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How to Select a Reel

Why Buy a Reel

Advantages of a hose reel

  • Workplace efficiency
  • Workplace Safety
  • Less Damage to hose and potential for loss of costly compressed air
“Slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents. They cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.” They also list “Uncovered hoses, cables, wires or extension cords across aisles or walkways” as a major cause of trips and they recommend that an employer “Design workplace & processes to prevent potential exposures to slip & trip hazards” by “Maintain(ing) clear, tidy work areas free of clutter” and “coiling up extension cords, lines and hoses when not in use and keeping electrical and other wires out of the way.”


How to Pick a Hose Reel

The main components of all reels are very similar, so the process of navigating mdi’s diverse product offerings can be confusing. At mdi, our product experts participate in regular training to understand the various product lines we distribute. Let us guide you toward your ideal reel.

Hose / Cable Length and type

For hose applications the diameter and material of the hose should be considered as well as length needed for the job. We recommend using a quality hose, because under pressure or from regular use, low quality hose can warp, expand, and contract, impairing the function of the reel.

For Cable applications, you will have to consider conductors for correct voltage and amperage for your job, and be sure to understand the dimensions of this cable prior to ordering a reel. Also specify your application, either water, air, oil, fuel, fire fighting, welding, cable, storage, or live electric.

Rewind Type

Crank Rewind: This user powered method is the most economical. The user manually turns a crank to rewind the hose or cable.

Spring Rewind: Requires no power. The hose or cable self retracts due to a spring mechanism. The operator is advised to help guide the hose for uniform winding.

Power Rewind: Power rewind reels can be the easiest on the user. Whether utilizing an AC-motor, a DC-motor, an Air-motor or a Hydraulic-motor, the user needs only to flip a switch for the retraction mechanism to begin. As always, it is recommended that the user help to guide the hose back into the reel to assure uniform rewinding.

Hose and Cable

During the process of selecting your reel, it’s important to keep your application in mind. Although components such as the bearings, discs and drums may be similar or identical between various reels, the biggest division between reels is in what the reel is meant to carry.

Live Single Hose reels account for most reel models, as they cater to the most diverse range of applications and industries. Water-carrying hose reels could be made portable for low-pressure, low-volume garden hose or truck-mounted for high-pressure, high- volume collapsible fire hose. Fuel delivery reels could be used for applications from home fuel delivery to aircraft refueling. Compressed air reels are a common solution for organizing the supply lines for pneumatic tools and keeping the shop floor clean. If your application requires a single length of hose to deliver some sort of fluid, a Live Single Hose reel is probably what you’re looking for.

Live Dual Hose reels are designed for simultaneous dual-product delivery, such as oxygen/acetylene welding hose. These reels are also used for twin hydraulic hose, making them necessary for hydraulic emergency response and rescue tools.

Live Electric Cable reels carry and often supply electric cable. These could be used for power cable, such as an electrical or light source, or perhaps even as the power supply for arc welding. While most Live Electric Cable reels utilize a power source, the notable exceptions are the grounding cable reels. These are used for vehicle grounding in refueling applications and for worker safety in the utilities industry.

Storage reels have no live hose or cable connections. Most storage reel models can carry lengths of various things, such as hose, cable, cord, rope, chain, or wire. Some are portable, such as the A/V and broadcasting cable reels; others are not, such as the Floater reels for offshore oil applications.

Now What?

Now that you probably have a good idea of what kind of reel you want, it’s time to write down some of the required specifications for your application.

For example – if you want a Live Single or Dual Hose reel, what length of hose will you require? What inner and outer diameter will the hose or hoses be? What is the minimum bend radius for your hose? What material or materials will the hose need to convey, and at what pressure and flow rates?

For cable reels, what length of cable is required? What amperage and voltage will the cable need to convey? What is the end use of the power – for example, a power tool, a light source, a power extension, or something else? Will the cable be used for grounding?

For storage reels, what length and type of material does the reel need to carry and store? What is the weight – per unit of length – and diameter of the material?

There are some questions pertinent to all reel types. What does the reel need to be made from? What special coating or finish do you need? What environment will the reel be operating in, such as the temperature, humidity, or salinity of the surrounding air? Does the reel need to be portable, or will the reel be mounted on the wall, floor, ceiling, a vehicle, or some other surface?

Answering these questions will go a long way in helping us find the perfect reel to suit your needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact our product experts, either by phone, email, or chat.