Handset Charge vs Dock Charge vs Continuous Charge – Which Ceiling Hoist Charging Method is Best for me?

Published On: 26th April 2022

15 Minute Read

If you’re in the market for a new ceiling hoist and track installation, you might have questions about the type of ceiling hoist and charging method that will work best for you and your environment. Whilst it’s great to have many options, it can also be overwhelming to know which one to choose.

The questions we get asked a lot are What is the difference between the ceiling hoist charging options? and Which ceiling hoist charging method is best for me?

Here at Medaco, we think it’s important to give an honest comparison of the different methods, with everything you need to know, so the decision is easier for you.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The difference between handset charge, dock charge and continuous charge
  • The advantages and disadvantages of the different ceiling hoist charge methods
  • The different scenarios they are best suited for and not suited for

Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll have a greater sense of which ceiling hoist charging method is the right choice for you.

Of course, if you still need advice and guidance, get in touch with Medaco and we can talk you through the different options to help you decide which is best for you.

Handset Charge (Wall Mounted Charge)

Care Staff charge handset charge hoists through the operational handset, by placing the handset in a wall-mounted charging station. The handset has charging connections on the back for charging through the charging station.

The handset charge method is becoming popular in all care settings as more people are made aware of them. Most care environments suit this charging method, such as care homes, schools and hospitals. It’s an easy to use charge method which is suitable for most budgets, both for the initial cost of the installation and ongoing repair costs.


Handset charge ceiling hoists are also suitable for wet environments because the charging contacts are small and discreet, so at low risk of water damage. However, if you submerge the handset or operate it with wet hands, this will cause damage both to the operational buttons and the charging connections. The charging station can be placed at eye level, which has lower heat and humidity than at the ceiling level where the other charging methods are located.

Because the handset needs to be placed in a charging station, which needs to be mounted on the wall, this charge method isn’t suitable for rooms where the track doesn’t pass by or reach a wall, pillar, etc. This is where one of the other methods might be more suitable.


Advantages of Choosing Handset Charge

  • Easy way to Charge a Hoist When care staff finish using the hoist, they need to do something with the handset, so they are more likely to put it in the charging station to keep it charged.

  • Flexible for Rooms with Obstacles in the Corner The charging station can be mounted on any wall, it doesn’t need to be in a corner of the room (like it would need to be for the dock charge method). This is useful if there are obstacles to consider. As the charging station can be mounted virtually anywhere in the room, it can be positioned in a convenient position (e.g. near the door) to make it easier for staff to put on charge again, when they leave the room.

  • Easy to see if it’s on Charge – The wall charger can be mounted at a user-friendly height ensuring staff can visibly see the LED charge lights, to check whether it’s on charge.

  • Cost Effective Solution – Handset charge hoists are one of the most cost effective charging methods for ceiling hoists

  • Easy to Repair If there is a problem with the charging station, Medaco can send a new one directly to you for your maintenance team or caretaker to replace. This reduces call out charges and labour costs of an engineer.

Disadvantages of Choosing Handset Charge

  • A Common Cause of Breakdowns Handsets are used to operate the hoist as well as to charge the hoist. Unfortunately, in some facilities, staff misuse the handset by using it to pull the hoist unit along the rail. This is not what the handset is designed for, so this misuse can break the cables within the handset wire, stopping it from charging. You must use the lift tape to move the hoist along the rail. Staff may not realise it has suffered damage, as the operational functions (up/down) may still work, but the charging method no longer works – until the hoist unit runs out completely and becomes unusable. You can resolve this issue through staff awareness and training.

Dock Charge (End of Rail Charging)

A dock charge ceiling hoist uses a charging docking station mounted on the end of the track. To charge the hoist on a straight track, you simply move the hoist unit along the track slowly until it connects with the dock. To charge the hoist on an H system (X/Y tracking) staff need to move the hoist unit along to the end of the moving rail and then push the moving rail along to the end of the fixed rails.

Dock charge or end of rail charging hoists are suitable for many care environments and those with a smaller budget. Also suitable for rooms where the track doesn’t reach a wall for handset charge, for example, if the track is best placed in the middle of a school classroom.


Because the dock has to be at the end of one of the rails, this charge method might not be suitable in smaller nursing homes; if room features, such as windows, door frames or wardrobes, impede the hoist charging area.

You can use dock charge hoists in wet environments as there is less surface metal on show than continuous charge options, so less chance of corrosion occurring quickly. However, there can still be issues with this charge method in these environments, as the charging dock is at the ceiling level where the heat and humidity rise.


Advantages of Choosing Dock Charge

  • Cost Effective Solution – Dock charge hoists are one of the more cost effective charging methods for ceiling hoists

  • Easy to Repair (if there is space at the end of the rail or if the dock clips to the outside) If there is a problem with the dock charge unit and there is space to remove it from the end of the rail, then an engineer can repair it fairly easily. Some ceiling hoist systems (e.g. Liko) have charging docks that clip to the outside of the rail, making any repairs/replacements very easy. This is an important point to consider when buying a ceiling hoist.

Disadvantages of Choosing Dock Charge

  • Difficult to Repair (if there isn’t space at the end of the rail, or if the charging dock is inside the rail)   In contrast to the advantage above. If there isn’t space at the end of the rail to remove the dock charge, or the charging dock is inside the rail, then the whole track might need to come down to repair it. This not only costs more to repair but also increases the downtime and disruption of the equipment. Make sure you ask your supplier about this if considering a dock charge ceiling hoist.

  • A Common Cause of Breakdowns Dock charge hoists have common issues with not charging correctly. Staff can forget to move them to the end of the rail or corner of the room to charge them. Alternatively, they might push the hoist towards the end of the rail without checking it has connected properly, as charge lights are not always as visible with this type of charging method. This causes issues with the batteries depleting. You can reduce this by providing staff training on how to use and charge the hoist correctly, as well as signs or posters to remind them.

  • Limited Layout Options   Dock charge systems have to charge at the end of the rail. This means with a single rail, it has to be at one end, and with an H system, it has to be in one of the four corners. This means you can’t always position the charger in the most user-friendly position in the room. If staff have to walk to the opposite end of the room, to charge the hoist before leaving, they might forget, which is one reason they don’t always get left on charge.

Continuous Charge (In Rail Charging)

Continuous charge or in-rail charging (IRC), is where you can charge the hoist motor unit anywhere along the rail as the charging connections are within the track. During active lifting, the continuous charging system will ‘pause’ and then automatically re-activate charging when the hoist motor is stationary along the rail. Staff not putting the ceiling hoist back on charge is one of the common reasons for emergency call-outs, so this could be a solution if your staff tell you they don’t have time to put the hoist back on charge.


A continuous charge hoist is best suited for busy, high use areas such as hospitals and schools. We commonly see this type of charge used in SEND schools where staff need to make many lifts within a classroom. You can also choose a continuous charge if the layout or shape of the room can’t accommodate a handset charge or dock charge method, but this is uncommon.


This charging method isn’t the best-suited solution for wet environments, as the charging connections within the rail corrode easily. This type of system can also be difficult with a complex layout that might need bends in the track, gates or turntables.

Advantages of Choosing Continuous Charge

  • Saves Time for Care Staff – As you can continuously charge the ceiling hoist anywhere along the rail, care staff don’t have to take the hoist to a charging station, which is at the end of the rail or on the wall for the other methods.

  • Prolongs the Lifespan of the Batteries – Because of the continuous charge, the batteries don’t suffer as much failure through lack of charging or someone accidentally taking it off charge. Although, whilst continuous charge keeps batteries working for longer than the other two methods, it doesn’t eliminate the need for changing batteries over the lifespan of the hoist unit.

  • Fewer Breakdowns – The nature of the charge method means the batteries last longer and so this causes fewer breakdowns because of battery related issues.

Disadvantages of Choosing Continuous Charge

  • More Expensive Solution  Because of the components needed and the more advanced manufacturing process, this is the most costly option out of these charging methods. Medaco can help you assess if this is the best solution for your needs and budget.

  • Takes Longer to Repair if Something goes Wrong If there is a charging issue, such as a break in the ‘charger pickup’, or there is a problem with the charging contacts in the rail, the whole or majority of the system may need to be taken down to access the fault. This means your hoist might be out of action for a long duration whilst an engineer diagnoses the fault and fixes it.

  • Higher Costs if Something goes Wrong – If the rails need to be taken down, this almost always means a second visit, and could take a couple of engineers up to a full day to repair, which increases the labour costs you’ll pay.

So, Which Ceiling Hoist Charge Method is Best for you?

One of the common causes of breakdowns for ceiling hoists is the batteries becoming depleted or flat, as it’s important to charge batteries regularly. When choosing a ceiling hoist charge method, you need to consider the environment it’s going to be used in, how staff will use the ceiling hoist, and what your budget is for ceiling hoists and tracks.

Most care environments with regular use of ceiling hoists and a smaller budget will benefit from a dock or handset charge ceiling hoist.

If you have maintenance teams that are happy to carry out minor repairs themselves, then handset charge would be the most suitable option.

Care environments with heavy use, such as Special Educational Needs Schools, might benefit from a continuous charge ceiling hoist if they have the extra budget for this charging method. If the budget is a constraint, then you might find dock or handset charge ceiling hoists more suitable. Medaco has many SEND School customers that use these two charge methods with no problems.

Medaco is a leading supplier of moving and handling equipment to schools, care homes and hospitals. We design, supply and install ceiling hoists and tracks ranging from simple straight track and H systems (complete room covering) to complex layouts for different requirements.

If you’re interested in learning more, read this article on What Affects the Costs of Ceiling Hoist Installations.

If you’d like to talk to a ceiling hoist specialist, request a callback or schedule a meeting with our experts. We’d be happy to help you with your next ceiling hoist project.

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2023-01-31T12:17:01+00:0026th April 2022|News & Insights|