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Winches vs Come Alongs: Advantages & Disadvantages

If you need to move a heavy load, the best tool for the job is either a winch or a come along. But which one is better? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using winches vs come alongs, and what are their characteristics?

That is what we will discuss in this article – what each of them is, their qualities, and their main features.

What is a Winch?

A winch is an instrument that consists of a hook attached to a rope. It is pulled by a control mechanism that may or may not be electronic. Winch components are usually made of hardy materials such as steel or other synthetic materials that can endure a lot of pressure.

rigging winch

There are a wide variety of winches, all tailored for different tasks:

  • Towing winches are used to tow vehicles. 
  • Air winches are used to move heavy loads through the air, such as in the case of maritime transport. 
  • Mooring winches help ships or boats stay in place when berthed. 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Winch

The qualities that make winches an ideal choice are that they don’t require much effort to operate and only require minimal training to operate efficiently. Winches, on average, can also withstand much more pressure than come alongs.

However, the disadvantages of winches are that they are much more expensive to procure than come alongs. Additionally, they’re quite cumbersome to carry around as opposed to come alongs.

Requires minimal effortMore expensive
Easy to learn how to operateCumbersome to transport
Can bear more weightRequires regular maintenance

Winch Application and Uses

Winches are used to tow heavy loads impractical to lift with pure brawn. Winches can be used on vehicles, aircraft, elevators, object suspensions, landscaping, and any other activity that might require bearing a heavy load. 

To use a winch, fasten the hook to an appropriate spot on the object you are trying to move. After that, simply activate the electronic control mechanism or crank it if it’s a manual winch.

Winches are perfect for vehicle recovery, transferring dead weight from one spot to another, water skating, and suspending heavy objects in the air for an undetermined amount of time.

What is a Come Along?

Come alongs, also known as hand winches, are manually operated winches with a ratchet that serves as their control mechanism. Similar to winches, come alongs also use wire rope and a hook at the end.

come along

Come alongs also have a few varieties:

  • Rope come alongs use a rope for maximum flexibility. 
  • Cable come alongs use steel cables instead of rope and are designed to move dead weight. 
  • Come along hoists are used to lift objects in the air. 
  • Pullers are come alongs you can use to fasten objects and pull them together.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Come Alongs

The main advantage of come alongs over winches is their compact size, which makes them easier to carry around. They’re also a relatively inexpensive instrument to procure.

Come alongs are also less efficient than winches since they require physical effort to operate. Not only are they less efficient, but they also tend to have a lower maximum bearing capacity compared to winches.

More cost-efficientRequires physical effort to operate
Easier to transportLower maximum bearing capacity
Requires less maintenanceMore limited uses

Come Along Application and Uses

Come alongs are used similarly to winches. Simply fasten the hook to an appropriate spot on the object you are trying to move and start cranking the ratchet. They don’t have as many uses as winches, but they’re still an excellent tool for: 

  • strapping supplies together for transport 
  • lifting materials on construction sites 
  • towing vehicles
  • moving and clearing fallen tree stumps and debris off the road. 
  • installing shade sails and other covers 
  • fastening objects together 

Southeast Rigging Inc.: Premium Winches and Come Alongs

Knowing the features of winches vs come alongs, you can now decide which is the best option for your needs. Southeast Rigging Inc. is a premium supplier of industrial rigging products. Our catalog of winches includes everything from hand-crank winches to electric winches for heavy-duty load-bearing. We also offer lifting and rigging training courses as well as quality control checks on your existing industrial equipment. Contact us today!

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