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The Difference Between a Winch and a Hoist

Telling the difference between a winch and a hoist can be a daunting task for someone unfamiliar with lifting and rigging equipment. To be fair, the subtle differences between the look of the two devices could possibly even throw off a seasoned professional if laid side by side. That’s because, at first glance, a winch and a hoist largely resemble each other. However, when installed and ready to perform their function, there can be no doubt what each mechanical system is meant to do. Here are a few of the differences between a winch and a hoist.

Winch vs. Hoist

For starters, both devices are designed for lifting or pulling. However, a hoist, as the name suggests, is used for lifting loads vertically while a winch is used to pull a load horizontally over an inclined plane.

Furthermore, winches use manual or motorized wind cables that are strong enough to generate tension that can support the pulling of heavy objects. Manual wind cables are the easier option as they are able to be relocated from one job site to another and last for many years if well maintained. They are also fabricated with steel winch drums that house the wind cables that pull in the specific loads.

Conversely, hoists consist of a chain or a wire rope. These tools can also be motorized or operated manually to lift or lower loads vertically. Hoists are commonly used to lift heavy loads including construction materials, steel beams, engine blocks, and HVAC appliances. Manual hoists are normally hand-cranked and integrate levers and ratchets. Air chain hoists come in handy in dusty, dirty, or flammable environments that require heavy lifting. Motorized hoists require electricity, so they are best suited for workshop environments and places that are equipped with power outlets.

The Braking System

Another intrinsic detail to differentiate hoists and winches is their braking system. Winches integrate dynamic braking and gearing systems to secure the load. Such braking systems employ resistance created between the load and the chain, making them unsuitable for lifting.

On the other hand, hoists use mechanical braking. The braking system integrates a locking mechanism to secure the suspended load. This feature makes them the most ideal equipment for lifting.

Can You Use a Winch to Lift?

Safety is of the utmost importance in any hoisting or winching undertaking. While using a regular winch as a hoist compromises safety, as the braking system found in most mechanical winch devices is not designed for lifting, there are some winches that can double as a hoist. However, It is vital that you understand the extent of a devices intended use before implementing it on your job site.

Consult With an Expert on Winches and Hoists

In business for more than six decades, the professionals at Certified Slings and Supply® know what products you’ll need to keep your construction workers safe and your loads secure. If you are in need of a versatile tool for lifting and pulling large loads, our team will happily point you in the right direction  towards tools like our 1-1/2 or 2 Ton Cable Winch Hoists or our ¾ ton or 3 Ton Lug-All Cable Winch Hoists. To learn more about our expert-level products and services, give us a call at 1-800-486-5542 today.

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