The Difference Between Hoists and Cranes

June 30, 2020 at 6:00 AM
What's the difference between hoists and cranes?

You may have heard people use the terms hoists and cranes interchangeably. You may even have heard professionals swap between the two—but this is incorrect. While some choose to use each term as a substitution for the other, there are significant differences between then and it’s important to know the difference.

Having a solid understanding of the similarities and differences between the two will not only help you properly apply their services when planning a project but will also help you be able to more effectively communicate with others when discussing them. Let’s get into what sets these two pieces of equipment apart from one another.

How are Hoists and Cranes Different?

Before we get into the specifics of what distinguishes one from the other, let’s first explore what each piece of equipment is, what it does, and the essentials you need to know.


Cranes are a multifaceted piece of machinery that lift, lower, and ultimately move extremely heavy loads and come with additional components that give it the ability to move in multiple directions. The crane relies on a hoist, trolley, and bridge for its wide range of motion and ability to execute fairly nuanced movements for its size and weight.

Still, cranes’ structures are mainly comprised of six integral sections:

  • The boom system (main boom, jib, telescopic mechanism, and end sheave)
  • Electrical system (main boom’s, jib’s, and turntable’s electrical systems)
  • Hydraulic system
  • Turntable assembly
  • Operator’s cab
  • Chassis (crane structure, steering system, transmission, brakes, movement system)

Even among cranes, there are different types, each serving a different purpose or performing different commands. On top tunning cranes, the bridge moves across two ceiling-mounted rails which enables heavier load lifts and movement. Under running cranes’ bridges move across the bottom flange of two beams. This crane is especially helpful with the construction of specific types of buildings. With monorail cranes, the crane’s hoist is affixed to its trolley across a single rail, following a path throughout the facility, usually in a snake-like or oval shape.


Hoists are pieces of equipment that perform single tasks, like lifting and lowering extremely heavy loads upon a vertical plane. They are affixed to the machine’s primary horizontal beam within the crane. This piece is called a bridge girder. When it is connected to the trolley, it can move in either direction across the bridge girder.

Perfect for lifting loads that come in under five tons with modest maintenance needed, chain hoists can get the job done. However, rope hoists are the best option for lifting any loads that exceed five or more tons. Still, single-reeved hoists require only one rope along the drum. Similarly, double-reeved hoists lift loads completely vertically with two ropes on one drum.

Rely On Us for Your Hoists and Cranes Needs

T&M Cranes is proud to supply our customers with the most reliable equipment and unbeatable service available. If you have questions about our machinery, projects, or want to learn more about us and how we can assist you, reach out to us today.