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Spreader Bars vs. Lifting Beams: What's the Difference?

By Sawyer Breitsprecher • 08.30.22
Category Articles & How-To's > Rigging and Lifting  lifting and rigging  lifting beam  spreader bar 

When it comes to overhead lifting, lifting beams and spreader bars are great devices that help stabilize and support heavy loads safely and efficiently. However, there seems to be a lot of confusion over the differences between these two hoisting bars and which applications they’re best suited for. Both lifting beams and spreader bars have a lot of similarities, but knowing their differences is what will help you choose the best hoisting bar for your needs.


What Are Lifting Beams?

A lifting beam consists of a long I-beam with a single attachment link centered on the top side that connects to the hook of the crane or other lifting machine. On the underside of the beam is where you will find the two (or more) connection points that connect to the load. These connection points are evenly spaced and can attach to the load by hook or sling.

Lifting beams work great for general purpose lifting that doesn’t require a lot of headroom, such as working in warehouses, sheds, and other confined spaces. These products can also be used to lift multiple loads at once and are ideal to work with lighter and flexible loads. The nature of the lifting beam will correct for lifting multiple unbalanced loads at once, reducing the number of load trips you will need to make.

Types of Lifting Beams

We offer different types of lifting beams – both fixed and adjustable – designed to work for you different lifting tasks. These lifting beams are made at different lengths and come with different end fittings.

What Are Spreader Bars?

A spreader bar or spreader beam has a similar I-beam design that lifting beams do, but instead they have two lifting points on opposite sides of the beam rather than having a centered singular lifting point like lifting beams. Spreader bars are designed to be used with lifting slings that connects the crane or other lifting machine to the ends of the beam. These products can have two (or more) attachment points underneath the beam that hook to the cargo for lifting.

If control is important for your lifting task, then spreader bars are your go-to option. Using spreader bars for overhead lifting tasks help increase the stability of your load and can hoist heavy-duty cargo that would normally break when lifting with a singular connection point.

Types of Spreader Bars

Just like lifting beams, we offer different spreader bars to accommodate to every different lifting problem.


How Are Lifting Beams and Spreader Bars Different?

It can be easy to confuse these two hoisting bars when it comes to overhead lifting. But there are some differences that make these two products unique for certain lifting situations. Here are a few to note:

  • Design
    Lifting bars are normally heavier and more durable than spreader bars. Because lifting beams are designed with a singular attachment centered at the top of the bar, there is much more concentrated pressure at that point which can cause the lifting beam to shear and bend if the load is too heavy. Therefore, lifting beams are constructed this way so they can withstand these higher concentrations.

  • Weight Distribution
    Spreader bars are designed to distribute the weight more evenly. Since these products have two lifting points spread apart by the beam, it converts the lifting pressure by compressing it inward rather than having it stress the lifting point and the connection points underneath like lifting bars do.

  • Use of Chain Sling
    Spreader bars work with lifting slings to evenly disburse the weight of the load. Lifting beams do not require the use of lifting slings and can directly connect to the hook of the lifting equipment that is being used.

Which Hoisting Bar is Right for Me?

When choosing between using a lifting beam or a spreader bar, you’ll first want to know what you will be lifting – specifically, how much it weighs and what the span of the load is. You’ll also want to ask yourself how and where you will be lifting the load, and if there will be more than one lifting point.

Lifting Beams will be better for you if you’re concerned with:

  • Lifting multiple loads that may or may not have evenly distributed weights
  • Working with less headroom
  • Loads that are lighter and more flexible
  • Having multiple lifting points for lengthier loads

Spreader Bars work best bet when you’re looking for:

  • Better weight distribution of your load
  • No load tipping or sliding
  • Handling heavy-duty or wide-spanned loads
  • Working with plenty of headroom

Safety Measures for Lifting Beams and Spreader Bars

At US Cargo Control, safety is first and foremost important for any lifting and rigging challenge. We strongly encourage you to follow these safety tips when using our hoisting bars or operating lifting equipment:

  • Always use lifting beams and spreader bars to handle loads for which they are designed for.
  • Make sure to inspect the lifting beam or spreader bar before and after each use for damage or corrosion.
  • Don’t overload lifting points on hoisting bars.
  • Don’t overload slings for spreader bars.
  • Don’t lift loads using incorrect hooks.
  • Ensure secure connection for both the working load and for the lifting equipment.
  • Use tag lines to control long loads.
  • Clear others from beneath or around the lifting area while the load is being hoisted up.

For more information on how to safely use lifting beams and spreader bars, please refer to the safe use instructions from the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association.


More Articles You May Like:

3 Factors to Consider When Choosing Lifting Slings

4 Tips for Buying the Right Rigging & Lifting Equipment

How to Tell When It's Time for New Rigging Gear

New Sling Protection Products Now Available Through U.S. Cargo Control

What is D/d Ratio & Why is This Critical for Lifting Slings?



If you have any questions about which hoisting bar is best for your needs, please call us at 866-444-9990 or email us at customerservice@uscargocontrol.com. We’ll be happy to help you get what you want, when you need it.

About US Cargo Control

Founded in 2005, US Cargo Control is a trusted leader in the cargo control industry, specializing in professional rigging and lifting equipment, trucking and transportation tie downs, and moving supplies. With a superior online shopping experience, industry-experts available via phone, and a central Midwest location, USCC is dedicated to getting you what you want, when you need it. For more information, visit www.uscargocontrol.com

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