Ceiling track hoist systems can transform your space into an accessible environment for individuals living with mobility challenges. But with two different ceiling track hoist options – the straight track and the XY system (also known as the H frame) – how do you know which to use?

In this quick guide, we’ll go over the key differences between the two ceiling hoist systems so you can make an informed decision.

Back to basics: what exactly is a ceiling track hoist, and why would you need one?

Before we dive in, let’s recap. A ceiling track hoist, sometimes known as an overhead hoist or a patient lift in medical settings, is a mechanical lifting device installed on a ceiling. It helps people with limited mobility transfer between different positions – such as from a bed to a wheelchair, or from a wheelchair to a bath or shower chair.

Ceiling track hoists are commonly used in healthcare facilities, hospitals, care homes, assisted living facilities and rehabilitation centres.

Why are there two different types of ceiling track hoists?

Simply, because the XY (or H track or H frame) system and the straight track (or single track or monorail) system offer different experiences. While both help users transfer around the room, one may be more suitable depending on room coverage and individual requirements.

Discover our GoLift Ceiling Hoist system – a  discreet and powerful overhead hoist system, available in different configurations, that allows carers to safely and effortlessly transfer users with different physical needs.

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What’s the most significant difference between the XY system and the straight-track system?

When planning an accessible space, you need to understand each system’s capabilities and limitations.

XY system – multiple transfers

The XY system has fixed rails and a running rail below. It’s a more ‘flexible’ system because it provides full-room coverage, meaning the user can access multiple facilities in one space.

Straight-track system – single transfer

The straight-track system is ideal for smaller transfers. You’d choose a straight track for moving someone from one place to another – such as from a chair to a bath.

Did you know that straight track doesn’t necessarily mean straight, in the literal sense?

Straight track implies there’s a single track (monorail) rather than two tracks at play, as with the XY system. But with straight track, you can still have bends and corners (typically at 30-, 45- and 90-degree angles).

Single track install

Does this mean the XY system is superior?

Not necessarily! While the XY system is great for making a complex, larger room layout accessible, sometimes the straight-track system is better for your space, your application, and your user.

When does a straight-track system work best?

Smaller spaces – such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and residential places – often require simpler systems. As long as multiple transfers aren’t needed, a straight track can be a discreet, aesthetically pleasing addition to mobility support.

Straight-track systems also work well where space is at a premium, such as corridors.

When does an XY track system work best?

The simplest answer? When you want multiple transfers! They’re instrumental in complex room layouts where users need to access different activities. We often install them in:

  • Schools so children can access areas of the classroom (desks, collaborative areas, bean bags, etc.)
  • Care homes so residents can access communal areas
  • Hospitals and rehabilitation centres to assist patients and service users
  • Domestic properties so occupants can access the bath, toilet, sink, wheelchair area, and other facilities

Did you know that the XY system is a requirement for Changing Places toilets across the UK? This means users can comfortably access all facilities.

Check out this recent case study.

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More key considerations for your ceiling track hoist decision

  • Multi-use: XY systems reduce the need for multiple hoist systems in a facility or home, since one XY system can cover all the required areas and transfers.
  • Futureproofing: XY systems futureproof spaces, meaning that if a room layout changes, the ceiling track hoist will adapt.
  • Installation: Single tracks are often quicker and simpler to install.
  • Budget: Single tracks will always cost less than XY systems, which is great for your ongoing needs. However, an XY system may reduce your costs in the long run if you’re planning on a multi-functional space or changing the layout later down the line.

Quick tip for occupational therapists and clinicians

If you’re looking for a ceiling track hoist, take time to understand what your patients and service users want and expect. Factor this into your clinic or business goals to ensure you select a ceiling track hoist that works for your clinic offering and developing space.

Quick tip for architects, space designers and contractors

When it comes to ceiling track hoists, it’s so important to understand your client’s needs. Avoid making assumptions and ask them how they want to transform the space for their users. Knowing their expectations will help you advise the best ceiling track hoist for them.

Find the ideal ceiling track hoist for your project

Having worked with architects, contractors, persons living with a disability and care assistants for over 20 years, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you choose the right ceiling track hoist – the XY system or the straight track – for your project. Tell us about your project today.