Your guide to choosing the winch thats right for you

There are various types of winches, each having a unique set of mechanisms and built to fulfill different purposes. For example, one can buy a winch for personal use to hoist or pull vehicles or heavy materials. Similarly, there are types of winches that serve industrial operations.

Before visiting a lifting equipment hire facility, make sure that you have a good knowledge of the different types of winches available. Let us have a look at their applications and pros and cons.

Air Winches

These are ideal for lifting and suspending materials that are very heavy. These are primarily used in oil and gas, construction, and maritime industries. These are powered by compressed air instead of electricity.


  • Eco-friendly
  • Ideal for heavy-duty lifting
  • Of superior quality and more durable than its electrical and hydraulic counterparts
  • Fit for the most complex of lifting tasks
  • Flexible, as the components can be separated and positioned at different places


  • Despite the flexibility, some of the components are very heavy and requires a crane to lift them into position. So, it is not a versatile tool and only meant for very heavy and complex lifting operations.
  • More expensive than its electric and hydraulic variants
  • Difficult to install and requires special operational skills

Tirfor Winches

These are mechanically operated winches with wire ropes or cables for pulling and hoisting machinery or vehicles. It is also used in the power industry for stringing lines.


  • Affordable
  • Light and handy
  • Has better recovery options


  • Not ideal for frequent use
  • Comparatively labour intensive

Manual Winches

This is a good choice for light-weight lifting and comes with a handle and a barrel axis. If you are into off-road travel, you must keep this as an option in case a power-driven tool fails. This is a handy tool for personal day-to-day use


  • Cheap and requires almost no maintenance cost throughout its life cycle
  • Hardy and long-lasting
  • Requires no power to operate


  • Not fit for heavy lifting
  • Requires manual labour

Electrical Winches

As the name suggests these are power driven winches and can be connected to a battery or a plug to operate. They are useful for quick and light-weight hauls and very easy to handle. They are suitable for towing or pulling vehicles, boat equipment such as anchors, construction materials and agricultural machinery.


  • Very easy to install and handle and thus great for personal use
  • Cost-efficient
  • Fast, requiring no manual labour


  • Not ideal for industrial use
  • It is not suitable for very long-term use as these are usually connected to a vehicle motor with limited power thus presenting risks of overheating.

Hydraulic Winches

These use hydraulic power to operate and are more susceptible to heavy duty and long-term operations, such as moving cargoes. They can be used under water as well, thus making them ideal for the maritime industry.


  • Ideal for heavy loads
  • Can be used in land and water
  • It has more power generating capacity and thus can last longer


  • More expensive than electrical winches
  • Requires special expertise to operate
  • Slower than electrical winches even for comparatively light-weight hauling

Man Rider Winches

These winches are often used in rescue operations or can be used in construction sites to pull a carrier containing people.

Before buying, get proper recommendations from your dealer at the lifting equipment hire shop based on the following factors.

Nature of operation: The kind of operations you are looking forward to fulfilling will determine the required ‘Capacity’ of the winch. It will also help you judiciously select the ‘Line Length’ and a suitable ‘Composition’ (steel, aluminium, bronze, fibre etc).

Mount Compatibility: If you are buying a winch that you would eventually attach to your vehicle or boat, make sure it is compatible with the existing mount.

Other factors include

  • Anchorage point, length and weight of the boat and the capacity of the anchor well in case you are looking for a sailboat winch.
  • The frequency of use
  • Environment in which it would be used
  • Provision for load testing using water weight bags or the likes in the case of industrial winches.