever-actuated) or hand chain operated lifting devices. A manual lifting hoist uses two different chains, the hand chain used to control the lifting and lowering action and the load chain, which supports the load. Compared to most powered hoists, manual hoists typically have the following characteristics:

  • Initial costs are lower
  • Easier to transport, portable
  • Requires more work to lift heavier loads
  • Longer lifting time compared to powered varieties
  • Usually prone to more wear and tear over time than powered models

Powered Hoists

Powered hoists are one of the different types of lifting gear you can find and come in 3 varieties, electric, air/pneumatic and hydraulic. Compared to most manual hoisting equipment, powered hoists typically have the following characteristics:

  • Faster lifting speeds
  • Wider range of lifting capacity
  • Pendant or controller operated
  • Electric models are prone to overheating with frequent use
  • Air/Pneumatic models are useful where sparking is a concern

Applications and Industries

Hoists are used anywhere lifting and moving a load is required, not restricted to industrial applications. Hoists have a wide range of applications including lifting cargo, construction materials, engines, and warehouse stock.

Industries where hoists are used include but are not limited to:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Logging
  • Marine
  • Manufacturing
  • Medical
  • Mining


Operating time, frequency of usage, and load all factor into the life of the hoist. These factors as well as travel distance and speed will also affect the lifetime of the trolley, where applicable. Using equipment above recommended parameters will lower the product lifetime.

The required effort to operate a manual hoist (lever or hand-operated) should be within the limits of the operator.

The lifting capacity of the hoist should not be higher than the weight capacity of the structure that will support the hoist.

For most applications requiring regular lifting of 2 tons or more, a motorized trolley is recommended.

Structural components such as the load block or hook add to the overall weight being lifted, keep this in mind when assessing lifting needs.

Specialty or custom hoists are often available from certain manufacturers.

New vs. Used Hoists

As with any equipment it is important to assess the condition of a used or refurbished hoist. Inspection of the hoist rigging equipment, as well as regular maintenance of the hoist, is highly recommended. If possible, obtain the serial number for the used item. This will help identify the design specifications and limitations as set by the manufacturer. Although not common, failure in the support structure or line material can occur. It is important to be aware of the regulations outlined by OSHA Standard 1910.179, “Overhead and Gantry Cranes,” which outlines information regarding the operation and safety of overhead cranes.

ASME Performance Standards

The ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) provides standards for most hoist types, applications and components. These standards are available on the ASME website provided in the general resources section below.

Important Attributes

Lift Capacity

Lift capacity is the weight that can be supported by the hoist. This is determined by the tolerance of the line material as well as the frequency of use, power source, and the structure on which the hoist is suspended. Select a hoist with a lifting capacity higher than your heaviest load.

Line Material

The line material is the media through which a force will be applied to lift an object. The most common line materials used are chain and wire rope or cable. For smaller/lighter loads rope and strap or webbing can be used.

Power Source

The power source provides the energy which will eventually turn the gears that raise or lower the line material. The most basic chain hoists are operated by hand chains or levers. Electrically powered hoists are the most commonly used on heavy loads. Portable hoists can be powered by the combustion of fuel such as gasoline and diesel. Air and hydraulically powered hoists are commonly used in environments where the sparking of electrical units is a concern.

Suspension Type

Simple hoist models can be suspended or mounted in stationary locations by being hooked or bolted onto permanent fixtures or movable stands. Other models have built-in equipment that allows them to be attached to overhead trolleys, such hoists can be pushed or pulled along a rail or can use self-contained motorized units.

Lift Height

The lift is the distance from the load hook at its highest position to the load hook’s lowest position. The combination of the headroom and lift is called the reach.

Lift Speed

Lift speed is the rate at which a load can be lifted. Some models have multiple or variable speeds. The lift speed can be affected by the load weight and height. Higher capacity hoists tend to have lower lifting speeds. Some models have multiple speeds which can provide flexibility when working with a range of loads.


The headroom of a hoist is the distance from the rail or tread on which the hoist sits and the hook which is attached to the load. Similarly, for stationary models, this can be measured as the distance from the point at which the hoist is mounted and the lifting hook. Before choosing a particular hoist it is important to know how it will be suspended or mounted as well as where it will be used. Be sure the hoist can operate freely without obstructions.

Related Product Categories

Winches are mechanical devices consisting of rotating drums, powered manually or electrically, which produce drawing forces on cables for hauling or pulling.

Cranes are mechanical assemblies used for lifting and/or moving a variety of items.

Pulleys are wheels or drums which are attached to shafts or axles. There are two types of pulleys: belt pulleys, which are used to transmit power, and rope pulleys, which are used to lift or move objects.

Beam Trolleys are mechanical devices or assemblies consisting of sets of rollers mounted in frames, which roll along girders or beams, and are used for transporting products or materials within a work area.


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