What’s the difference between a winch and a hoist?
Even though they look similar, hoists and winches are designed for separate tasks. Winches pull heavy loads over a horizontal or slightly inclined surface. On the other hand, a hoist lifts heavier loads vertically and usually over steep inclines bigger than 45 degrees. Both tools work to make lifting heavy loads easier.
What is a winch, and what is it used for?
A winch is a device used to wind a rope or cable in and out so that the tension pulls a load. Winches come with drums powered by air or manually and hydraulics or electricity. Most winches are made using fabricated steel and have specific load capacities. Winches can handle loads as small as a barrel and tow loads as big as boats or automobiles.
What is a hoist, and what is it used for?
Hoists are necessary when loads need lifting or lowering. Hoists are typically made using a chain or wire rope. They are also powered manually or automatically. Powered hoists include those driven by pneumatic, hydraulic, and electric motors. Manual hoists include ones that are levered, ratcheted, or hydraulic. For machine shops and mechanics, electric chain hoists are the best choice. Air chain hoists are the safest option if working in a dusty, dirty, or flammable environment.
How to distinguish a hoist from a winch
The biggest distinguishing factor between the two tools is the braking system. Winches use dynamic brakes where the gear system automatically holds the load. These brakes use the gears in the winch for resistance, making this system very unstable for suspended loads. If you attempted to use a winch in place of a hoist, the brakes could easily lose resistance, or the load could slip. The results could lead to a hazardous situation.
On the other hand, Hoists use a mechanical braking system with a physical break that helps lock a suspended load in place. Hoists also don’t have a free spool mechanism or a line to bleed from. Overall, hoists are the safer alternative between the two since there is a lower risk of the load slipping and causing an accident.
How to maintain hoist and winches
Because of their work, it is important to inspect and maintain these tools frequently. Below are some tips on how you can do so:
- Ensure you inspect the winch before and after use. Replace the wire rope if it is frayed, damaged, or kinked.
- The remote control, wire rope, and winch must always be clean. You can unwind the winch and clean debris and dirt using a clean rag for a deep clean.
- If you’re using a vehicle-mounted winch, frequently inspect the vehicle battery and cables. Note that using the winch for long periods strains and wears out the battery.
- During regular maintenance, ensure the hoist is in perfect working conditions. Carry out frequent load testing to determine the weight the hoist can handle.
- Inspect your chain hoist often and lubricate according to the manufacturer’s guide.