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Can a Winch Be Used as a Hoist? Winch Vs Hoist

Can a Winch Be Used as a Hoist? Winch Vs Hoist

Many people confuse winches and hoists, believing them to be the same tool. Both are used to move heavy loads, but winches and hoists move loads differently. Can a winch be used as a hoist?

A winch cannot be used as a hoist. Winches are meant to pull weight, not lift weight, and have different brake systems than hoists. Using a winch as a hoist can result in damages and injuries. Special winches are available that can lift weight, but standard winches should not be used as a hoist.

Understanding the difference between winches and hoists can help prevent damages and injuries to people and property. Before using a winch or a hoist, read the operating manual or instruction pamphlet. Be sure to follow all safety rules and take good care of your winch or hoist.

Can a Winch Hold Weight?

Winches are attached to a vehicle and are used to pull or tow things across a horizontal surface. Winches are designed to pull weight, not hold it aloft like a hoist. Most winches look like a spool of rope with a hook on the end. The rope is called a cable. The cable winds around the spool as it pulls the weight of a load.

Using a cable with tension, a winch can pull a load up a slight incline. The incline should be less than 45 degrees. On a slight incline, a winch should easily be able to pull a car or truck from a ditch.

  • Winches are most often used to tow vehicles.
  • Tow trucks have strong winches that pull the vehicle onto the tow truck.
  • You can buy smaller winches to attach to your personal vehicle.
  • These usually cost between a few hundred to a thousand dollars.
  • A winch can save the cost of a tow truck for someone you know when their car is stuck.

Because winches are relatively small, they’re portable, and since they’re made of steel, they’re also durable. Taking good care of your winch will help it last for years, or even decades.

Winches use steel wire cables to pull loads. These wire cables can be thin or thick, depending on the size of the winch. Be sure to know the limits for your winch and wire cables. Buy high-quality cables to avoid damage.

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Uses for Winches

Winches can be used for a variety of things. Winches are usually associated with tow trucks. The large winches on tow trucks pull cars onto the tow truck. Most people use winches to pull cars or trucks out of ditches or muddy areas.

Winches can be used for other things as well. Winches can be used to pull a boat. They can also be used for landscaping to pull up trees and large rocks.

Winches are rarely used in construction projects. For problems and sticky situations, winches are used more often than hoists, however, in construction, hoists are more common.

Can a Hoist Hold Weight?

Hoists are used for lifting and holding objects. With a system of chains and wires, hoists lift and move heavy objects. Hoists can be worked manually or with a motor, making them a versatile option for lifting.

Some types of hoists can be used in the air. This makes them ideal for dirty jobs. Large construction jobs use hoists to build hotels, cruise ships, and skyscrapers.

Some hoists come with a device that measures the weight of the load. The device tells the user whether or not the hoist can take more weight. As a result, hoists rarely break because users know the limits of the tool.

Hoists are generally larger than winches but are still rather small for a piece of machinery. Like a winch, they can be portable and easily attach to a truck bed. Many hoists contract and fold, taking up less room while still having an extended length.

Depending on the size of your load, you may need a chain hoist or an electric high-capacity hoist. These vary widely in pricing, so be sure to research and find out what you need to lift your load. Choose a hoist that fits your needs and budget.

Uses for Hoists

Hoists are used to lift large loads but in many different ways. Mechanics use hoists to work on cars. Construction workers use hoists to move materials.

Hoists are often portable. Smaller electric hoists can plug into any outlet, making them a good option for traveling.

A hoist can be electric or manually operated, making them a good option for people without access to power.

Can a Winch be Used for Lifting?

The most important reason not to use a winch for lifting is because of a difference in braking systems. Winches and hoists have different braking systems that move different types of loads. Using these systems incorrectly can result in damages and injuries. (source)

Winches have dynamic braking systems. Dynamic braking systems lock the gears in place, making sure the load doesn’t slide backward.

If the load is too heavy for dynamic brakes, the load will slip, drop, and often be damaged. The brakes themselves are also damaged because the weight breaks the gears. (source)

Hoists have mechanical brakes that lock and support loads, rather than keep them in place. Hoists have mechanisms that prevent too much weight from being lifted. Because of this, hoists can be safely used to lift a load. Users don’t have to worry about their hoist breaking.

The amount of weight being lifted with a winch is far less than the amount with a hoist. A hoist lifts objects vertically, supporting all the dead weight of the object.

A winch pulls objects horizontally, allowing some dead weight to be supported by the ground. A winch is likely to break if used as a hoist.


Winch-hoists are mechanisms that combine a winch with a hoist. These mechanisms are used for larger lifting jobs. Winch-hoists are meant for commercial use in garages, farming, and shops. For home use, a standard winch or hoist will work well. Figure out what your lifting needs are and choose a winch-hoist that’s best for you.

Winch-hoists can pull and lift, allowing for one product to do a wide range of jobs. The combination of winch and hoist allows for heavy lifting combined with flexibility.

One drawback of winch-hoists is the price. Winch-hoists generally sell for a few thousand dollars. You can buy a separate hoist and winch of high quality for a few hundred dollars each. Winch-hoists are best for commercial use when switching between a winch and a hoist is a waste of time and money.

Portable Hoists

While a winch-hoist can be a fine solution to moving loads, you might consider a portable hoist instead. Portable hoists can be attached to the bed of a truck and work just as well as regular hoists.

Portable hoists usually lift around 2,000 pounds. With retractable arms and flexible joints, portable hoists can be maneuvered around the truck. The hoists can lift loads from the ground to the truck bed, or from the truck bed to another surface.

Most portable hoists come with hydraulic rams. Hydraulic rams are pieces of machinery that use water pressure to lift a weight. Getting a portable hoist with a hydraulic ram ensures a heavy lifting capacity.

Hoists made for trucks generally rotate 360 degrees. With a large range of movement, portable hoists are a great solution to any lifting situation.

Portable hoists can be cheaper, easier to use, and more convenient than regular hoists. If your truck can support a portable hoist, consider purchasing a hoist for its heavy lifting and flexible use.

Winch Safety

Winches are a relatively small piece of machinery but are quite dangerous. Their power and steel structure makes them a safety hazard. Read the operation manual or instruction pamphlet for the winch before using it to avoid damages and injuries.

Only adults should operate winches. People operating winches shouldn’t use alcohol or drugs before using the winch. Don’t allow anything near the winch, the cable, or the hook, especially people.

Body parts can get stuck in the winch. Hair and clothing can also get caught in the winch. Winches are strong enough to break or pull off objects stuck in the cable. (Source)

When pulling a load, the load may get stuck. It’s tempting to jerk the load, forcing it up the incline. Do not jerk the load, as the cable may break.

Always be sure there are five loops of cable around the spool of the winch. These five loops of cable provide the tension the cable needs to move the load. If you can’t move the load without unspooling more cable, get a longer cable or move the winch closer to the load.

Place the winch directly in front of the load. Don’t pull at the load from the side, as the winch will wind itself unevenly. The cable will wind up on one end of the winch, causing damage.

Winches can overheat. If your winch stalls, or if you use your winch for more than 60 seconds at a time, allow it to cool down before using it again. The appropriate amount of time for a winch to cool down is around ten to twenty minutes.

Never touch the winch cable while using it. The steel cable causes injuries. Even with gloves, don’t touch the winch cable. The winch should be turned off and cooled down before the cable can be touched.

Wire Ropes

Both winches and hoists require wire cables or chains. These wire cables and chains can hold tons of weight depending on their size. Be sure to buy the appropriate wires and chains for your winch or hoist.

Wire cables are made by weaving small wires together until the wire reaches the diameter that is needed. The video below from How It’s Made shows the interesting process of making wire cables. The process is what gives wire cables their strength and durability.

Chains are also made by machines. Chains and wire cables have different advantages and disadvantages, but both are strong enough to be used in a winch or hoist.

This next video shows how machines build and link chains. The process of building and linking chains determines the strength of the chain. For hoists, a strong chain is a necessity.

Top-Rated Winches

The best winch to buy is the best winch for your needs. However, if you need a simple car or truck winch for pulling vehicles, these winches are the most highly-rated options. Simple car or truck winches are generally used for getting cars out of ditches, mud patches, and rocky areas.

  1. Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch– This winch pulls over 9,000 pounds and can be controlled by a remote. It’s also waterproof and durable. For an affordable price of only a few hundred dollars, this car winch is a fantastic option.
  2. Superwinch LP8500 Winch Gen II– This winch pulls over 8,000 pounds and is also controlled by a remote. It’s also easy to install.
  3. WARN 86245 VR8000 Winch– This has all the same qualities as the Superwinch, but pulls a little less weight. The WARN winch has a remote control and a quality build, making it well-worth the money.
  4. WARN ZEON 12 Winch– This winch is pricier than the other winches on this list, but it also has more features. It can pull nearly 12,000 pounds. The design is waterproof and simple to use.
  5. WARN ProVantage 4500-S– This winch only pulls 4,500 pounds, but it’s easy to use and very durable. This option is best for people who don’t need a lot of pulling power and are inexperienced with winches.

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These winches are all controlled with a remote control, making them relatively easy to use. Off-roaders and adventurers will love these recommendations. All of these winches are discussed further in this video from Review Tube.

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