Electric Chain Hoist Selection Guide

Electric chain hoists are used for lifting or lowering material. An electric motor and controller are utilized to lift, lower and accelerate or decelerate the speed of the hoist. Electric hoists are ideal for use in industrial production lines and small machine shops where more frequent and faster lifting is required.

All chain hoists provide true vertical lift, meaning the load does not vary from the hoist centerline during hoisting or lowering.


Trolleys are used with electric hoists and enable the hoists to move on a track. Trolleys can be distinguished by the following attributes:

  • Load capacity: Measured in pounds force or tons.
  • Beam height and width: The height and width of the beam to which the hoist will be affixed.

Items to consider when selecting a hoist:

  • Weight of load
  • Power supply
  • Speed of lifts
  • Lifting height
  • Frequency of lifts
  • Duty cycle

The powered hoist industry uses a service classification system to help you select the proper hoist. See the chart below for details.

Electric Hoist Service Classifications

  Approaching 50% of the work period   300   High-volume handling in steel warehousing, machine shops, fabricating plants, mills and foundries. Manual or automatic cycling operations in heat-treating and plating operations.
H3   Not to exceed 25% of the work period   150   General machine shop, fabricating, assembly, storage and warehousing use, where loads and operation are randomly distributed.
H2   Not to exceed 15% of the work period   75   Light machine shop, fabricating industries, and service and maintenance work, where loads and use are randomly distributed with capacity loads infrequently handled.

How to Choose What Service Classification You Need

Determine the maximum weight you need to lift. (Include lifting, supporting and positioning devices.)

Ex: 2400 lbs. (includes pallet, drum, sling, etc.)
What is the nominal voltage (±10% of rated voltage) in your facility? (Single-phase 115 or 230V; 3-phase 208, 230 or 460V)

Ex: 230V
What speed do you want to lift the load? Industry standard for 1/8 to 1 ton is 16 ft./min. (fpm); 2 tons is 8 fpm. For flexibility, consider a variable speed lift.

Ex: 8 fpm
Measure from the point of mount to the floor.

Ex: 12 ft.

What is the actual distance the load must be lifted and lowered?

Ex: 7 ft.
Determine the number of lifts per hour for the job.

Ex: 15
How many times does an operator activate the push-button control? Rule of thumb: 8 start/stops per cycle (load lift and lower).

Ex: 120 start/stops
Hoists have a Service Classification rating. To determine the classification for your job, see the calculations below:

Ex: 12 ft.

Once a % On Time is determined, see the Electric Hoist Service Classifications to determine the hoist needed.

Selected hoist in this example should offer 2-ton capacity, 230V, 3-phase operation, 15-ft. lift, 8 fpm and have a 44% or H4 service classification. Example is based on having nominal voltage and 80°F ambient still air. Higher temperatures and/or voltages outside of nominal range will result in reduced duty cycles.