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Hoists & Winches: Learning the Difference between the Two

A winch is for pulling and a hoist is for lifting. However, the difference between the two doesn’t end there. Despite their similarity, winches and hoists are designed to do separate things and you need to know how one differs from the other to know how they work.

Ready to learn more about hoist & winches? Read on to know the characteristics that define hoist and winches.

Defining Hoists and Winches

A hoist is used for jobs that require lifting or lowering a load. It typically consists of a lift-wheel, a chain and a locking break that supports a hanging load. It can be operated manually or electrically. Manual hoists include those that are hand cranked, levered or ratcheted while powered hoists are those that run through electric, hydraulic or pneumatic motors. These are ideal for mechanics and automotive shops that regularly lift heavy loads.

Meanwhile, a winch is a device used to pull heavy loads by winding a cable. As a  result, a tension that will pull an object is created. A winch drum is driven manually or by air, electricity or hydraulics. It is often made of steel and is designed for a specific load capacity. A manual winch typically consists of a cable wound around a drum or barrel, while some complex industrial winches are designed to tow vehicles or help move heavy equipment.  

Hoists vs. Winches

Both tools make it easier to move heavy objects. However, one major difference between them is the braking system. Most winches have dynamic brakes designed to automatically lock a load. These breaks use the gears in the winch for resistance making it unstable for suspended loads. If you try to use a winch as a hoist, the load may slip or the gears may be damaged.

Still, some winches are specifically made to double as a hoist, but it must be equipped with a locking brake and no free spool mechanism (or has a disabling function). You should never use a winch as a hoist unless it is approved to do so.

Hoists, on the other hand, use mechanical braking systems which lock a suspended material firmly. This device is also equipped with a load-limiting function which prevents it from trying to lift more than its designed capacity. Such abilities make a hoist the safer option for the job.

Choosing the Right Equipment

There are several types of hoists and winches out there and numerous brands under each belt. Choosing the right equipment is determined by your needs, the state of loading and as well as the period of how long you will use it. Remember, if a hoist can lift a dead weight of about 250 lbs. it may be capable of pulling 1000 lbs. rolling weight across a surface. If a winch can pull 1000 lbs. across a flat surface, it may only have the capacity to support a dead weight of 100 lbs.

The most common problem you will likely encounter using either of the two is utilizing them beyond their intended purpose, so it’s important to decide accordingly. If you need further information, Compresstech Resources Inc., is always available to help you determine your needs. Contact us today!

Did you find this article helpful? Which equipment likely suits your needs? Let us know in the comments!