A boat lift offers numerous benefits to boat owners, from preventing unwanted damage to your boat to increasing the longevity of your investment. Determining the right boat lift for your application is crucial to protecting your watercraft. There are many options for boat lifts on the market, and some things you should consider when choosing a boat lift include boat size, waterfront space, water level, water fluctuations and building ordinances. Another thing you may wonder when deciding on an investment is whether a boat lift's capacity can be increased if you upgrade your boat or make changes in the future.
The weight of your boat and your capacity needs is one of the most important elements in determining what type of boat lift to purchase. Learning how to measure your boat's maximum mass will help guide you to the type and size of boat lift that is suitable for your needs.
What Is Boat Lift Capacity?
Boat lift capacity is the maximum weight your boat lift can adequately support without strain. Some lifts are designed to hold more weight than others, so choosing a boat lift that coincides with the weight of your boat is critical. Boat lifts have capacity limits that can range from as little as one thousand pounds to boats weighing as much as a couple hundred thousand pounds. Many individual lifts, like hydraulic options, can accommodate capacities ranging from 1,200 to 12,000 pounds.
Choosing a lift with adequate capacity is extremely important for both safety and to ensure proper operation and protection of your boat for years to come.
Capacity Considerations When Choosing a Boat Lift
There are a few important considerations when choosing a lift with the proper capacity for your boat. Be sure to keep the following aspects in mind:
Your Boat's Weight
The weight of your boat is the most important aspect to consider when determining the lift capacity you'll need. Boat manufacturer specifications often include the "dry" weight of your boat, which is the weight without any fluids or accessories added. However, you'll also need to consider the "wet" weight, which includes fuel, batteries, passengers and other equipment. The wet weight is a bit arbitrary, but a helpful rule to follow is err on the high side and size up to allow a safety margin.
The depth and flow of the water in the area where you will install the lift is also important to consider. For example, certain lifts can accommodate shallow, deep or frequently fluctuating water levels. Areas with rougher water will also need special consideration. Your dock's location is a critical factor because you'll want to find a lift that can handle your capacity in the conditions around your dock.
Boat Lift Materials
Since boat lifts are lifting and holding thousands of pounds, it's important to consider the material they're made of to ensure the lift is engineered to withstand years of use. Marine-grade aluminum is one of the best materials for boat lifts and is the industry standard. Not only can it withstand corrosion, but it is also lightweight and low-maintenance. Marine grade aluminum offers strength and stability in various conditions. Stainless steel fittings and cables and a welded frame construction add to a boat lift's longevity. Be sure to choose a boat lift that is built with these superior elements, such as RGC Marine Boat Lifts.
How to Determine Boat Lift Capacity
Now that you know what to consider when choosing a boat lift, it's essential to understand how to determine the necessary capacity to hold your boat. Here are a few steps to help you calculate what the boat lift capacity should be for your watercraft:
- Determine your boat's dry weight: The easiest way to find your boat's dry weight is to check the specification sheet. If you do not have the spec sheet, most boat manufacturers post specification sheets on their websites. If you have an older model boat, you may be able to find your boat's weight by looking up the make and model.
- Calculate the fuel weight: It's important to add the weight of a full tank of gas into your capacity calculation. This number will vary depending on the type of fuel, though a good estimation to use is six pounds per gallon. Multiply this number by the total tank capacity of your boat to estimate the weight of the fuel.
- Include the weight of additional items: When you load up your boat to go out on the water, you'll be packing additional items on the vehicle while it's still on the lift. Whether you leave these items on the boat or store them in the house afterward, it's important to consider what the weight of these items may be. This calculation could include passengers, life jackets, swim platforms, tubes, skis, coolers and more.
- Consider the cradle beam length: Another way to ensure you're getting the right size boat lift is to measure the widest portion of your boat and add four inches to both sides. Use this length to find the correct size lift cradle beam. The cradle should be a few extra inches bigger than the boat for a safety cushion.
Remember to add a safety margin to your total capacity calculation. This additional measurement is to accommodate for any unexpected factors and ensure you have some room for more capacity if necessary.
Can I Increase Boat Lift Capacity?
Boat lift owners sometimes ask if a boat lift can be modified to accommodate a different boat size. Over time, boat owners may upgrade to a new boat and wonder if their current boat lift will fit the different size and weight of this new boat. Boat owners should always ensure that a new boat fits properly on the existing boat lift and does not exceed the boat lift’s weight capacity. While it may be possible to upgrade some lifts to change the capacity of a boat lift, you should always consult with an RGC dealer or contact us directly before modifying a boatlift to ensure safety.
Contact RGC Marine for All Your Boat Lift Capacity Questions
RGC Marine is your source of high-quality boat lifts and knowledge regarding your boat lift capacity. We offer several lifts that allow for a wide range of capacity limits. Our boat lifts are crafted for all types of boats, both large and small. We design our products with you in mind — they're durable, functional and low-maintenance so you can enjoy your time and space by the water.
With over 75 years of industry experience, we have the expertise to help you with your lift and docking needs. Contact our team at RGC Marine with any questions or for help finding the right boat lift.