Industry news — Selecting the Right Chain Block

Selecting the Right Chain Block

Manual and electric chain blocks are used for a variety of lifting reasons however selecting the correct chain block for your application can be a confusing task. The below check list created by RANGER will help you determine how to select the correct chain block for your application.



Depending on the manufacturer, 250kg and 500kg increments will usually stop being offered after 3 tonnes of capacity. What does this mean for you? If your load is just over 3 tonnes in weight, you may have to upgrade to a 4 tonne chain hoist to ensure a safe pick and proper functioning of your new chain hoist.



To determine lift you will need to know two critical pieces of information. First, where will your chain block hang from; and secondly where will the load to be picked be located in relation to the chain hoist. Finding your lift number will be nothing more than subtracting the resting location of the item to be picked from the hanging location of the hoist.

For example, if your item to be picked is located on the factory floor, and the beam the chain block sits on is at a height of 30m, then you will need at least 30m of chain lift with your new block. When in doubt, always add a couple metres of metres to be safe; chain is sold per metre and it can not be added to the existing chain.

For example, if it turns out you will need 7m of lift, you will have to order a completely new chain which can cost hundreds of dollars; if you had added 1 extra metre to your lift before ordering your chain block, the difference would probably be within $25 – $50 per metre. It’s a costly mistake that can easily be avoided.



Traditional speeds can range from 0.9m per minute to 9.7m per minute. Some new hoists, especially air hoists can lift around 30m per minute.

The speed in which we lift items will be dependent upon a multitude of factors; the primary factor being safety. Some of the factors that must be known to safely pick a lifting speed are the following: What will be lifted? Is it fragile? Could it break/snap if it is jolted off the ground too quickly (such as a large piece of glass/stone)? What is the surrounding environment like? Is there adequate space around the pick to safely operate the chain block at the desired speed? Again, this question is usually best answered under the direction of a professional in the field.



If you will be using single phase power, you will have to determine if the volt supply is 240 (what we find in our homes). Larger factories and industrial workplaces will usually be running on three phase power; three phase voltages range from 240 to 415.

If you do not have this information, you should reach out to your power supply company; choosing the wrong voltage can instantly fry your new hoist, costing you thousands of dollars in replacement costs before you even get to use it.



The pendant control cable length is known as “push button drop” in the lifting industry. This is how far down from the chain block you would like the hand control to hang in the air.

There are times when the pendant drop will have to be a special length, and not the standard 1 metre less than lift. For example, some applications call for a chain block to lift an item from a hole in the floor that goes below floor level. In this situation you could have 10m of lift, but the factory floor may be only 6 metres below the where the block hangs. If we applied the standard rule, our pendant drop would be 9m below the chain block, but that means the operator standing at 6m below the chain hoist will have 3m of extra cable dragging on the floor, a serious safety hazard. In this instance, the pendant drop would deviate from the standard and we would specially order the drop to be 5m so the pendant hangs 1m above the factory floor, an ergonomic position for most people. Radio control options are now readily available which will eliminate the pendant altogether.



There are two common options for suspending or hanging a chain block, Hook mount or Lug mount. With Hook mount, the chain block will come from the factory with a hook attached to the top of the body. This hook will rest inside an opening on the trolley, a rolling device that rests on the Beam (explained in greater detail below).

There are two common types of hooks available, rigid and swivel. The rigid hook is just as it sounds, it does not swivel and therefore the chain hoist can not rotate 360 degrees on the trolley as in the case with a “swivel” hook. The swivel hook is also just as it sounds, allowing for the chain hoist to spin clockwise or counter clockwise during operation.

Next is the Lug suspension option. A lug suspension is available on almost all chain blocks, and becomes particularly useful when there is limited headroom for mounting and operating the block. A lug suspension forgoes the hook we discussed above, and makes the block mountable to the trolley with just a couple of bolts/lugs.



The pendant control cable length is known as “push button drop” in the lifting industry. This is how far down from the chain block you would like the hand control to hang in the air.

There are a few different options when choosing a trolley, but first lets define what a trolley is. A trolley is a device that rests and rolls along the Beam your chain hoist will operate from. There are 3 common types of trolleys.

A plain trolley is the simplest form of trolley available. As discussed above, the hoist will hang from this trolley by either a hook or lug mount. A plain trolley will move the chain hoist along the Beam by human power via the hoist operator. The operator will grab either the hook or the item being lifted and pull or push the item to move it in the desired direc-tion along the Beam. Typically utilised for loads below 2 tonne.

A geared trolley is the next step up in ergonomics. With this option, the chain hoist operator will pull on a chain hanging from the trolley (much like a manual overhead door operator), and the trolley will use it’s gears to roll the trolley wheels along the Beam instead of human push/pull power as we discussed with the plain trolley. When ordering a geared trolley, one must specify the hand chain drop required. Standard hand chain drop is 1m less than lift height, similar to the pendant station or push button drop we discussed earlier.

The motorized trolley option is the most ergonomic of all the options we’ve covered. This option is exactly what it sounds like, instead of a plain push/pull trolley, or manual geared trolley, this trolley will have a motor attached to the side of the trolley wheels. A motorized trolley can have it’s own control pendant that will hang down from the beam in close proximity to the chain hoist pendant.