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Andersen Winches vs Orbit Winches™

Andersen Winches vs Orbit Winches™ – Differences, Similarities, and Which is Right for You

With the introduction of the Orbit Winch™ range, there are now two distinct winch brands in the Ronstan portfolio: Andersen Stainless Steel Winches® and Orbit Winches™. Although they both share many of the same great qualities, they differ in some aspects of form, function, and intention. Everyone has a different set of priorities when selecting a new winch, so we will highlight a few of the important differences and discuss the benefits of each to help you make an informed decision.  

The material, specifically the drum material, is a common starting point when identifying the most appropriate winches for your boat. Andersen and Orbit Winches™ visibly have different drum materials, but the other component materials should not be overlooked as they can have a significant impact on overall weight, strength, and efficiency.

The drum material of a winch can often indicate the design intention, with stainless steel or chromed bronze winches often geared towards cruising boats and aluminium winches aimed at racing boats. Andersen Stainless Steel Winches® are known for their beauty, their everlasting shine, and the classic aesthetic they provide. They are durable and strong, but may come at a price premium and can be heavier than aluminium winches (although still lighter than a chromed bronze winch, often used as a less expensive alternative to stainless steel). As a stronger material than aluminium, stainless steel winch drums can be made thinner than aluminium winch drums, which helps counteract some of the difference in raw material weight. Although the aluminium Orbit Winch™ is significantly lighter than the Andersen Stainless Steel Winch, the centre stem material and drive shaft design also play significant roles in the overall weight savings.

While stainless steel drums provide many benefits that other materials cannot replicate, aluminium has become the most popular winch drum material on the market. The matte black finish of an anodised aluminium winch has become synonymous with performance, found on raceboats around the world largely due to the significant weight savings aluminium provides over other materials. The lightweight and relative affordability of aluminium has made it the go-to choice for many racers and cruisers alike.

Beyond the material characteristics, Andersen WInches and Orbit Winches™ offer different features which may impact your decision, including the available sizes, electric winch options, and the unique QuickTrim™ self-tailer.

Although they both originate from the same factory in Denmark, Andersen Winches and Orbit Winches™ were designed with a different set of priorities, reflected in their available features. The Andersen Winch range encapsulates a broader selection of sizes, some of which are also available in a non self-tailing configuration (all Orbit Winches™ are self-tailing winches). If you are seeking a non self-tailing winch, the Andersen Winch is your best choice. Both Andersen and Orbit Winches™ are available as electric winches, and they can both be easily electrified after purchase with an electric conversion kit. However, the brushless, variable speed Compact Motors™ are only available on Andersen Winches. 

New to the market in 2023, the award-winning Orbit Winches™ introduced QuickTrim™ to the sailing world. Not available anywhere else (including Andersen), QuickTrim™ allows sailors to easily and safely ease line tension to make minor sail trim adjustments without having to remove the winch handle or take the line out of the self-tailer. Learn more about QuickTrim™ here, or watch the video to see how it works. Setting a new standard in ease of maintenance, Orbit Winches™ do not require any tools for disassembly or maintenance. We have a video for that, too.

How does an Andersen Winch actually compare to an Orbit Winch™ in size and and weight? Let’s look at a direct comparison between the two in one of our most popular winch sizes: the Andersen 40ST vs the Orbit 40QT.

As defined by the winch size (40), the power ratio in the second gear on both winches is 40:1. The power ratio in the first gear can sometimes vary between winch brands for the same size winch, but as the Andersen 40ST and Orbit 40QT feature the same gearing configuration, they also maintain the same power ratios in both speeds. The Orbit Winch™ is a full four pounds (nearly two kilograms) lighter than the same size Andersen winch, a result of the materials and design details mentioned above.

The Andersen accommodates slightly larger line diameters, which is appropriate for the large diameter lines often found on classic yachts and cruising yachts. The performance-oriented Orbit Winches™, popular on sportboats and amongst racers, will typically be used with smaller diameter, high performance lines. The Orbit Winch™ also has a slightly smaller overall profile, despite a nearly identical footprint. 

Who’s the winner? That’s for you to decide, and it will largely depend on your boat and your own set of priorities. The timeless appearance, durability, and strength of an Andersen Stainless Steel Winch® might be the perfect option for your boat, or you might prefer the sporty Orbit Winches™ as a modern, high-performance, and lightweight alternative, with unique features like the innovative QuickTrim™ and a convenient disassembly with no tools required.

Feel free to contact us with any questions and we’ll be happy to discuss.