Choosing the Best Sweep for Your Grain Bins envelope Print up
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Choosing the Best Sweep for Your Grain Bins

It doesn’t matter if your grain bin measures 15 or 156 feet - once gravity and the sumps get the bin mostly empty, you’re going to need a bin sweep to help you finish the job. But understanding what you need in a sweep can be hard to pin down. Start with the questions below to find the best sweep for your on-farm grain bin.

Auger Sweep or Paddle Sweep?
Like the name says, an auger sweep uses an auger to clear the last of the grain from the bin. A technology that seems to have been around for ages, auger sweeps can clear a bin quickly and can be used where grain may get compacted or have settled over time. Farm sweeps are typically available in capacities up to 7,500 bushels per hour (BPH).

Auger Sweep

Paddle sweeps are a newer option compared to the traditional auger sweep. These sweeps use a rubber paddle chain conveyor to bring grain from the outside of the bin to the center sump. In many cases, the rubber paddles create less damage to the grain they are moving. Paddle sweeps for farm bins are available up to 5,500 BPH.

Paddle Sweep

Direct Gear Drive Sweep or a Sweep with Its Own Motor?
Once farmers know if an auger or paddle sweep is right for them, they can decide if they need a direct gear drive (DGD) or a sweep with its own motor. A DGD sweep is driven from the bin unload. When farmers are ready to run their DGD sweep, they turn their unload off, engage the sweep and turn it on. The other option uses a separate motor to drive the sweep.

Chain loop sweeps and under-bin sweeps fall into the DGD category, but they are more of a hybrid. Instead of using the gearbox that runs the unload auger, they're driven from an auxiliary motor outside the bin.

What about a Carry-in?
Carry-in sweeps, used by many farmers, are an auger with a motor attached and a small friction wheel at the other end. You drop it in the bin’s center hole and the wheel helps the sweep work its way around. For larger bins, GSI offers a tractor that can attach to the sweeps. It’s a motor and gearbox assembly with wheels that can help push the carry-in or larger versions of the auger sweep around the bin.

Carry-in Sweep

What Works Best for My Bin Size?
Once you’ve established the other features, decide what works in your size bin. With augers ranging from 6-16 inch diameters in bin sizes from 15-156 feet, no matter the size of your bin, there are plenty of options that will work for you. The table below looks at sweep type alongside auger size, bin capacity and diameter.

  Model / Auger Size Approximate Capacity (BPH) Bin Diameter
Direct Gear Drive Sweep 8" 1,500 - 2,500 15' - 48'
10" 2,000 - 5,000 24' - 72'
Chain Loop  Powersweep 8" up to 4,500 24' - 72'
10" up to 4,500 24' - 72'
12" up to 4,500 24' - 72'
Standard Carry-In Sweep 6"-8" up to 2,250 15' - 42'
10" 2,250 24' - 48'
Commercial Carry-In Sweep 6"-8" 800 - 1,050 24' - 48'
8"-10" 1,500 - 2,050 24' - 48'
10"-12" 3,200 - 3,700 24' - 72'
U-trough 7.25" 5,000 - 7,500 15' - 60'
8.25" 5,000 - 7,500 30' - 60'
Leave-In 10" 1,500 - 3,000 30' - 105' 
12" 4,000 - 6,500 30' - 105'
X-Series Sweep 12" 3,000 - 7,000 30' - 156'
16" 8,000 - 10,000 30' - 156'
Paddle Sweeps Powered Farm Sweep up to 5,500 15' - 60'
Commercial Paddle Sweep up to 6,000 15' - 105'
High Capacity Paddle Sweep up to 12,000 48' - 139'

What’s a U-Trough?
A popular option with many farmers, a U-Trough fits under most standard aeration floors. The U-Trough’s open design allows pressure relief as grain moves through the trough, reducing the chance of damage to the grain. The U-Trough sweep features an adjustable flight for easy expansion to the outer wall, dual-action sweep wheels that move the unloader through the grain while sweeping out outer sidewall grain, and enhanced design to help sustain grain quality.

What About Commercial Sweeps?
Commercial sweeps can come in paddle and auger varieties. There’s no direct gear drive option - all the commercial sweeps run off their own motors. Commercial operations - and farms with large bins - have the opportunity to take advantage of leave-in sweeps, which have capacities of up to 6,500 bushels per hour. The GSI X-Series sweep is a true no-entry sweep, meaning it can be started with no in-bin preparation. The X-Series sweep features an exterior control panel mounted directly on the bin that can be run automatically or manually. It can also be monitored remotely. Sensors with the X-Series sweep can sense an avalanche and reverse the sweep to ensure seamless operation. The X-Series is available up to 10,000 BPH and commercial paddle sweeps are available up to 12,000 BPH.

Which Sweep is Right for You?
With a variety of options to choose from, you’re sure to find the sweep that helps your grain system run smoothly and efficiently. Contact your local GSI dealer for more information on what makes the most sense for your operation.