Cable-drawn Boat Lift vs Hydraulic Lift: The Difference

Dock lifts and boat lifts are important equipment for boat owners as they help move boats from the water to the dock or vice versa, simplifying the process of launching and storing boats. There are two main types of lifts available: cable-drawn lifts and hydraulic lifts. This article will highlight the distinctions between these two types of lifts.

Cable-Drawn Boat Lifts

A cable-drawn lift is a traditional type of boat lift that uses cables and pulleys to lift your boat. The cables are attached to the four corners of a cradle or platform that supports your boat. The cables are wound around a shaft that is driven by an electric motor. When the motor rotates the shaft, the cables pull the cradle up or down along vertical beams or pilings.

Cable-drawn dock lifts are usually classified as vertical or cantilever. Vertical dock lifts have parallel upper beams that contain the shafts and motors. Cantilever lifts have pivoting angled upper beams. Cable-drawn lifts, regardless of the type, can support boats of different shapes and sizes, including pontoons and fishing boats.

Hydraulic Boat Lifts

A hydraulic lift is a modern type of lift that uses hydraulics to lift your boat. Hydraulic systems use pressurized fluid to transfer power and movement. In a hydraulic boat lift, the system comprises hydraulic cylinders connected to a control system and pump. The pump sends fluid into the cylinders, which move up or down to raise or lower the boat.

After careful design and engineering, hydraulic lifts are typically constructed as cantilever lifts, omitting the use of upper beams or cables. Alternatively, they can be installed as low-profile lifts, enabling easy access to the boat from a boarding platform. With their ability to handle heavy loads and fast speeds, hydraulic lifts are an ideal choice for large yachts and speedboats.

What are the Pros and Cons of Cable-Drawn Boat Lifts?

Cable-drawn dock lifts have some advantages and disadvantages compared to hydraulic  lifts. Here are some of them:


1. Cable-drawn lifts are cost-effective compared to hydraulic boat lifts.

2. The initial costs and maintenance expenses for cable-drawn lifts are lower.

3. Cable-drawn lifts offer greater versatility as they can be installed in various water conditions, including deep water, shallow bays, and fluctuating water levels.

4. Cable-drawn boat lifts are durable and can handle harsh weather conditions and saltwater corrosion better than hydraulic lifts.


1. Cable-drawn lifts are more complex compared to hydraulic lifts due to having more moving parts and requiring more adjustments and lubrication.

2. Cable-drawn lifts are less reliable than hydraulic lifts as they are susceptible to cable wear and tear, pulley failure, and motor breakdown.

3. Cable-drawn lifts are less convenient to operate as they tend to be slower and louder than hydraulic boat lifts.

What are the Pros and Cons of Hydraulic Boat Lifts?

Hydraulic boat lifts have some advantages and disadvantages compared to cable-drawn boat lifts. Here are some of them:


1. Hydraulic lifts are considered to be more efficient than cable-drawn boat lifts, as they consume less energy and operate faster and smoother.

2. Hydraulic lifts are more reliable than cable-drawn boat lifts, as they have fewer moving parts, require less maintenance and repairs, and are less prone to cable wear and tear or pulley failure.

3. Hydraulic boat lifts offer greater convenience compared to cable-drawn dock lifts, as they come with remote control operation and provide easy access to boats.


1. While hydraulic lifts are efficient, they are more costly than cable-drawn boat lifts, as they have higher initial and installation costs.

2. Hydraulic lifts are less versatile than cable-drawn boat lifts, as they require more water depth and clearance to operate effectively.

3. Hydraulic lifts are more sensitive than cable-drawn boat lifts to leaks, contamination, and temperature changes in the hydraulic fluid.

Golden Boat Lifts is committed to producing top-quality, reliable, user-friendly, and visually appealing lifts. Using the latest technology, advanced techniques, and skilled professionals, we guarantee the highest quality standards for our dock lifts. Our preference for welded aluminum frames over bolted frames is based on their superiority.

With thirty years of experience in boat lift manufacturing, we are proud of our reputation and welcome you to compare our company and products with others in the industry. Our satisfied customers trust Golden Boat Lifts for their boat lift needs.

CATEGORY: Boat Lift, Dock Lift