Technical Brief: Wire Rope Hoists vs. Chain Hoists

Modern designs and upgraded materials have greatly improved the performance of both electric chain and wire rope hoists. New technology has transformed chain hoists into a rugged and durable product. Today, both types of hoists compete equally for typical industrial applications in capacities up to 7.5 tons.

Hoist Type Characteristics


Electric chain hoists:

 Lift by pulling the chain through sprockets and depositing the chain into a chain container

 Require less maintenance

 Are less expensive

 Provide true vertical lift at no extra cost

 Are common for applications below 7.5 tons

Wire rope hoists:

 Lift by wrapping cable around a grooved drum

 Offer a wide variety of lifting speeds

 Offer a wide array of options

 Can be rated H-5 (severe duty)

 Dominate the market at 7.5 tons and above


Comparison of Hoist Types

Hoist manufacturers provide a wide range of choices for both chain and wire hoists with capacities up to 7.5 tons, but the selection of chain hoists above 7.5 tons is more limited. The use of chain hoists is common for applications below 7.5 tons, and the market above 7.5 tons is dominated by wire rope hoists.

Both types of hoist use similar motors, brakes and controls. The main difference between electric chain hoists and wire rope hoists is in the design of the lifting mechanism.

Be sure to request an H-4 rating on either your electric chain or wire rope hoist to ensure long life and low maintenance.


Duty Ratings

Duty ratings are a better indicator of hoist durability than hoist type (chain or wire rope). Electric chain and wire rope hoists are rated either H-3 (moderate duty) or H-4 (heavy duty).



Wire Rope Hoist for Overhead CraneChain Hoist for Overhead Crane

Consider an electric chain hoist for:

 8-10 hours of use per day

 Fewer than 20 lifts per hour

 Less than 30 minutes motor on time per hour

 High percentage of lifts at full capacity

 True vertical lift

 High durability at low cost

For more hoist information, please contact our Parts Department at

(781) 897-4104 or


Second Quarter 2010