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What Is a Pulley Hoist?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A pulley hoist is a device used to lift heavy objects. This device usually consists of one or more pulley wheels through which a chain or rope can be run, and a hook or other security system to which items can be secured for lifting. Some pulley hoist models are motorized to lift extremely heavy objects, while others are operated by hand by pulling on the rope or chain. The size and function of the hoist can vary, as can the price of the unit, depending on its intended use. They are commonly used in industrial settings as well as in garages and workshops.

The system relies on one or more pulleys, which are essentially wheels, usually made of metal, mounted on axles to allow the wheels to turn. The perimeter of the wheel may be grooved to keep the rope, chain, or belt more securely in place during use, and the pulley itself will be mounted inside a frame, also usually made from metal. The pulley hoist can feature just one pulley, but it is likely that the system will feature more than one pulley for more effective lifting or moving of heavy objects.

A metal pulley, such as that used on a hoist.
A metal pulley, such as that used on a hoist.

To use a pulley hoist, the user pulls on the rope or chain at one end of the system. The opposite end of that rope or chain is fixed to a stable object, and in between the two ends, the rope or chain runs through the pulleys. When the user pulls on the rope or chain, the pulleys activate; one or more of the pulleys are attached to the object to be moved, so when the rope is pulled, the pulleys rise. Other methods exist as well: an independent hook may be incorporated into the system so the pulley itself is not affixed to the object to be lifted.

A motorized pulley hoist works in a similar fashion, but instead of being operated by hand, it is operated by a motor that pulls on the rope or chain. The motor is designed to bear the burden of heavier objects that a human could not lift, even with the pulley system. Sometimes the pulley hoist is mounted on an overhead beam or track, which allows a person to adjust the location of the hoist in relation to the object to be lifted. Once the object is lifted, it can be moved along the track to a different location.

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    • A metal pulley, such as that used on a hoist.
      By: Zerbor
      A metal pulley, such as that used on a hoist.