When you’re looking to buy a winch, the first big decision that you must make is whether to buy a hand winch or a motorized winch. Both have pros and cons and which one you choose as your main winch will be determined by what you’re doing and what you need your winch to do. However, in most circumstances, especially if you are off the beaten path you will most likely want to have a hand winch as a backup.
Motor, or electric, winches have several distinct advantages over regular hand winches. They are usually mounted on a vehicle or another area close to battery power and pull or lift in one direction. If you’re looking for a winch that can both lift and pull, electronic winches are generally good at both. They’re also easier to use and move most loads significantly faster than you could ever dream of doing with a hand winch.
For example, if you’re pulling your boat in up the dock, all that required is that you anchor the winch cable to the boat, press a button, and wait for your car to get pulled out. Using a griphoist requires a lot of work and sweat on your part to pull out the boat, along with a much larger time investment.
However, there are several downsides to having an electric winch. They aren’t very versatile, so you won’t be able to pull in any direction other than forward. This can limit you, especially in off-road situations. They’re also significantly more expensive, costing about twice as much for an electronic winch that has about the same capabilities of a hand winch. Electronic winches also need electricity to work, and if the battery that powers them falls dead, they turn into a really expensive hood ornament. Finally, there are also more moving parts, making them more prone to breaks and making maintenance a little bit more complicated.
Hand winches solve most of these problems. They are incredibly versatile, and because you pick the anchor point, you can pull your vehicle or any other object in any direction that you like. Because you power the winch yourself, you don’t have to worry about losing battery power or the winch otherwise not being able to turn on. Since they don’t have as many moving parts, they’re also generally longer lasting and can hold up to abuse much better than electronic winches can.
Hand Winch on a Boat
While hand winches take a lot longer to move their load, they’re also more precise. Since you’re powering the winch with your hand, you can place the load exactly where you want it, without really any degree of skill or training involved.
Whether you choose an electronic or hand winch will depend on your preferences and what type of loads that you are moving with your winch. Electronic winches operate faster and are easier to use, but they also can fail and only pull in one direction. Hand winches are slower but more precise and reliable. Weigh the pros and cons of both for your situation, and if you’re planning on going somewhere where you might be stuck if a winch fails, always bring a backup hand winch.