A hard top hoist is a device, operated either manually or electrically, that’s used to raise or lower the hard top of a convertible or sport utility vehicle (SUV) equipped with a removable hard top. Without a hard top hoist, the job of removing the hard top or replacing it requires at least two strong people. Even with a sufficient work crew, a single slip could cause scratches or, worse, do damage either to the top or to the vehicle’s body that could incur a costly repair bill. Some hard top hoists are custom-designed for specific car models, but many are generic and can be adapted to accommodate different hard tops.
In many respects, a hard top hoist is similar to a garage door opener, and it’s often installed on a garage’s ceiling. An electric model consists of the motor, chains, cables or nylon webbing to attach to the hard top, a power cord and a control module. Most sophisticated models include a remote control unit. A manual model usually costs half the price of an electric model or less and uses a manually-operated ratcheting winch instead of an electrically-powered motor.
Most garage ceilings can easily support the weight of most vehicle hard tops, which are usually less than 200 pounds (90.72 kg). If there are doubts, a structural engineer should be consulted; this is an assessment most homeowners aren’t equipped to make. It may be advisable to add bracing to the ceiling beams to reduce shifting of the unit.
The specific location of a garage-mounted hard top hoist should be carefully planned. Many users leave the hard top secured to the hoist and raise it as far as possible, leaving it suspended from the ceiling until it’s time to put it back on the car. This won't damage the hoist, and it eliminates the need for floor space to store the hard top, as well as the possibility of damage if it’s stored on the floor. A location should be chosen where the suspended hard top won’t interfere with other activity.
A hard top hoist can also be installed in a carport, but measures should be taken to ensure it's well-protected from the elements. Otherwise, installation and operation are virtually identical. On the other hand, it’s also possible to build a portable hard top hoist. The advantage, in addition to the obvious advantages of being able to roll the hoist around a garage or workspace, is that it can be dismantled and transported over large distances with relative ease.