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The Ultimate Guide for Choosing the Right Boat Lift

Are you tired of investing your precious time in cleaning and polishing a boat to save it from the harsh effects of water? Why not consider buying a boat lift that will help protect your expensive vessel from algae growth, rust, and salt corrosion?

A boat lift keeps the vessel above the water line in the off-season, thus protecting your investment from damage. Putting a canopy over the boat lifter adds more protection. 

When choosing the boat lift, several factors should be considered. Not all types of boat lifts are workable for all types of water bodies. Here we will discuss the factors you should consider for choosing the best boat lift.

boat on water being lifted with a boat lift

What is a Boat Lift?

A boat lift is a device to raise and lower boats in and out of the water. It is typically used in marinas, harbors, private docks, and other waterfront locations where boats must be stored out of the water during the off-season.

Boat lifts can be installed in many configurations, such as fixed, floating, or free-standing. 

The main advantage of a boat lift is that it helps to prevent damage to the watercraft caused by exposure to the water, such as hull damage, osmosis, and marine growth.

What should be considered when buying a boat lift? 

Power Source

When buying the vessel lift, you should look for the power source that is operating the lift. Manually operated lifts are now not as much in demand due to technological advancement. An electric, pneumatic, or hydraulically-controlled boat lift is the better option as it does not need manual labor and can be operated by simply pressing a button. 

On the flip side, these automated lifts require a convenient power supply and regular maintenance. Conversely, the manually operated lift is cost-effective, but it needs labor. 

Weight and size of vessel

While buying the boat lifter requires knowing your vessel’s length, weight, and width. The boat lifting device must be capable of lifting the weight of your boat. Purchasing a higher weight capacity means your boat lift will likely last longer. 

If you are considering buying a newer, bigger watercraft, you should consider this before installing a boat lifter.


Proper boat and boat lift maintenance is essential, but some lifts need frequent maintenance. Boat lifts that only need occasional maintenance and low maintenance costs, such as floating boats, are highly popular on freshwater lakes.

You should also consider important parts of the lift, like cable, winch, bunk boards, float tanks, frame, bolts, pitman arms, and the cradle itself. Then learn about the material composition of each of these components.

Water depth

When buying a hoist for your vessel, you must consider the water depth of the location where you will install the boat lift. Your location should have a shore for the installation of a shore-mounted lift.

If the water body is shallow, you can buy a bottom-standing lift, but you must evaluate the bottom to ensure it’s firm and even for mounting the bottom-standing lifter. A shallow-water floating boat lift is generally a better option for shallow depths.

Types of Boat Lift

There are various types of boat lifts, each designed for varied surfaces of the water body and water levels. Still, they all serve the same purpose. These types include:

Floating Boatlift

This vessel lifter has pneumatic tanks that fill up with water to lower the boat and then displace water by filling the tanks with air. In this way, the boat remains above the water when it is not in use. 

Floating boat lifts are aluminum, steel, and high-density polyethylene chambers filled with air. An electric pump powers the pneumatic lift to fill and evacuate the poly tanks. Floating lifts are preferable where water levels change and fluctuate.

Bottom Standing 

As the name suggests, it utilizes leg supports and stands on the floor of the river or lake. This type of boat lifting is functional for waters whose surface is even and smooth. The water level for installing the bottom-standing lift should be between two to nine feet. 

Installing a bottom-standing lift on a soft or rough surface can be challenging. 

The bottom-standing lift comes in a variety of types. They can be manuals that are lowered and pushed up with the help of a pulley. It can be electrically powered or can be hydraulic.

Shore Mounted

A shore-mounted boat lift is a type of boat lift that is installed on the shore or waterfront rather than on the dock or pier.

The shore-mounted lift typically consists of a frame anchored to the shore with a set of cables and straps that lift the sail out of water. This type of boat lifting is powered by an electric motor or hydraulics system, typically located on the shore or in a nearby utility shed.

It requires a stable shoreline with sufficient depth and a slope. A shoreline allows the lift to be positioned at the proper angle for safe and effective boat lifting.

Piling mount 

A piling mount boat lift is a type of boat lift that is mounted to pilings, which are vertical structural supports driven into the ground or at the bottom of the water. And it utilizes a cradle or bunks to support the vessel. 

Like the others, the piling mount boat lift is designed to lift a boat out of the water and keep it securely suspended above the waterline when not in use. 

They are often used in coastal areas with strong currents or tidal fluctuations because they provide a secure and stable mounting system. 

The lift mechanism can be operated manually or powered by electricity or hydraulics. 


Boats are a great way to get out on the water, relax, and enjoy some time with friends and family. And one of the best investments for a boat owner is a boat lift. Boat lifts keep boats out of the water, protect them from the elements, and allow for more efficient maintenance. 

Likewise, boat lifts can protect boats from waves and strong currents, increasing the safety of passengers. 

Furthermore, having a boat lift reduces the risk of man-made damage from collisions with other boats or docks. 

And finally, boat lifts save time when launching and docking a boat, making the whole process much more convenient.

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