Air Hoists

Air Hoists / Pneumatic Hoist

Air hoists or pneumatic hoists use pneumatic air systems to operate instead of electrical power. Pneumatics is a branch of engineering which uses compressed air. An air compressor unit sucks in atmospheric air and usually removes the naturally occurring moisture from it; the dry air is then pushed through pipes to power the air chain hoist.

Where can Air Hoists be used

Handy, flexible and universally deployable, an air chain hoist make the ideal tool for lifting and handling and manufacturing applications. An air hoist is commonly utilised in many industries including assembly lines, aircraft construction, shipyards and engineering. Pneumatic hoists can also be used in areas which could be deemed hazardous to use electrics. Such places could include power plants, chemical plants, paint shops, oil refineries, foundries, mines and oil storage facilities. 

Advantages of Pneumatic Hoists

An air chain hoist typically has duty cycles of 100%, there is no need for a rest period as minimal heat is produced due to the air power.

Simplistic in design pneumatic hoists use cylinders and other components, with easy operation using on-off control functions.

Low maintenance and long life operation due to minimal components is a key benefit to pneumatic hoists.

Resistant to dirt and dust ingression; Impervious to heat, vapours, high temperatures and humidity.

Less likely to experience shock damage due to the use of compressed air.

Very low fire risk

Air hoists commonly incorporate an overload device for additional safety.

Light in weight – up to 40-50% lighter than similar electric hoists.

Cleaner to operate with low environmental impact.

Braking systems incorporated.

Can be used in hazardous environments

Using A Pneumatic Hoist

Air chain hoist, or pneumatic hoists normally use a pendant type control box with simple up and down control buttons.
These hoists should be operated by trained personnel and are used for lifting loads/materials not to lift people.

Pneumatic hoists which are used outside should be protected from the elements. It is very important to regularly check your air hoist and its components including the air hoist compressor unit for potential operating problems. Daily checks of the braking system, emergency stops, and lifting / lowering limits should be carried out. Air hoist Chains should be checked and re-lubricated on a monthly basis. All other parts and components should be thoroughly inspected at least on a yearly basis by trained inspection engineers.

You should never use an air chain hoist in certain areas, such as nuclear plants (critical areas) or where organic acids or corrosive materials are present, nor over acid baths. 

Air Power

Air hoists normally use 4 bar or 6 bar air pressure, this helps avoid underperformance or overloading. Air supplies must always be dry, clean and free-flowing for the air hoist to operate unhindered.

Here are some useful pressure and air flow conversions;


Kilograms per square cm                x by 14.226         to get pounds per square inch (PSI)

Bar                                           x by 14.503         to get pounds per square inch (PSI)

Pounds per square inch (psi)            x by 0.6984         to get Bar

Pounds per square inch (psi)            x by 0.0703         to get kilograms/cm²


Cubic foot per minute (cfm)             x by 0.02832       to get  cubic metres per minute (m3/min)

Cubic foot per minute (cfm)            x by 0.4719          to get  Litre per second (l/sec)

Litre per second(l/sec)                   x by 2.118           to get   cubic foot per metre (cfm)

Litre per second (l/sec)                  x by 0.001           to get  cubic metre per second (M3/sec)

Cubic metre per minute (M3/min)    x by 16.6666        to get   Litre per second (l/sec)

Cubic metre per minute (M3/min)    x by  35.3146       to get   Cubic foot per minute (cfm) 

What to look out for when purchasing

There are certain features which all good quality pneumatic hoists should incorporate. They should include safety elements like load brakes, emergency stop devices, shock loading protection, upper & lower limit switches and hooks with safety catches.

Other good features of an air hoist include; variable speed control, choice of control device, planetary gearboxes, vane motors. As well as integrated trolleys, low noise levels, self-cooling motors, main air valve shut off features and quality calibrated load chain.

Lifting Hoists Direct can supply air hoists from leading manufacturers for guaranteed quality, with models available with working load limits up to 50 tonne.