How to Decide Which Hoist to Purchase

Chain Hoist vs. Wire Rope Hoist

Depending on your application, MHS will aid you in choosing the correct hoist. However, as a general rule, a chain hoist is recommended when an application calls for 3 tons or lower. For applications higher than 3 tons a wire rope hoist is recommended. The following are additional factors to consider:

  • Side pulling:
    • Although manufacturers recommend loads be lifted vertically only, there are applications that require side pulling. In such cases, a chain hoist is recommended as they are more forgiving.
  • High speeds:
    • Chain hoists are not available at high speeds.
  • Frequent use:
    • Although many chain hoists are rated for heavy duty cycle, their maintenance costs are higher than that of a wire rope hoist.


How fast should your hoist lift?  Lift speed is usually based on the height the product will be lifted, the frequency of lifts, and how delicately the product must be set down (this can also be accomplished with 2 speed or variable speed).


Increasing the speed can increase the cost of a hoist significantly so it is important to weigh the cost of slower operation with the cost of the hoist.  As an example: if you are lifting to the back of a truck you will need to lift about 5 feet.  If you are lifting 20 times per hour, 5 days a week, and using a hoist with a lift speed of 10 FPM you will use (5lifts X 2 (up and down)/10 FPM /60 minutes per hour) 20 X times per hour X 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year X $35.00 burdened hourly rate = $3,033.33 per year for labor cost.  If you purchased a 20 FPM hoist you would save 1/2 of this or $1516.66 per year.

The other factor in choosing a slower hoist is impatience.  There is little patience when lifting a slow moving load that takes 1 minute to lift high enough to place on a truck.

Motorized or Manual

A manual chain hoist is much less expensive than a motorized hoist.   Manual hoists should be considered when speed is not important and when lifts are infrequent.  When lifting heavier loads you should consider the fact that in order to lift a 5 ton load by hand you must pull over 200 feet of chain at 80 pounds of force to lift 1 foot.  


If you need a trolley do you want push, hand geared, or motorized?  


Push is much less expensive but if used in applications where operator cannot push from behind the load (if traveling over tanks), or if used frequently or with heavy loads (2 tons or over) it can cause fatigue or back injury.


Geared trolleys are somewhat less expensive than motorized.  The chain used to drive the wheels can get in the way in many applications.


Motorized trolleys are more expensive but have the advantage of ease of motion.  If you decide on a motorized trolley you need to specify the size of beam it will ride on, and the speed you wish.  Increasing speed on trolley typically does not increase the cost but load swing should be taken into account if fast speeds are used (a variable drive is useful with fast speeds).  Slow speeds are typically about 30 FPM, medium about 60 FPM and fast over 100FPM.



Which brand is best?  This depends on your application.  We have found that every brand tends to have a market segment that they do best in.  


Remote Control

Remotes are used in situations where being tethered to the crane is inconvenient or dangerous.  In applications where the operator must walk around an object to assure proper positioning; such as, truck repair facilities, remotes allow one operator to do the work of two.  In facilities that move long items, the remote allows the operator to balance the end of the load thus eliminating the need for an extra person. With improved reliability, added safety features, and lower cost, remotes are an option that are seen on an increasing number of cranes.

We sell many brands of remotes.  All work well but there is a tremendous difference in the durability of the hand held unit (transmitter).  The least costly often work well in environments in which they will take little abuse.  The most costly are designed to withstand a lot of abuse.  When pricing this option, please, be certain you are quoted the same brand and model.

Variable Drive Hoist

Reductions in cost are making variable drives on hoist motion cost effective and a better solution than 2 speed (the option is still very expensive on some brands).  Variable drive lifts reduce maintenance by eliminating arcing of relays and, when programmed properly, by using resistors to slow hoist prior to applying the brake thus greatly extending the life of the brakes.  Variable drives also allow for speed modifications after installation.

2 Speed Hoist

When loads must be placed down softly a second speed is best.  This allows the operator to save time by lifting at faster speeds as well as placing the load gently with the slower speed.  Most hoists have a second speed that is 1/3 to 1/5 the high speed, although some offer 1/10.  We have found the 1/10 speed is too slow to be used in most applications.

Chain Container

A chain container is used to keep surplus electric chain out of the work area. Many electric chain hoists do not have a chain container as a standard item.  You should verify it is included in your quote.  

Dual Hoist Brake

Many hoists are designed with a second mechanical load brake.  This brake assists in the braking process and helps control the decent rate.  While a single brake system is safe, many people like having a second brake as an added security.

Why Choose Material Handling Systems For a Hoist Purchase

Large Inventory

With an inventory of $1,000,000, including hoists to up to 20 tons, MHS can provide almost any product ready for immediate shipping.


Material Handling Systems is a UL508A control panel manufacturer. Our electric engineers can design customized control panels to fit your company's specific application needs. 

Represent and Repair all brands 

Due to our capacity to represent and repair all brands of hoists, we know which products are the most cost effective and reliable.


Product Knowledge

To receive a quote for a hoist or any other product, Material Handling Systems does not require customers to fill out a form. Instead, we provide personal attention to aid our customers in choosing a hoist. We are the experts and as such, all of our employees understand that their job is to add value to the customer.

Feel Free to call us Anytime (888) 424-6478 - 24hrs/365 Days