What is a Winch? and Its Types? – Everything You Need to Know 2021

People have been using winches for centuries now. It’s quite effective in accomplishing lifting jobs where humans fail to do so because of the heavyweight of the items that need to be lifted.
Today’s winches are not like the old ones, though. With the advancement of technologies, manufacturers have brought some estate of the art winches for their customers to efficiently serve different purposes.
That means there are different winches out there to accomplish different jobs.
Let me tell you what a winch is and the types of a winch. I will be describing each type in brief so that you know which type is the best to serve your purpose.

What is a Winch?

A winch is a mechanical object that is used to pull a heavy object. It can be a vehicle like trucks, cars, UTV/ATV, boat, or a log, or any sort of heavy object that a human cannot lift without help from an instrument like a winch.
The core mechanism of a winch is using a rope or cable to wind up or wind out to lift or tow any object. The cable/rope is spooled onto a drum.
Modern-day winches are quite sophisticated to tow different objects efficiently. Off-roaders these days always keep either an electric or a hydraulic winch to get an easy rescue from a stuck situation.

Different Types of Winch


As I said, these days, manufacturers are producing some advanced winches to perform several lifting and pulling tasks. As a result, there are various types of winches available on the market. I am going to describe them briefly here.
Here are the types of winches commonly available out there –

  • Electrical winch.
  • Hydraulic winch.
  • Lever winch.
  • Hand winch.
  • Air winch.
  • Wakeskate winch.
  • Glider winch.
  • Mooring winch.
  • Snubbing winch.

1. Electrical Winch

An electrical winch is the most popular type of winch amongst off-roaders.

An electric winch requires either an electric supply or a vehicle battery to operate. They can be run by some winch batteries as well.

Almost all the electric winches are lightweight, hence easy to carry around. Moreover, they are compact and fit in the vehicle’s bumper with ease.

This type of winch has electric motors. Although most of the quality winches are waterproof, the motor can be affected if immersed in water.

2. Hydraulic Winch

Hydraulic winches are quite popular for industrial or commercial uses as they are quite strong and capable of pulling heavy loads.

They operate by the power of pressured fluid, and unlike the electrical winches, they can run even when immersed in water. That’s why they are used by the marine industry as well.

Hydraulic winches tend to last longer and don’t get heated fast. On the downside, they must require an engine to run.

3. Lever Winch

Lever winch is run manually by a person. Anyone operating a lever winch generally moves a handle back and forth. They use a self-gripping jaw instead of a spool to move the cable/rope.

As they are equipped with a jaw, they are one of the best bets to handle cables or ropes. Lever winches are used to lift hefty objects as well.

One of the most applauded aspects of a lever winch is it can lift items both vertically and horizontally. Some of the chain hoists can lift items only vertically, but lever winches do both.

4. Hand Winch

As the name suggests, hand winches are operated with a human hand. That means there is another form of manual winch.

Hand winches are quite useful in a situation where no power supply is available, like woodland areas. They are handy to work in wet conditions as they don’t have any electrical instruments that water might damage.

In areas where weather is so unpredictable and there is a lot of humidity in the air, a hand winch would be the best choice. It’s because a sudden rain won’t damage the unit and stop the proceedings.

Technically, a hand winch amplifies a person’s strength, which is why they are not the ideal solution for pulling too heavy objects like vehicles.

5. Air Winch

Air winch is also known as air tugger or air hoist as they are powered by compressed air. An air compressor supplies air pressure through an airline to the motor to let the drum rollover. Consequently, the rope/cable transport the load efficiently.

When it’s about versatility and safety, air winch beats any other type of which without any doubt. In addition, they are environmentally-friendly, and one of the most durable types of winches as well.

You can work with air winches under different sorts of harsh weather conditions like cold, excessive heat, dust, etc.

Because of its toughness and capability of handling big jobs, different industries like gas, oil, marine, construction prefer to use air winch more than any other type of winch.

6. Wakeskate Winch

Wakeskate winch is probably the easiest to operate than other types of winches I’ve discussed here.

Mostly, the watersports enthusiasts use this sort of winch.

Besides the typical engine and spool setup, the wakeskate winch boasts a handle and frame to operate it effortlessly.

The idea is to tie the winch with either tree or vehicle or set it into the ground and use that winch to drag a person. People swim, walk, or ski using this winch.

7. Glider Winch

The name says it all. A glider winch is particularly made for launching gliders or planes.

This sort of winch has a high load capacity, and typically, they are mounted to a trailer or heavy vehicle.

A glider winch can be operated by petroleum, diesel, or LPG. However, electric or hydraulic engines are also common for running this type of winch.

8. Mooring Winch

Mooring winches are another simple winch form, as they consist of only a barrel and rope. They are used to pull boats or ships to the dock or berth and position them.

Mechanically the barrel rolls to release or wrap the rope tight.

9. Snubbing Winch

Snubbing winch is used for boats, yachts, etc. Snubbing winch follows a ratchet mechanism but doesn’t have any sort of crank or drive.

These are safe winches as they let you release the pressure slowly.


Final Words

Above I’ve discussed the definition of a winch, winch types, and what each type means in terms of their mechanism and usability.

Not all winches are good for all sorts of jobs.

Know the best type for you before purchasing one.

Winch varies in load capacity as well. Fortunately, you will get different winches varying in load capacity for each type.

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