May 11, 2023

Let’s Talk Lift Capacity

Let’s Talk Lift Capacity

Written by ShoreMaster Marketing

Your boat lift capacity is likely around a couple of thousand pounds. Remember, capacity is not just your boat: it’s your boat, its fuel, and everything on it, with a margin of error just in case. 

Lift capacity is the most important quality of your boat lift and the reason you put so much time and effort into researching and finding the right boat lift for you. You naturally want a boat lift that can easily raise and lower your boat because it makes enjoying the water much easier and safer. Boat lift manufacturers will have capacities for their boat lifts available on their websites, in the spec sheets, and other product information. While boat lifts can handle a lot of weight, the poundage on a boat can add up very quickly, leading to strain and even breakage if you’re not mindful of how much you’re making your lift hold.

ShoreMaster Vertical Lift with Gray Canopy Cover and Infinity RS4 Dock

What Determines a Boat Lift’s Weight Capacity?

Your boat lift can only support the manufacturer’s listed weight capacity, which means being able to account for every pound that the lift is going to be hauling in and out of the water as well as the size and shape of your boat itself. It comes down to four things when determining your boat lift’s capacity:

  • Dry weight: Your boat’s weight before anything is added to it, which is found in your boat’s spec sheet.
  • Fuel weight: Factor in a full tank of gas. Different types and gas formulas will have different weights, but six pounds per gallon multiplied by the number of gallons in your tank is a pretty safe estimate.
  • Additional load: You’re likely not taking an empty boat out onto the water. Passengers, life jackets, swim platforms, water, food, watersports equipment, and more can add up quickly if you’re not careful. Even if you normally store these items in your house, garage, shed, or boat dock, they will add additional weight that your lift needs to support. 
  • Cradle beam length: This is a size consideration more than a weight one, but an important measurement to keep in mind for your boat lift. Measure the widest portion of your boat and add four inches as a cushion on each side.
  • Extra margin: You can’t plan for everything despite your best attempts. You may need to bring some things you didn’t anticipate onto your boat or haul home—factor in a 20% margin of error to accommodate for anything unexpected to cover yourself.

Capacity Considerations 

The capacity limit on your boat lift system is about more than just the boat’s weight. Your boat’s weight is the most important part of your boat lift’s capacity. The capacity information is readily available in the spec sheet for your boat or on the manufacturer’s website. However, that spec sheet lists the dry weight—the boat’s weight with nothing else on it. You’ll also want the “wet weight” of your boat, which includes everything you’re bringing on board with you—fuel, batteries, water, passengers, equipment, and more. You’ll also want to allow a margin of error to be safe, which might mean investing in a larger lift.

The location you’re installing your boat lift will also factor into the capacity considerations. Different types of boat lifts can handle especially shallow or deep conditions better. They may also better accommodate dramatic fluctuations in water level. Rough water also creates more concerns than calm water and needs to be accounted for when planning your waterfront. If you have an HOA or other body with boat height requirements, your style options might be more limited. Do your homework ahead of time to save yourself future frustration.

The materials that your boat lift is made of affect its ability to lift your boat while also standing up to the elements. Marine-grade aluminum, like ShoreMaster boat lifts, is one of the strongest and most durable materials on the market and is an excellent choice for nearly all types of water. It’s the industry standard for a reason: it’s corrosion-resistant, lightweight while maintaining strength and stability, and requires far less maintenance than many other materials. A welded frame ensures that the boat lift is even more durable under pressure than one that bolts together. Stainless steel cables and fittings complement the aluminum nicely for a boat lift that can withstand anything you throw at it.

Can I Increase My Boat Lift Capacity?

Your boat lift has a maximum capacity, and it’s not worth the risk of overloading it. Even if the lift is durable and unlikely to collapse if you exceed the capacity by a few pounds, your boat lift will still experience strain that will shorten its lifespan and increase the likelihood that it will collapse in the future. However, you might want to upgrade your boat in the future, which would mean either increasing your existing lift’s capacity or investing in a new one. Luckily, many boat lifts on the market today have compatible upgrades that can increase their size and lifting capacity to make that upgrade possible. Talk to your dealer as you shop to ensure the models you’re interested in have that option available.

Quality Boat Lifts from ShoreMaster

If you have any questions about boat lift installation or if you’re interested in a ShoreMaster lift, yourn local ShoreMaster dealer can help. Our dealer network stretches across North America, and there’s sure to be one in your area that knows our products and the water you boat on better than anyone. For more information, fill out our online contact form so we can put you in touch with your local ShoreMaster dealer.