Generally, lifts are powered by an electric powerhead, a hydraulic drive, or a manual wheel. The drive turns a drive pole around which the lift cable is wound.

Although they vary somewhat among manufacturers, the following lists the basic types of lifts:


The top beams contain the drive poles around which the cables are wrapped.

Beamless lifts make entering and exiting the boat easier.


Boathouse lifts may be suspended from separate beams (as shown here), or from a central beam. 

Elevator lifts may be angled or vertical (plumb).

Trident boat lifts are used at canal ends or other places where space is limited.