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The Differences Between Winches and Hoists

Industrial Equipment | February 25, 2021

While winches and hoists look similar and most people assume that they can do the same job, these two mechanical devices serve different purposes. If you are unsure about the differences between winches and hoists and how to determine which option will work best for you, the team from Western Equipment can help you make an informed decision.

What is a Winch?

A winch is a mechanical device that is designed to haul or pull loads with large amounts of weight. This device uses tension to pull heavy loads at a slight incline or in a horizontal direction. Manual winches are designed with a cable that is wrapped around a drum to prevent tangling. Winch drums are mostly made from steel, and can either be powered manually or by electricity, air, or hydraulics. Different cable wires vary in length and are fabricated from either steel or synthetic materials.

What is a Hoist?

A hoist is a mechanical device that is used to lift heavy loads like construction materials, engines, and more. Unlike a winch which pulls horizontally, a hoist lifts vertically. Besides lifting, hoists can also lower heavy loads.

Hoists come in two types: manual hoists and powered hoists. Powered hoists can be run by electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic motors. Just like winches, different hoists have different capabilities and sizes. Powered hoists have faster lifting speeds and come in a wide range of lifting capacities.

What are the Differences Between Hoists and Winches?

While both winches and hoists can be used to handle heavy loads, they have some differences such as:

1. Function

The key difference between winches and hoists is functionality. While winches are used to pull heavy loads, hoists are designed to lift heavy loads, specifically dead weights.

2. Braking System

Another distinguishing factor between these two mechanical devices is the braking system. Typically, winches are designed with dynamic brakes that automatically lock and support rolling loads. This horizontal braking system pulls loads in one direction and on a level surface. On the other hand, hoists use mechanical brakes that lock and support when lifting loads, making it possible to perform vertical lifts.

3. Drum Core Diameter

Hoists tend to have a much larger drum core diameter compared to winches, as having a larger drum core diameter can help with suspending loads.

If you would like to learn more about the differences between winches and hoists, or if you are interested in our selection of rigging and material handling equipment, please contact Western Equipment at the location nearest you.