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Electronic Hookswitches and Handset Lifters: What's the difference?

Posted: April 18, 2022
Author: Jack Faith
Phone handset being remotely answered by handset lifter

Whether you get a remote handset lifter or an electronic hookswitch, both will provide remote answering and ring detection. Meaning: when you are up to 350 feet away and your phone rings, the headset will beep, then if you turn it on the headset will answer the phone.

You will need either a handset lifter or hookswitch in order to get this remote answering ability. You will still be able to use your wireless headset with your phone without one of these devices, you will just need to answer and hang up from the phone itself.


Why you may need one of these accessories 

If you work at a job where you move around a lot, you never know where you will be when the phone rings. If you are more than a few feet from your phone it may be difficult to answer it in time. A handset lifter or electronic hookswitch will increase your efficiency immensely by allowing you to answer the call from anywhere within 350 feet from the headset base. Receptionists, paralegals, nurses, and restaurant workers utilize the remote answering a lifter or EHS cords provide quite effectively.


All about electronic hookswitches

Senheiser wireless headset hookswitch for polycom phones

This is the preferred device of the two, as it has no moving parts. All actions are performed electronically, which eliminates the chance of mechanical failure. When a phone and headset have a device like this available, it is usually best to go with the EHS cable.


How do electronic hookswitches work?

An EHS is a cord that connects from your wireless headset base to your phone. It can either be a direct connection or branch off into a y-connection, depending on the brand.

So when your desk phone rings, it will send a signal to the headset letting you know the phone is ringing. Then you turn it on, and voila! Your caller will be right in your ear.

Done with the call? Just hit the on/off button again and you will hang up on them. If your caller happens to end the call before you, it will automatically turn off your wireless headset for you, as well.

To get some context, you can view an article about setting up a Leitner headset with a Polycom hookswitch. That way you can see what it looks like when installed.


Things to consider before buying an EHS cord

You would only want to get an Electronic Hookswitch if the phone you are connecting it to is compatible, as well as the headset itself. There is no easy way to check, but you can give us a call at 1-800-HEADSETS (432-3738) to ask us if your phone is eligible.

This means that many phones and wireless headsets simply won't have a device like this available. Reach out to us to ask about compatibility and we will let you know!

If your phone and headset don't have this special little cord available, you may be able to use the next device on our list: the handset lifter.


All about remote handset lifters

Lifters work as a catch-all device for when you want remote answering but don't have a phone that has an EHS available. For the most part, landline phones will require a handset lifter in order to get remote answering. But there are VoIP phones that need a lifter, as well.


How does the lifter work?

Leitner wireless headset remote handset lifter answering a desk phone

Lifters work by doing exactly what the name implies: they lift up the handset. And when you connect your wireless headset to the phone in a certain way, this action will answer your phone for you!

There is also a microphone attached to the lifter which faces your phone's speaker. It listens for your ringtone, and when it hears it ring, it will send a signal to your headset. This way you will know when to answer a call even if you are too far away to hear your phone ringing.

And when you are done, you simply turn the headset off and the lifter will go down, hanging up the phone. It's a strange blend of 20th and 21st-century technology, but it works like a charm.


Things to consider before buying a lifter

Handset lifters are usually a great choice, but there can be some things to think about before buying.

OfficeRunner Wireless headset and handset lifter on Cisco phone

For one, lifters will add a little bit of bulk to the left side of your phone. If you have extremely limited space on your desk and can't move your phone away from everything else, it may simply not fit with the setup you have.

As for compatibility, the only thing that can really keep this device from working properly is the shape of your phone. For it to work, your phone needs to have the handset on the left side of the phone, with the buttons to the right. Otherwise, there will be no place to attach it. Make sure the left side of your phone is relatively flat on the side, as opposed to rounded. This will make it much easier to install the handset lifter correctly.

You will also want to make sure that the handset cradle has a sort of lip at the bottom that can keep the handset from slipping off the phone entirely when it is lifted up.

If your phone matches these requirements, chances are a lifter will do the job.


Wrapping it up

If you want to be able to answer your desk phone while you aren't within arm's reach, we likely have you covered. Which one you get will depend on both your phone and the wireless headset you want to get with it.

To cut back on the ambiguity, give us a call at 1-800-HEADSETS (432-3738) and we will let you know what setup will work best for you!