If you need to transport anything heavy, then you may be considering purchasing a winch. Winches are a great way to move items that would be too heavy or cumbersome to pick up and transport in any other way. Before you go to purchase your winch, it is essential that you understand exactly what type of winch you need so that the item you buy will complete your task safely and last through many years of service.
Winch or Hoist?
The first question you will need to consider is whether you need a winch or a hoist. A lot of people talk about buying winches when what they actually need is a hoist. While these two pieces of equipment can look similar, they are really intended for different purposes, and if you use the wrong one, you are going to run into major problems trying to get your job done. Winches are intended to work over level or slightly inclined ground, while hoists should be used to lift loads vertically or over more steeply sloping inclines.
What are winches, and which should you choose?
The key characteristic of a winch is that it winds a cable in or out, and the tension this produces is used to pull a load. Drums on winches can be powered by hydraulics, pneumatics, electricity or even manual power. When looking at winches, you will notice that they are rated according to the maximum load they can pull when only the bottom layer of the cable is on the drum. Once the number of cable layers begins to increase, the pull on the line will go down by about 10% for each layer. If you can't find the exact winch, you need to talk to your supplier who may be able to create custom winches for specific tasks.
What are hoists, and which should you choose?
If you decide that you need a hoist to raise or lower a load, then you will need to think about whether a powered or manual hoist would be the best choice. If you opt for a manual hoist, you could choose a levered, ratcheted or hand-cranked hoist to raise the load. Hoists are rated according to their state of loading, their duration of use and their area of application.
One of the biggest differences between winches and hoists is the braking system. Winches are generally fitted with dynamic brakes which use the gears and will automatically carry the load. Never try to use winches as hoists since this could result in the gears stripping and the load falling.