How to Use an Electric Winch – Don’t Do This

The use of winches has increased over the period of past couple of decades. This is due to the increased liking for off-roading activities and sports amongst the people, who prefer carrying winches along to stay free of troubles as winches can always help you out in getting out of sticky and tough situations, when you’re out in the mud or snow.

An electric winch is a device which consists of a motor, drum brake, gearbox, a winch line and a hook. They can be classified into different categories depending upon the extent of their hoisting limit, such as light, medium and heavy. The electric motor connected to a gearbox provides the driving force in an electric winch, and this is the type of winch which is most commonly used use by off-roaders, as well as in industries and factories.

Next in this article, we will be learning more about the mechanisms within an electric winch and the guideline for operating one in time of need.

Mechanism inside a Winch

An electric hoist winch operates by a wire and pulley mechanism, which is a simple yet practical one which has made it popular in the industry. Winch is one of the most active operators in all types of cranes because its mechanical advantage is high by the use of composite pulleys mechanism.

A winch consists of a cable, usually in form of a rope or a steel cable, with a high tensile stress limit which enables the maneuvering heavy objects. These ropes or wire can be anywhere between 40 to 100 feet long. The cable is wound around a horizontally positioned cylinder which is known as the drum. A spool inside the drum rotates to draw the cable in and wrap it on the outside of the drum.

The most important component is the motor which withdraws power from the vehicle’s battery, In order to rotate the drum. Power is transmitted from the gear train which converts the power put out by the motor into pulling power. Finally comes the hook which is the means to attach the cable to whatever object requires pulling. 

Setting up a Winch

Having a whole variety of uses and applications, winches can be a real life saver! However, it is important to use them the correct way so you can keep yourself from getting injured and to avoid any damage.

So the first step is learning how to get the winch installed. Not installing the winch in a proper manner can cause damage to both the winch and the vehicle it is mounted on. You can hire a mechanic to do the job for you or go through our winch installation guide if you’re willing to do it on your own. Also make sure that the winch is being mounted on a winch bumper which can cope up with the strain caused by towing.

Before using the winch, you should properly pretension the wire, which will be done by simply attaching the cable to the drum at one end and a heavy object at the other. This tension that you will be generating will wrap the cable around the drum in a correct manner.

Winches mounted at the front of bumper are for self-rescue if your vehicle gets stuck in mud or on a rock. To use it in such situations, you will first plug in the winch’s remote control so you can operate it from the driver seat. Look for an anchoring point such as a large tree or a boulder, preferably at the front of your vehicle, and then release the winch cable by deploying the ‘disengage’ lever.

After that, gradually pull the cable out towards your anchoring point and wrap a tree trunk protector around the anchoring point. This is a thick nylon strap whose loops at both the ends will be connected together using a D-shackle and the winch cable will be hooked to it with the hook facing upwards. The pre-use setup is now complete.

Operating the Winch

After doing the setup, you will then re-engage the winch to spool back the extra cable from the drum. Then using the remote control, slowly pull the cable taut while making sure that there are no people surrounding the winch.

Again using the remote control, winch the vehicle towards the anchor point while making sure you aren’t going too fast. Simultaneously, press on the gad paddle to aid the process from vehicle’s own power. Finally on reaching the stable ground, stop winching and unrig the winch. Remove the hook from the D-shackle and wind in the remaining cable slowly. Unplug the remote and retrieve the tree-trunk protector along with the D-shackle.

Same procedure is used while winching from the back of vehicle, except for that your vehicle acts as the anchoring point this time.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are winches AC or DC?

Winches can be powered by both AC and DC as they are available with either a 12V DC motor or an 110V AC motor.

  1. Can you hook up a winch directly to a battery?

If you have electrical connections with sufficient length to reach the battery terminals, then you can hook it directly to the battery.

3. Do you need a circuit breaker for a winch?

You do not need a circuit breaker, switch or fuse because they withdraw too much current. Also you would never have heard of winches catching fires so they are never needed.

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