Pontoon boat storage will probably be one of the banes of your boat ownership experience. Yes, you might love your boat while you’re out and about, enjoying the breeze in your hair while you crack open a cold one. But when it’s time to tuck that baby in, you might find yourself reeling with questions.
The biggest difficulty with storage is that you have to find the perfect balance between security and convenience. And that’s why boat owners who have extra green turn to boat lifts to quench the fires of confusion and stress. If you’re looking to join in on the bandwagon, here’s a quick guide on pontoon boat lift prices.
Estimated Prices for Pontoon Boat Lifts
Although every boat lift serves the same purpose, they won’t all cost the same thing. Manufacturer, model, material, size, and a host of other factors can change the price for a pontoon boat lift. So choosing the right one for your boat will depend not only on your preferences but also on how much you’re willing to spend.
Here are some estimated prices for pontoon boat lifts:
1200lb Cantilever PWC Lift
$1,300 - $1,415
Double 1200lb Cantilever PWC Lift
1200lb Vertical PWC Lift
3200lb Cantilever Pontoon lift (to 22')
4200lb Cantilever Pontoon Lift (to 28')
$3,661 - $9,537
Premium Vertical Lift
Up to $12,000
Remember that these prices are exclusive of the cost of canopies. So you might have to shell out extra to have one installed. Again, prices vary between models and manufacturers. Standard canopies tend to be cheaper, starting at $2,350. High top canopies tend to be more expensive, with their cheapest alternative priced at around $3,098.
If you’re willing to go the extra mile for your boat’s lift, ShoreMaster offers a premium package that includes both a hydraulic lift and a canopy. The ShoreMaster SSV50120HS provides effortless performance and reliable structure that sells for top dollar at $17,905.99.
What Type of Lift Do You Need?
While the prices can sort of help you narrow down your choices, it’s also important that you consider your needs before you go buying a boat lift. These storage solutions come in a range of designs and models, so not all of them will cater to your expectations and preferences the same way.
Free Standing Pontoon Lifts
The reason why these are called ‘free standing’ is because they don’t have to attach to a dock. These include cantilever and vertical boat lifts. Free standing boat lifts are generally heavier than most other models. So once they’re in place, it won’t be possible to move them.
For the most part, they’re ideal for water conditions where strong winds and high waves are common. You can adjust how high up your pontoon boat will sit by adjusting the lift’s frame. They’re also ideal for areas where the bed beneath the water might not be level.
Floating Boat Lifts
Floating boat lifts typically use air/water displacement. They’re super silent and work best in saltwater locations. That’s because their design ensures that all of their metal and steel parts are kept up and out of the water at all times.
Usually, floating boat lifts are ideal for shallower waters. Some air/water displacement lifts need no more than 4 feet of water to work, which may be ideal if you prefer docking your boat near a gently elevating shoreline.
Floating Hydraulic Pontoon Lifts
While they’re technically categorized with floating lifts, the hydraulic pontoon boat lift deserves a solo mention. This is the latest and the greatest in pontoon boat lift technology, providing maximum convenience and reliability even in harsh conditions.
Working in waters as shallow as 12 inches, the floating hydraulic pontoon lift has made it possible for boat owners to store their boat nearer to their home, in waterways that might not have been previously ideal for storage because of the shallow depth.
They attach to everything including a pier, moorings, buoys, and slips/docks, which allows a wider application across various locations. They can also be removed and relocated, which is pretty revolutionary considering how its predecessors work.
Best Brands for Boat Lifts
For the record - every company that manufactures pontoon boat lifts will comply with some pretty high standards. So it’s going to be tough to find a brand that doesn’t manufactures lifts that are built to last. But then again, just as any other purchase, there’s something to be gained out of choosing a brand that goes above and beyond expectations.
Back in the day, there were only a handful of boat lift manufacturers on the market. Today however, they’ve increased in number exponentially, paving the way for more options for every boat owner. Here are some of the most noteworthy contenders in the boat lift market:
Without a doubt, ShoreMaster proves to be the most prominent name in the business. These guys are based in Minnesota and sell every kind of boat lift model you can think of. They also offer their own range of canopies to go with their lifts. Prices vary, but they typically start at $6,000 for a lift.
Although R&J Machines might not be as popular as ShoreMaster, these guys build a wide selection of boat lift designs to match your precise needs and preferences. They’re based in Canada, but they can work with US-based clients for an added fee.
There are a few tricks up JetDock’s sleeves to compete with the already well-established competition. For starters, all of their lifts are ready to assemble, so they can be set up within just a few hours. They also offer a lifetime warranty on all of their builds to give you that extra peace of mind.
Another premier boat lift brand, Floe International sells high end lifts that are designed with aesthetics in mind. They also sell add-ons like guide-in systems to make it easier for you to wiggle your way into the lift.
How Much Will a Boat Lift Cost Annually?
Prices for boat lifts vary significantly. For instance, cheaper PVC models might just set you back a little over $1,000, which you might be able to pay for out of your pocket in one go. If you’re eyeing a more expensive model though, then you might want to do a little math. So how much does a pontoon boat lift cost annually?
Newer pontoon boats can last an average of 20 years. That means you’re going to want to keep your lift around for the same duration of time. If you’re buying something in the range of $5,000, that means you’ll be paying $250 a year. Of course, that’s a figurative estimate of what it would cost you over the time that it’s around.
Keep in mind though that boat lifts can actually be purchased through financing. This is especially common for boat owners looking to buy something top dollar. It’s worth mentioning though that buying a boat lift on a loan also means paying steep interest fees.
The reason why they usually come with a high interest rate is because it’s tough to find a resale market for a boat lift. So in case the buyer can’t pay for their monthlies, the lender might have a hard time liquidating the asset.
What are the Benefits of Pontoon Boat Lifts?
You already have a place to store you boat. And if it isn’t broke, why fix it? Well, pontoon boat lifts offer a bunch of benefits versus traditional storage in a garage, marina, or a boat house. Here are a few reasons why you might want to invest in a lift for your boat:
These lifts let you get your boat up and out of the water within minutes. No need to hitch to a trailer and drive to your dry storage, thus saving loads of time and effort.
A boat lift will keep your watercraft out of the waves, offering extra protection against all sorts of damage including but not limited to mold, mildew, and barnacles under your boat.
Pontoon lifts make it easier for you and your passengers to board and disembark your boat. They make your boat more stable and keep it from rocking while you try to make your way onboard.
How much do you pay yearly for marina fees? Although a pontoon boat lift might seem like an expensive purchase, it actually saves you thousands of dollars that you would have paid in marina fees.
Maintenance Tips for Pontoon Boat Lifts
It’s definitely not going to be a cheap purchase, so here are some tips to help you preserve and extend the lifespan of your boat lift:
Keep it well oiled. There are going to be moving parts that require constant greasing for smooth operation.
Don’t skip any steps of the operation process. This could lead to unnecessary wear on moving parts.
Replace your cables when its time. Worn out lines can affect the performance of the lift and even put your pontoon at risk of damage.
Look into weight warnings. Don’t board more passengers than the lift’s weight capacity will allow.
Need a Lift?
A lift can make your everyday pontoon storage experience just that much easier. But with pontoon boat lift prices being the way they are, it’s important that you take the time to consider the nitty gritty. Figure out your budget and your expectations to make sure you’re buying a lift that’s right on the money.