The Pros and Cons of Air Winches

5 July 2016
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog


Winches are mechanical devices that help to lift or pull loads using a spool that is attached to a crank. Winches can be powered by compressed air or electricity. This article discusses some of the common pros and cons of air winches. Use this information to make an informed decision about the suitability of an air winch for your construction company.

The Pros

  • They have a higher rated capacity. Air winches can lift or pull heavier loads when compared to other kinds of winches, such as electric winches. This is because it is easy to attach the winch to a larger air compressor so that it can handle a larger payload. Other power sources, such as electricity, usually have limitations, such as the maximum voltage carried by an electric cable, that restrict the size of the load that the winch can lift or pull.
  • They are flexible. Air winches have several separate components, such as an air compressor and a winch drum. These components can be placed in different locations so that the cable or rope winds its way until it reaches a load in a tight space. Sheave blocks are used to make the cable manoeuvre its way around obstacles. This makes an air winch ideal for use in a congested location, such as the machine room at a construction site.
  • Loads can be lifted much faster. Air winches allow you to lift or pull loads quickly. This is because the compressed air that powers the winch is not affected by the rate at which the cable wire is pulled. This is in sharp contrast to electric winches that can be damaged in case the speed at which the cable is pulled is very high. This is because the motor controlling the spool can overheat when the spool release speed is very high.

The Cons

  • It is hard to move the winch mechanism. Air winches have several components, as already stated. Those different components, such as the large cable spool, require lifting equipment, such as a crane, to lift them into position. This is in contrast to electric winches that are compact to the extent that one or two people can move them from one location to another easily.
  • They are not easy to operate. One may require special training in order to know how to assemble the different components that make an air winch assembly. This is unlike electric winches that are easy to operate due to their compactness.

Weigh the pros and cons above before you make a final decision about which winch is suitable for your needs. You can also consult winch professionals for advice in determining the best winch that will address your current and future hoisting needs.