Chain Binders 101

May 13, 2023 | Uncategorized

This article answers the popular question: What are chain binders?

Chain Binders 101

Also known as a load binder, chain binders are tools used to tighten a chain when securing a load to a trailer for transport. There are two basic styles of chain binders – lever binders and ratchet binders. In this article, we will walk you through these two different styles of chain binders as well as different hook styles so you can choose the best option for your needs.

Lever Binders

Lever binders, also commonly referred to as snap binders because of how they ‘snap’ into place, are a type of chain binder that is made up of a level with a tension hook on each end. 

The lever is hinged and takes up the slack of the chain by pulling on one end of the tension hook.

Pros of lever binders

  • Quicker and simpler to install
  • Less maintenance
  • Typically less expensive

Cons of lever binders

  • Require high manual force to be applied by the person installing the binder
  • Potential lever kickback 

Ratchet binders

A ratchet binder has two tension hooks on each end and handle and serves as a lever with a screw thread. Having both simple machines can multiply the force manually applied to the tie-down assembly. The lever and screw work together and increase the force manually applied to the tie-down assembly. 

Pros of ratchet binders

  • Requires much less pulling force to apply tension
  • Allow for slower, steadier, and safer loading and unloading resulting in less strain on your body
  • The take-up distance of a ratchet binder is typically eight to ten inches – twice that of a lever binder. 
  • Not as much energy stored in handle – will not kickback
  • Easier to adjust

Cons of ratchet binders

  • Usually more expensive
  • Slower setup and release time
  • Harder to operate

Before choosing which chain binder option is right for you, always consider that the load must not exceed the working load limit of all the chains. The WLL of the chains can be indicated when purchasing the chains. 

If you are hauling a mini excavator that weighs 8,000 lbs, you must secure the equipment with 4 different chains. Each chain must have a working load limit of at least 2,000 lbs each. The Department of Transportation provides regulations and rules about the number of chains that must be used when towing equipment of certain weights. Besides just the chains, the binders must also have the same WLL to be able to support the chains and the weight of the cargo or equipment. 

Watch this video by Dirt Perfect for more details on load securement regulations for heavy equipment.