Before we start let’s get one thing out there, this is a big subject. There are lots of things to consider so if you want our more detailed thoughts on this subject then please click on the button at the end of this video to go to a longer e-book about this debate.
For our purposes when I say hoist I mean variable speed chain hoist and a winch is a wire rope winch, usually steel wire but not always. So that having been said let’s start with a sweeping generalisation. Chain hoists lift heavy things slowly while winches lift light things fast.
Clearly those are all relative terms and there is plenty of overlap but if you want a twelve word summary that is probably the one to have.
More specifically chain hoists are noisier when they move but they are easier to hang than winches. Chain hoists don’t suffer from fleet angle like a simple winch does but chain is generally harder to divert and re-route than steel wire rope.
Winches for entertainment use are usually, but not always, custom-made so their lifting capacity and speed combinations are almost infinite. They can come with zero-fleet, load-sensing, manual release brakes, slack wire sensing, multiple wires from one drum and so on and so on. That might sound great but remember that custom can also mean slower to build and more expensive. There will always be manufacturers who claim they can build a winch in less time that it takes to watch this video but that is the exception and not the rule.
Hoists are based on industrial machines and as such benefit from those economies of scale. They come with discrete lifting capacities, ¼, ½ and 1 ton and each have their own fixed top speed. The upside of this is that they are far more available than winches and usually cheaper as well. The downside is less choice. They are however very easy to rig and being sealed and self-contained are often more rugged than their winch equivalents.
To finish with another generalisation, if you want your machine as a fixed installation it will probably be a winch. If you want to move it easily from venue to venue then a hoist might be the better choice.
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