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Differences Between Winches and Hoists

Differences between Winches and Hoists

A winch is a crank mechanism that pulls loads from side to side, and a hoist is a device that lifts loads up and lowers them down. Winches and hoists might seem like similar pieces of equipment to use on the job, but these tools aren’t capable of handling the same tasks. Using one in place of another could jeopardize the stability of a moving load, which is why knowing the specific differences between winches and hoists is crucial for every crew.   

What Is a Winch?

Winches are tools that pull weight across leveled or slightly angled areas by winding the cables or rope of a winch drum. Winches are broken down into classes such as:

  • Manual Winch

    Manual winches don’t have engines to power the pull. These types of winches are much more affordable than electrical winches, but they can’t support as much weight.  

  • Electrical Winch

    Electrical winches can support heavier pulls and faster move times because of their engines, but they are more expensive than the manual alternative.

Winches aren’t right for lift operations because they use a dynamic break system. This brake system sustains a load through the use of winch gears, and these gears are susceptible to damage if used to lift dead weight.   

What Is a Hoist?

Motors, cranks, and levers allow hoists to lift and lower weight. Perfect for inclines exceeding 45 degrees, hoists can easily start and stop a lift while still supporting the load. The general hoist classes include:

  • Manual Hoist

    These are portable and affordable hoist options that require the use of a crank or lever to start and stop each lift.

  • Powered Hoist

    Powered hoists are more efficient and can handle more weight, but they’re less affordable than manual hoists.

Unlike winches, hoists use mechanical breaks to secure loads that are hanging. This type of brake system is made specifically for lifting operations because it uses specializes switches to warn operators if the weight is over capacity.

Using Winches and Hoists Interchangeably

A standard winch should never replace a hoist, and a regular hoist should never substitute a winch. However, there is multi-functional equipment that can combine the functionality of both winches and hoists. Some modern winches feature hoist technology to prevent the risk of slippage and gear damage while lifting weight. Of course, crews should inspect the function of every tool before using it in place of another.

Correctly using winches and hoists is crucial to being productive and secure on-site. At Florida Wire & Rigging, we have all the equipment necessary to safely handle any lift operation, and we can even build custom supplies for the most unique jobs. Call us today to learn more at 800-846-0309.