One of the best things you can do for your jet ski when you’re not riding it is to keep it out of the water.
This is easy to do if you have a trailer, but what if you live on the water or keep your jet ski at a marina? The solution is simple, you get a jet ski lift.
While the idea is simple, it leaves more questions that need answered, and that is what I want to do in this post.
What Is A Jet Ski Lift?
A jet ski lift, hoist, or drive-up floating lift, all do the same thing, get your jet ski out of the water.
There are several reasons you want to keep your jet ski out of the water, but here are the big ones.
- Keeps it from sinking, they don’t have bilge pumps on many models.
- Stops a lot of the corrosion.
- Keeps scum and debris off the bottom of the jet ski.
- Makes it harder for animals to eat your jet ski, muskrats love the rubber hoses at the jet pump.
- Helps stop the jet ski from getting damaged during a heavy storm, compared to leaving the PWC floating in the water.
Even the jet ski manufacturers agree, it’s best to keep your jet ski out of the water when you’re done riding for the day. It won’t hurt to leave the jet ski in the water for a few days, so long as it’s fresh water, but it’s a big no-no for saltwater.
Types Of Jet Ski Lifts
There are two major types of jet ski lifts, the drive-up and hoist.
There are many variations of the two lifts, from the professional to the homemade options. You also have different variations on the hoist, some are made for just one jet ski, and others lift an entire platform of jet skis.
1. Drive-Up Lift
The drive-up lift is the most common jet ski lift you can get, and often the cheapest and easiest one too.
Just like the name suggests, you drive the whole jet ski up and on to the lift.
There are wheels on the lift that roll the jet ski onto and off the dock. You can see how easy it is to move the jet ski because of these wheels in the video below.
I find new jet ski owners are the most intimidated by drive-up lifts the most, as most fear they’ll overshoot it or crash the jet ski. It’s a valid concern, and while it’s possible, it’s unlikely so long as you don’t go crazy and just use some sense.
When teaching people how to use these ramps, I find many of them often don’t give it enough gas, which is fine because you roll back off and can try again. That is why it’s important you don’t turn the jet ski engine off until coming to a complete stop on the lift.
You will need a place to attach the drive-up lift, such as your dock, but you can get a few that are freestanding, but you still need to attach it to something like a pole in the water.
2. Jet Ski Hoist
The next type of jet ski lift is a hoist, and it works by either electrical motor, compressed air or manual levers to physical lift the jet ski up in the air.
The hoist lifts for jet skis can also be customized by dock builders to fit whatever your needs. I had a few customers that built a whole floating platform that lifted their two jet skis up and down, similar to this video below.
If you got the money, the hoist is the best option. I would also consider a cover or roof over the jet skis to keep the sun from baking them and to keep water out of the footwells.
The hoist is easier to use, but will require practice. To put the jet ski on the lift, you need the bunks of the lift just low enough that the jet ski can slide onto them but not come off. Then slowly you need to raise the lift, most of these electric lifts will have a key fob you use to raise and lower it. You will need to make sure the lift is centered on the lift, you don’t want the jet ski to fall off, especially with you on it. The hoist option needs more patience when using it, but overall is easier for most people.
You can get hoist in many options, some use a steel cable to lift all four sides of the lift. Some hinge in the video above, and some use air tanks to lift the jet ski up. Overall, they hoist the jet ski up and out of the water instead of the jet ski driving up and out of the water.
Sometimes, the jet ski lift you need may not be so simple, so let’s discuss what lift you should get and why.
What Jet Ski Lift Should You Buy?
When picking a jet ski lift, it’s not always about what you think looks the best, but what will work for your home.
While I love the drive-up lifts, they won’t work if you have a lot of rocks around your lifts or on a cliff. I’ve had one customer who wanted the drive-up lift, but his dock was 20 feet in the air due to living on a cliff, so a special hoist was made for him.
Sometimes a drive-up lift is the only option due to HOA or marina rules.
My personal favorite is the drive-up lifts because they’re the simplest and longest lasting option. You will need to practice, but if you can get one, I suggest getting one over a hoist.
Where To Buy Drive-Up Jet Ski Lifts
Every state and country will have different dealers and options for drive-up lifts. Here are a few that I know about and like the most.
Can A Jet Ski Go On A Boat Lift?
If you already have a boat lift, you can use it for your jet ski, so long as you adjust the bunks.
Jet skis are much smaller, so the bunks on the lift will need to be brought in to support the jet ski.
It’s a bit overkill for jet skis, but a boat lift that has been adjusted will work. I suggest contacting your local boat dock builders and having them inspect the lift and adjust it to fit your boat.
DIY Jet Ski Lifts
The main goal is to not keep a jet ski in the water for too long, so the best jet ski lift is simply a jet ski trailer.
A jet ski trailer is not an option for everyone, so people have gotten smart and built many DIY jet ski lifts, and here are a few of them.
The only problem I have with DIY lifts is that you don’t see many people make them for modern FULL SIZED jet skis. Jet skis have gotten a lit heavier, except for the Spark or EX, so many of these DIY lifts I fear won’t work for anything built after 2010.
How Much Are Jet Ski Lifts?
A jet ski drive-up lift costs anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on what you need. Even used drive-up lifts can cost $1,000 or more. Keep in mind, this price doesn’t always include installation charges.
Unlike jet skis prices, drive-up lifts hold their values very well as they’re so in demand. This is because used ones still work just fine and are more durable than most people realize.
If you need a jet ski hoist, it’s not going to be any cheaper, and will often cost more than the jet ski or two that support it. A hoist will need construction and deck building experts to make sure everything is supported correctly and will work.
How Deep Of Water For Jet Ski Lifts?
How deep of water a jet ski lift can go in depends a lot on the jet ski itself, and most jet skis should not be operated in less than 3 feet of water.
A drive-up lift will be fine in 4+ feet of water; I just won’t go below 3 feet, unless you don’t mind pushing the jet ski off the lift and walking it over to deeper water. You got to keep in mind that the water level in many lakes go up and down, so you want some buffer.
The problem is with hoist lifts, as they often need extra supports that go into the water and into the ground. Boat dock builders will let you know if the area around your home is okay for a jet ski lift and if not, there will be options.
Jet Ski Lift For Boats
If you own a large enough boat, you can get lifts that go on the back of the boat for jet skis.
Some boats (yachts) are big enough that they have a garage just for smaller boats and jet skis.
10 thoughts on “The Best Jet Ski Lifts – Types & Options”
So I have a boat house with two slips and two boat lifts. One houses my 20 foot Boston Whaler and I am hoping that I can use the other one for the jet ski I plan on buying;GTI 170. The bunks are 28” apart, (inside dimension) and 34” outside dimension. I took pictures and sent the dimensions to my SeaDoo dealer and he replied that those dimensions should accommodate any of the current bigger hull SeaDoos. Does that make sense to you? I will have to add some 2×6 pressure treated boards across the aluminum beams to make getting on and off easier. Is there any reason I shouldn’t use a 7000 pound boat lift for a 800 pound SeaDoo as long as it fits the bunks?
Thanks in advance,
It’s a bit overkill but it’ll work so long as the bunks are correct. I would be cautious when going up as the lift may jump quickly if it’s the one that fills and deflates due to the jet ski weighing less. Also, going down on the fill and deflate lifts will go down very slow if a heavy enough boat is not on it. I’m more of the fan of the drive up lifts or the cable lifts made for jet skis but I’ve have seen several people use modified boat lifts before.
Thanks Steve, it is a cable lift so speed is not dependent on weight. By saying, as long as thebunks are correct, what exactly do you mean? The dealer says the dimension should work but is there an area of the hull that should not bear the weight of the ski? The chines I assume?
It’s the chines, you don’t want to rest the jet ski’s chines on the wood. When you look under the jet ski you’ll see the spots where bunks are supposed to go. If you have a trailer or when you go to the dealer take a measurement of their bunks and base your lift off of that. You’ll know you’re resting on the Chines if the jet ski sits crooked.
Hey Steven, Great blog! I’ve gotten a ton of useful information and have read nearly all the posts, thank you! Quick question on this one, do you have some out-of-water electric lift brand names that are reputable and proven?
It’s hard to recommend just one because they’re so many independently owned retailers across the world for electric jet ski lifts. The best thing to do is call up your local jet ski dealership and ask them who they recommend because they deal with the local guys and from my experience customers really let you know who is the best.
Completely new to the idea of OWNING a PWC, but I’ve ridden a few supercharged Sea-Doos and am comfortable with the idea of getting a mid-powered 3 seater for myself. My question for this though (and excuse my ignorance) is how do these PWC lifts stay in place in the lake? Do they need to be secured with sand bags or anchors or do you just plop it in the water? I’m only considering the up/down type lift not a drive up.
Good question. The lifts that go up and down are usually secured to your dock and many even get support poles added to them. Since every home and dock is different each setup is different but its the same idea of it either connecting to your dock or they build poles or a platform for it. Since you’re new to owning please feel free to explore the beginner’s section and ask any question that come to mind. I’m always happy to help.
Thanks for the fast reply Steven. I’m looking at a freestanding unit, kind of like the one at this link:
But probably only 1 to start. It seems like they don’t have anything to secure them, I’m guessing the weight of them is enough to keep them in place? I can’t find any info on this.
I’ve read through a pile of your posts already, including the beginner section. It’s all been very informative and helpful! Thanks again!
I’m not familiar with that style but it would seem they hold in place with there own weight. I would be careful with that style because it looks like they’re close to shore and you don’t want to suck up debris.