Best Manual Hoist Guide 2020 - Lever Hoist vs Chain Hoist?

by MTN Productions LTD January 01, 2020

New Year! New Gear! If you’re in the market for a new manual hoist, it’s important to know what type of hoist will provide your business with the most benefits e.g cost-saving, simple and efficient operation, and simple maintenance. Whether you own factories, construction sites, auto shops, or warehouses, this manual hoist guide will help you pick the right one.


What is a Manual Chain Hoist?

With working load limits (WLL) up to 50 tons, Manual Chain Hoists, also known as hand-operated chain blocks, are widely used in multiple industries. Here are their key features and benefits:

1. Lift very heavy loads with ease by using mechanical advantages

A manual chain hoist can give you a competitive advantage. 

It eliminates the need for a team of workers to lift a heavy load up to 50,000kg down to one person, turning a strenuous labour-intensive work process into an efficient one. Your workers can do other activities while one lifts the load. This, in turn, increases productivity meaning you’ll be saving time and money thanks to this device.

2. No power supply required and cost-saving

As no electricity is required, it is especially advantageous for lifting work in open-air grounds and places where no power supply is available. They are small in size for easy carrying, especially Yale Handy Lever Hoist.

If the budget plays a big role in deciding what type of hoist to buy, manual chain hoists are one of the more cost-efficient options because they are usually cheaper than electric and hydraulic hoists. Plus, manual chain hoists don’t use electricity, so you won’t have to worry about an increased electricity bill at the end of the month. 

3. Simple design with trouble-free operation

If your business operates at a small venue, a manual chain hoist will be a great choice since it’s portable. You can still expect heavy vertical lifting from the mechanism without dealing with a complex system that cannot be easily moved. Its simple design also makes it easier to repair and maintain. There are no wires or motors to sift through during inspection. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance hoist, you’ve found the one.


Lever Hoist vs Chain Hoist?

There are 2 main types of manual hoists: Lever Hoist and Chain Hoist. They are both simple and portable without power supply. Chain hoists move a load by pulling a chain while lever hoists by cranking the lever/handle up and down. Generally, a chain hoist has a greater capacity of up to 50,000 kg. However, a lever hoist has the advantage of being able to lift in most positions whereas a general chain hoist is usually used vertically. The section below is comparing chain hoists and lever hoists in terms of capacity, lifting mechanism and application. 

Manual Chain Hoists

    A. Hand Chain Hoist


    A hand chain hoist, being a force multiplier, gives you the ability to lift very large loads up to 50,000 kg (See Yale VSIII Hand Hoist) with ease by using mechanical advantage. Its working load limit (WLL) is greater than a lever hoist's.

    How to Use Chain Hoist?

    After suspending the hoist from a beam clamp, shackle, trolley or so on, and securing the load to the bottom hook, you can pull the hand chain with both hands. The small pulling force applied is transformed over a long distance to a large force over a short distance. The process makes a hand-chain wheel turn a series of cogs, axles, gears, and sprockets and in turn rotates the second load chain to lift your load.

    Manual Chain Hoist Use


    Hand hoists are ideal for high vertical loads. You can still operate the pulling chain from the ground even when the hoist is positioned up high. Most hand hoists are used for infrequent maintenance applications where speed is not a requirement. They should not be specified for continuous lifting applications, especially when long lifts are required. Typical uses are to:

    • Lift pumps, generators, or other heavy equipment in water treatment facilities.
    • Lift loads from the higher levels on construction sites
    • Remove engines from cars easily in automotive garages
    • Lift items to and from the belt in assembly-line factories
    • Others: machine shops, workshops, or warehouses farms etc to load or unload goods. 

    B. Lever Chain Hoist


    Lever chain hoists or called come alongs are used for vertical and horizontal movements like pulling, dragging, stretching, and positioning loads up to 10,000 kg (See Pull Lift C85). Its capacity is generally lower than a hand hoist's one.

    How to Use Lever Hoist?

    The design of a lever hoist is similar to that of a hand chain operated hoist. Instead of using a hand chain to move the load, this tool has a hand crank or lever to drive the ratchet hoist mechanism. An operator, standing on the same level next to the hoist, can position the load by cranking the lever up and down. Unlike hand hoists, lever hoists can be operated using just one hand. Speed is not a characteristic of a lever tool. 

    • To raise the load: Turn pawl rod lever to the lifting position (⬆) and operate the lever with a pumping action.
    • To lower the loadTurn pawl rod lever to the lowering position (⬇) and operate the lever with a pumping action.
    • To adjust the chain length: Turn pawl rod lever to the neutral position (central). The chain can now be pulled in both directions and the bottom hook will be quickly brought to the required position.

    To suspend a lever chain hoist, the top hook of the hoist can be attached to a shackle, beam clamp, push trolley or the other secure support.

    Lever Chain Hoist


    As lever hoists are ideal for vertical and horizontal movements, they have several in-plant uses and are heavily used in the construction sites, utilities, lumber yards, railroads, and mining sites. The compact size is critical while working in the extremely cramped engine compartment in a tight space, or in confined places underneath a car. Some typical applications would be for:

    • Positioning machinery
    • Installing fences
    • Holding loads together
    • Opening railroad car doors
    • Pulling pipe
    • Stretching wires
    • Straightening poles


    Manual Hoists: From Industrial to Personal Use 

    Manual hoists are widely used in non-industrial areas. 50% of our manual hoist enquires are from general consumers who intend to use them at home or on the farm. They also comprise a large number of the lever-operated hoists sold. Here are the applications we have come across the most:

    Hand Hoist:

    • To lift motorcycle engines and frames on their own
    • To lift things up to a storage area in the garage
    • To lift the motorcycle off the ground for an easier oil change
    • To lift a garden tractor front end about 3-4 feet to clean the mowing deck and change the mowing blades

    Lever Hoist:

    • To lift sailboat out of the trailer
    • To pull a 10,000-pound dozer/backhoe up onto a trailer
    • To pull a generator out of a boat.
    • To be used to help with tree removal.
    • To lift, reposition and align marine engine (big block) without actually removing it from the boat.
    • To lift the front of a zero-turn mower to change blades.
    • To be attached to a small work crane to lift around 100 lbs of steel cover


      MTN Expert's Recommendations

      Lever Hoist vs Chain Hoist is well covered. Next, let's take a look at the manual hoists our MTN rigging experts handpicked for us!

      #1  Yale VSIII Hand Chain Hoist 

      This Hand Chain Hoist has been designed to prevent canting, or jamming, of the hand chain, ensuring the smooth running of the hand chain, load chain, and drive pinion. You can purchase this hoist knowing your production won’t be halted by malfunctioning of the hand chain. Also, this medium-duty manual chain hoist is perfect for outdoor use as it has the fully enclosed stamped steel housing. If your business operates outdoors, this hoist will meet your needs.

      PS: We understand the importance of lifting safety for every business so we provide chain hoist bag (chain container) option to house the slack chain, reducing lifting hazards. You don't need to worry about the chain hoist bag size because we will select the properly fitted one for your order.
      PPS: The heavy-duty range from 10,000kg to 50,000kg has lately been added.

      Yale VSIII Hand Chain Hoist (Medium-Duty) 250-5000 KG

      #2  Yalelift 360 Hand Chain Hoist 

      It has a revolutionary design that contains a 360-degree rotating hand chain guide which allows the user to flexibly and safely operate the hoist from all directions or in confined spaces. With this device, operators are no longer within the danger zone as before. It is also very suitable for heavy industrial applications. 

      Combined with a manual trolley, it provides the horizontal motion of the hoist along a beam/bridge rail, creating even more flexibility in the application of the Yalelift 360.

      Yalelift 360 Hand Chain Hoist

      #3 Coffing Lever Hoist

      When it comes to lever hoist, CM's Coffing Lever Hoist with the capacity of 750 kg is the prime example of an economical, user-friendly lever chain hoist. It is manufactured and processed by skilled engineers under strict quality control. All have been tested at 125% of rated capacity and inspected per ASME B30.21. You can ensure a prolonged service life with proper lubrication to this lever hoist.

      Coffing Lever Hoist [US market only]


      #4 Yale Pull Lift C85 / D85

      The D85 Pull Lift is the original ratchet lever hoist, the unit on which Yale was founded. The C/D85 is the ONLY ratchet lever hoist that can be called a Pull Lift.

      The C/D85 ratchet lever hoist with roller chain or link chain was designed to lift, lower and pull loads up to 10,000kg. It is designed for heavy-duty work and is suitable for almost any application in maintenance, mining, construction, steel fabrication, shipbuilding, utility work. Based on the feedback we received, if you need to operate a lever hoist in tough conditions, the heavy-duty C85 Pul-Lift is the right one that has also been known to have a working life up to 40+ years if well maintained. 

      The D85 with link chain is ideal for spotting and securing heavy loads, simplifying the setting of pipes etc. in manholes and trenches.

      The C85 with roller chain is ideal for use in the electricity supply industry and overhead line work. 

      Pull Lift C85 / D85

      Yale Pull Lift/Ratchet Lever Hoist C85 or D85

      You can find all of our manual chain hoists at MTN SHOP.

      MTN Productions LTD
      MTN Productions LTD


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