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27 Different Types of Boat Lifts

A boat lifts with crane lift up the boat in the port to dry store it.

Boat lifts are devices used to raise and lower boats between the water and a dock. There are many different boat lifts, each designed for a specific purpose. The most common type of boat lift is the hydraulic lift, which uses a system of hydraulically-powered cylinders to raise and lower the boat.

Another common type is the electric lift, which uses an electric motor to operate a winch that raises and lowers the ship. Finally, manual lifts use a hand crank or a lever to operate the winch.

Boat lifts can be used for various purposes, such as docking, storage, and repairs. They are often used in marinas and yacht clubs, providing a convenient way to keep boats safe and out of the water when they are not in use. Boat lifts can also raise boats out of the water for repairs or maintenance.

There are a few things to consider before purchasing a boat lift, such as the type of boat that will be lifted, the weight of the boat, and the height of the dock.

It is essential to choose a lift rated for the importance of the boat, as lifting a heavier boat with a lighter-duty lift can damage both the lift and the boat. It is also essential to ensure that the dock is high enough to allow easy access to the boat lift.

When choosing a boat lift, selecting one durable and lasting many years is essential. There are many different materials that boat lifts are made from, such as aluminum, steel, and fiberglass. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages, so selecting the material best suits the boat owner’s needs is essential.

Aluminum boat lifts are lightweight and corrosion-resistant, making them a good choice for saltwater environments. Steel boat lifts are robust and durable but can rust over time. Fiberglass boat lifts are non-corrosive and UV-resistant, making them a good choice for boats exposed to sunlight.

Boat lifts can be either stationary or portable. Stationary boat lifts are permanently installed at a dock or marina, while portable boat lifts can be moved from one location to another. Portable boat lifts are a good choice for people who do not have a permanent dock or marina, as they can be easily moved to different locations.

Boat lifts come in various sizes, so it is essential to select the size that best suits the boat owner’s needs. Boat lifts can be either single- or double-wide, and they can be either above-ground or in-ground.

Above-ground lifts are typically less expensive than in-ground lifts, but they may require more maintenance. In-ground lifts are more expensive, but they are less likely to experience problems with corrosion.

1. Bottom Standing Lifts

This is the most popular type lift type. It can be used with any size or type of boat. The bottom standing lift uses four posts driven into the ground to support the boat’s weight of the boat. The posts are then connected to a platform raised and lowered using a hydraulic system.

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2. Dock Mounted Lifts

A private dock with dock mounted lifts for boat and jet ski in Lake Washington.

Dock-mounted lifts are similar to bottom-standing lifts but are attached to a dock instead of being driven into the ground. This lift is ideal for boats that are docked in shallow water, as it keeps the boat out of the water when it is not in use.

3. Floating Docks

Floating docks are lifts that are not attached to any fixed structure. They are ideal for boats docked in deep water, as they can be easily moved to different locations.

4. Pontoon Lifts

A photo of pontoon lifts with solar on the river.

Pontoon lifts are similar to floating docks but are explicitly designed for pontoon boats. Pontoon boats are typically larger and heavier than other types of boats, so pontoon lifts need to be able to support their weight. 

5. Piling Mount Lifts

Piling mount lifts are similar to dock-mounted lifts but are attached to piles instead of docks. Piles are long, thin posts that are driven into the ground. This lift is ideal for boats that are docked in shallow water, as it keeps the boat out of the water when it is not in use.

6. Floating Lifts

Small motor boat parked in a private floating dock ready for use anytime.

Floating lifts are similar to pontoon lifts, but they are designed for boats of all sizes. Floating lifts can be used in both shallow and deep water and can be easily moved to different locations.

7. Shore Mounted Lifts

Shore-mounted lifts are similar to bottom-standing lifts, but they are not driven into the ground. Instead, they are attached to a fixed structure on the shore. This lift is ideal for boats that are docked in shallow water, as it keeps the boat out of the water when it is not in use.

8. Hydraulic Lifts

Top and side view of boat being lifted by hydraulic lifts from river.

Hydraulic lifts are similar to bottom-standing lifts, but they use hydraulic cylinders instead of posts to support the boat’s weight. In addition, hydraulic cylinders are much more powerful. As a result, hydraulic lifts can be used with larger and heavier boats.

9. Electric Lifts

Electric lifts are similar to hydraulic lifts but use electric motors instead of hydraulic cylinders to raise and lower the platform. Electric lifts are much quieter than hydraulic lifts, so they are ideal for use in residential areas.

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10. Elevator Boat Lifts

An elevator boat lifts lifting a motor boat named Isabella in a dock Italy.

Elevator boat lifts are similar to bottom standing lifts but use a series of pulleys and cables to raise and lower the platform. Elevator boat lifts are much more expensive than other lifts, but they are ideal for boats docked in deep water.

11. Cradle Lift 

A cradle lift is similar to a bottom standing lift but uses a series of cradles to support the boat’s weight. Cradle lifts are ideal for boats that are docked in shallow water, as they keep the boat out of the water when it is not in use.

12. Roll-on/roll-off Lifts

A photo of rollers for boat at the river.

Roll-on/roll-off lifts are similar to bottom-standing lifts, but they are designed specifically for boats that can be rolled on and off the lift. This lift is ideal for boats that are docked in shallow water, as it keeps the boat out of the water when it is not in use.

13. Swing Arm Lifts

Swing arm lifts are similar to bottom standing lifts but use a series of pulleys and cables to raise and lower the platform. Swing arm lifts are much more expensive than other lifts, but they are ideal for boats docked in deep water.

14. Track Lifts

A boat being transferred to a dry boat storage boat marine railway system.

Track lifts are similar to bottom standing lifts but use a series of tracks to support the boat’s weight. Track lifts are ideal for boats that are docked in shallow water, as they keep the boat out of the water when it is not in use.

15. Trolley Lifts

Trolley lifts are similar to bottom-standing lifts but use a series of pulleys and cables to raise and lower the platform. Trolley lifts are much more expensive than other types of lifts, but they are ideal for boats that are docked in deep water.

16. Custom Lifts

A photo of boat being lifted by custom boat lifts at the garage.

Custom lifts are designed specifically for boats that have unique dimensions or requirements. Custom lifts are much more expensive than other types of lifts, but they are the only option for boats that cannot be accommodated by a standard lift.

17. Sling Lift 

A sling lift is similar to a bottom standing lift but uses a series of pulleys and cables to raise and lower the platform. Sling lifts are much more expensive than other types of lifts, but they are ideal for boats that are docked in deep water.

18. PWC Lifts

A red jet ski parked in a dock with PWC lifts in Salt Lake.

PWC lifts are designed specifically for personal watercraft (PWCs). PWCs are typically smaller and lighter than other types of boats. Therefore, PWC lifts can be used in various sizes and weights.

19. Boat House Lifts

Boat house lifts are designed specifically for boats docked in a boat house. Boat houses typically have limited space, so boat house lifts need to be able to fit in a small area.

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20. Davit Lifts

A photo of a boat lifted using davit lifts.

Davit lifts are similar to bottom standing lifts but use a series of pulleys and cables to raise and lower the platform. Davit lifts are much more expensive than other types of lifts, but they are ideal for boats docked in deep water.

21. Elevator Lifts

Elevator lifts are similar to bottom standing lift, but use a series of pulleys and cables to raise and lower the platform. Elevator lifts are much more expensive than other lifts, but they are ideal for boats docked in deep water.

22. Motorized Lift

Many mechanical motorized lift in Miami Beach.

A motorized lift is a bottom-standing lift that is powered by an electric motor. Motorized lifts are much more expensive than other types of lifts, but they are ideal for boats docked in deep water.

23. Handicap Lifts

Handicap lifts are designed specifically for people with disabilities. Handicap lifts need to accommodate the unique dimensions and requirements of people with disabilities.

24. Vertical Lift

Front view of boat lifted by a vertical lifts for boat at the river.

A vertical lift is a bottom-standing lift designed specifically for boats docked in shallow water. Vertical lifts keep the boat out of the water when it is not in use, which helps to protect the boat from damage.

25. Tunnel Lift

A tunnel lift is a bottom-standing lift that is designed specifically for tunnel boats. Tunnel boats are typically larger and heavier than other types of boats, so tunnel lifts need to be able to support their weight.

26. Cantilever Lifts

A cantilever lift for sale in Amazon isolated in white background.

Cantilever lifts are similar to bottom standing lifts but use a series of pulleys and cables to raise and lower the platform. Cantilever lifts are much more expensive than other lifts, but they are ideal for boats docked in deep water.

27. Portable Lifts

Portable lifts are designed to be moved from one location to another. Portable lifts are typically smaller and lighter than other lift types so that they can be easily transported.

What type of boat lift is best for shallow water?

Bottom standing lifts are the best type of lift for boats that are docked in shallow water. Bottom standing lifts keep the boat out of the water when it is not in use, which helps to protect the boat from damage.

How do I choose a boat lift?

The type of boat lift you choose will depend on many factors, including the size and weight of your boat, the depth of the water, and your budget. You should also consider the specific requirements of your boat, such as the need for a custom lift.

What is the difference between a vertical and cantilever boat life?

A vertical boat lift raises and lowers the boat from a vertical position. A cantilever boat lift raises the boat from a horizontal position. Cantilever lifts are typically more expensive than vertical lifts, but they take up less space.