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An electric winch performs a simple operation: it moves objects that are too heavy for you to move by yourself. Because it’s powered by electricity, using one requires little exertion other than attaching one winch hook to what you want to move, and the other hook to a stationary object. But portable electric winches differ in how they are powered, and what they’re best suited to move. Here are some notes on choosing the best electric winch for your purposes.

Top Pick

This model can lift an engine block and help set joists into place. WARN

Not all portable winches are capable of lifting heavy objects straight off of the ground, so if you want to use one as an engine hoist or to move heavy objects without dragging them, make sure the one you choose is capable of doing that. Look for a winch with a variable speed control so you can finesse objects into place.

Great Value

This model has ten yards of cable, dual rigging hooks, and weighs less than 13 pounds. WARN

If you’re dragging felled trees or straightening fence posts far away from a power source, you typically needed a manually operated come-along or chain pull to get the job done. But the advent of portable, battery-operated tools brought about the development of cordless portable winches that are operated by a power drill. You simply insert the integrated bit on the winch into your drill’s chuck, tighten, and you’re ready to go. While such winches may not have the capacity of plug-in winches, they are surprisingly powerful—and, of course, you can use it around the house and garage, too.

Easy to Use

This model can pull watercraft up to 5,000 pounds onto its bunks. Bravex

Pulling a boat onto a trailer is the obvious use here, but if you load and unload heavy cargo from a flatbed truck or move snowmobiles on and off of a trailer, a stationary winch is a smart choice. A mounting plate allows you to bolt the winch where it’s most convenient. Look for a winch with a long, corded remote control so you can easily monitor the progress of what you’re pulling.