What’s the Difference Between Pilot Air and Full Air for Powering Hoists?

Shupper-Brickle Equipment Co12/ 6/23

If you’re shopping for an air chain hoist, you will need to know whether Pilot air or full air power is used in the facility. Pilot air and full air describe types of air pressure used to control an air-powered hoist's functions. Let’s look at each type of air pressure power so you can understand the differences and choose the right air chain hoist for your specific application.

Pilot Air-Powered Chain Hoists

Pilot air refers to a control system where a small amount of compressed air is used to control the operation of the hoist.  In a pilot air system, a separate pilot valve is used to regulate the flow of air to the hoist's main control valve.

When the operator activates the pilot valve (usually by pushing a button or lever), it directs a small amount of air to the main control valve, which then regulates the flow of compressed air to the hoist motor or cylinder.

Recommended Pilot Air Powered Hoist

This type of control system allows for precise and proportional control over the hoist's speed and direction.

For a hoist that uses Pilot air, we recommend the Budgit Hoists Series 2200. The 2200 Budgit Air Hoists feature a pull cord control that provides accurate control of the loads due to its lightweight design and aluminum frame. They also offer accurate load spotting, making them a great choice for specialized lifting applications. Contact us with the details of your application for a more specific recommendation of a hoist that uses pilot air.

Full Air Powered Chain Hoists

Full air, on the other hand, refers to a control system where the entire air supply to the hoist is used to operate its functions.

In a full air system, there is no separate pilot valve. The main control valve is directly actuated by the operator, and it controls the flow of compressed air to the hoist motor or cylinder.

When the operator engages the controls (e.g., by pressing a lever), the main control valve allows a full flow of compressed air to operate the hoist at full capacity.

Recommended Full Air Powered Hoist

Full air systems are often simpler in design and may be less precise in terms of control compared to pilot air systems.

For full air pressure, we recommend the Budgit Hoists series 6000 model. It features continuous duty service for precise, infinitely variable speed and accurate load spotting. This line of air powered chain hoists also features an internal muffler that reduces the operation noise, a throttle valve for smooth operation, and overload protection. Let us know your specifications, and we’ll help you find the best full air pressure powered hoist for the job.

Full Air Hoist vs Pilot Air Hoist

The choice between pilot air and full air depends on the specific application and the level of control required. Pilot air systems are typically used when precise speed and direction control are essential, such as in applications that require lifting delicate or sensitive loads. Full air systems may be suitable for simpler applications where precise control is not as critical, and simplicity and robustness are more important.

Whichever air hoist you choose, it's important to consult the manufacturer's documentation and guidelines for a specific air hoist model to understand which control system it uses and how to operate it safely and effectively.

Air-Powered Chain Hoists from Shupper-Brickle Equipment

Since 1969, Shupper-Brickle has provided hoists, overhead cranes and material handling equipment to the Mid-Atlantic states and worldwide. Learn more about the air hoists brands we offer or read our blog posts on air hoists purchasing.  Feel free to contact us about your hoisting application.