Air Chain HoistSo you’re in the market for a new air hoist. An industrial air hoist, or pneumatic hoist as they are also know, is not an item you just snap up. It must be able to handle the load you will be applying to it. If you are buying a replacement air hoist or just need replacement parts, then you should be able to acquire a model number or part number off of your current hoist.

Multiple factors go into an air hoist purchase. We highly suggest you take measurements and collect as much detailed information and specifications prior to purchasing a used or new hoist.

Important details to know would be:

  • Where the hoist will be installed – indoor, outdoor
  • What is the gross maximum weight you will be lifting? The load capacity should be larger than your object weight.
  • What is the available power source? 115V, 208V, 230V, 460V, Single Phase, 3 Phase, Pneumatic?
  • How will it be mounted? Hook type? Push trolley or motorized trolley? Is your beam in good shape and is it able to support the weight of the hoist and the items to be lifted.
  • What is the lift height?
  • Do you want / need an air chain hoist?
  • Will a used, rebuilt or refurbished hoist be OK or should you by brand new?

Air Hoist Background

Air hoists are designed and built to efficiently and ergonomically move, lift, position or secure material, and the right hoist for the right job will improve the efficiency and safety of any operation. Hoists can be an integral part of a good material handling system, and it’s important to find the hoist that works best in a given environment. Doing research online is a great way to compare several types, brands and models of air hoists to make sure you find what will work for your environment based on your desired price range, capacity and other features.

How Do Air Hoists Work?

An air hoist works in much the same way as an electric hoist, but where an electric hoist requires electricity to provide the necessary force to lift a load, an air hoist uses air pressure.  Air hoists are much less likely to overheat when used for long periods of time due to the continual intake and output of air which is used to operate the pneumatic system.  One of the only down sides to air hoists compared to an electric hoist is speed.  An air hoist is quite a bit slower than its electric counterpart, as it works by a stop-start method of airflow to control and move the load up and down using the chain and pulley system.  On the plus side, because it takes time to build up the air within the system and it operates a little slower, it means that you can control the load more carefully, which is a real bonus with loads which are a little less stable.  Due to nature of its design and its lack of electricity or risk of spark, an air hoist is a great choice if you are looking for a hoist in high risk environments where you would not want to ignite flammable gases.

Important Features and Functions of Air Hoists

Lifting Capacity

To a large degree, your choice of which air hoist to purchase will depend on the lifting capacity that you need. Small, portable hoists usually start at ¼ ton capacity, while larger, industrial plant-type hoists can lift 100 tons or more.


Air Hoists are designed primarily to lift material vertically, but many hoists also provide for horizontal movement as well. Some hoists are portable or can be attached with hooks, and other hoists attach to trolleys, which travel horizontally along a bridge girder.

Clearance and Lift Length

The vertical distance of the lifting that you need in your environment will determine the length of the hoist chain or wire that is needed as well as the headroom that is required. Headroom is the distance between the top and bottom hooks of the hoist.

Is an Air Hoist Right for You?

Air hoists might not seem quite as advanced as their electric cousins but they are an excellent choice and can be invaluable to your work shop or site.  One of the biggest benefits over their electric counterparts is that they do not require electricity, so you can deploy them in many locations, which is especially helpful in a workshop or garage which have air hoses.  The control of your loads movement is much easier to manage with an air hoist compared to a manual chain hoist and requires a lot less effort on your part.  They are also an ideal choice in high risk work environments where electric sources are carefully controlled so as to not ignite flammable gases and an electric hoist would not be an option.

Overall, air hoists are a great choice for commercial and hobbyists alike, offering you all the control needed to lift heavy loads with the tools you have available and are easy to install and relocate when required.