In our previous post, Boat Lift Motors for Freestanding Boat Lifts, we presented an overview of the various styles or types of lift motors available. Due to the interest and the sheer amount of questions we have received, we have decided that a more in-depth article that focuses on each of the available options was required. In this article we will be going deeper into each brand of lift motor and discussing and comparing each; making your choice as informed as possible.

The selection of a boat lift motor is one that essentially requires a careful blend of actual needs and personal preference.  Far more than merely basing your choice on the lift requirements of your watercraft, the type of motor you ultimately choose should also consider the style or manner of function of the motor.

In this article we will describe several different styles of motor, each, in its own way, gets the job done.  Yet, the differences in functionality are to be addressed with particular attention to your comfort level. When the lift unit is in operation the movement of the heavy cradle and the boat is accomplished through the movement of a gear assembly which in turn operates a winch and cable network. In some styles all of the moving parts of the motor are inside a sturdy case, while in others, the parts that apply the necessary lift are exposed.

Neither of these styles is dangerous in operation, yet they each should be used with due diligence and respect; the same respect that you would give to any industrial rated piece of equipment. The two main styles of boat lift motor are the Direct Drive and the Friction/Wheel to Wheel Drive motor.  The difference between these two styles is based on the method by which the motor applies its capacity to lift the cradle of the boat lift.

The Direct Drive options, particularly the Lift Tech™ and Extreme Max/Boat Lift Boss™, use a gear system to essentially replace the lift wheel on your lift, turn the sprocket, and operate the winch. One other Direct Drive or Chain Drive unit, named the Sidewinder, uses a chain to turn the sprocket and thus operate the winch.

The Friction/Wheel to Wheel Drive motor, offered by Lift Mate™, Shore Riser™, ShoreStation™, and Lift Tech™, uses a rubber wheel in conjunction with the lift wheel. Through the application of pressure and friction, the motor turns a rubber wheel that through contact with the outside of the lift wheel, turns the wheel and operates the winch.  In a separate article, we will discuss another lift motor option; the 3000lb capacity Heavy Hoist motor, which is an Open Gear/Flat Plate motor designed for boat house lifts.


Direct Drive/Worm Drive:

As we stated above, these types of units use a gear assembly to generate the necessary torque and lift that will operate the winch and cable network.  The direct drive units use a worm gear assembly that allows for an increase in torque and a slower rotational speed, both of which give this type of drive an increased lift capacity.  All of the lift motors are available in both DC and AC power options and are designed for free-standing boat lifts.  The DC options are designed to work with 12v and 24v, deep cycle marine batteries, while all of the AC options will require an 110vAC or 120vAC wired power source which includes a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). It is our recommendation that a licensed electrician inspects and/or installs the GFCI in order that all safety requirements are met and any insurance issues are avoided.

    • Lift Tech : Lift Tech offers a 7000lb capacity direct drive unit in either a DC or AC power option, with manual (toggle/turn-key), remote or tethered remote (pendent) operation options.  The DC power version of this motor can be modified, through the use of a jumper cable, to work with two 12V batteries; doubling its power and speed.  These units feature a variable frequency drive to regulate the speed as well as a “soft start” feature that will limit the amount of draw or spike when the unit is activated; reducing any chance of tripping a circuit breaker.  In the event that your batteries are dead or your shore power is out, these units include a driver bit that can be attached to a drill (cordless or powered) that will fit onto a bit built into the unit.  This will allow you to raise and lower your lift. For more information about direct drive motors or to purchase, check out our selection of Lift Tech Marine Direct Drive Motors.

    • Extreme Max-Boat lift Boss: The Extreme Max™ is a direct drive unit that employs the same type of worm gear as the Lift Tech™ but has a lift capacity of 6200lbs.  This unit is available in 12vDC and 120vAC and can be operated manually (turn-key or toggle) as well as with a remote or pendant.  When selecting any of the motors discussed here, it is necessary for you to determine and select the appropriate hardware when buying the unit.  This unit also includes a back-up driver bit for operations in the absence of adequate battery or shore power. For more information or to purchase, check out our selection of Extreme Max Boat Lift Boss Motors.


Chain Drive:

  • Sidewinder Free standing Lift Motor: This chain driven unit is categorized as a direct drive unit because, as with the Lift Tech™ and Boat Lift Boss™ motors, this 7000lb capacity motor will replace the existing lift wheel and operate the winch through direct manipulation of the spline or wheel sprocket.  One of the key elements that distinguish the direct drive motor is the enclosed nature of the design.  All of the moving parts are encased within a sturdy housing that prevents any direct contact with the gear assembly.  This added safety feature also gives the direct drive option a sleek appearance and reduces the amount of exposure of the gear assembly to the elements. If this style of motor seems like the one for your needs, the following link will get you to our selection of Sidewinder motors.

All of the motors discussed above are built with heavy duty materials and tested to ensure that they operate safely and are capable of lifting the necessary weight.  These  units replace the original lift wheel and attach directly to the spline or “sprocket”, activating the winch and cable assembly to lift your craft.  In part two of this article we will discuss the primary alternative to the direct drive style of lift motor, the Wheel to wheel or friction drive. There are significant differences in design and functionality between these two styles and a more in depth discussion is required.

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