For as much that can be said of the particular features and specifications of electric winches, just as much attention should be paid to proper utilization and winching technique.
While seemingly a simple premise in itself, there’s actually a lot more to winching than attaching the cable to a fixed point and letting it rip. In fact, knowing how to effectively utilize your winch can make a significant impact on its performance.
Factor in the fact that electric winches are allotted a limited amount of time to complete a pull before it saps your battery or begins overheating, and proper winching technique suddenly becomes that much more important.
Here are technical factors to keep in mind for electric winch selection and operation:
Winch Capacity, Part 1:
Hopefully by now, off road and 4×4 enthusiasts have all but eliminated the rookie misconception that the necessary winch capacity is directly proportional to a vehicle’s weight. But in case there is still any confusion regarding this matter, let’s put it bluntly.
Plain and simple, your winch capacity should be 1.5 times your gross vehicle weight. In other words, take your vehicle’s weight, multiply it by 1.5, and that resulting number should be your minimum winch capacity.
For instance, a vehicle that weighs 5,000 lbs would require a winch with a minimum capacity of 7,500 lbs.
Winch Capacity, Part 2:
When shopping for an electric winch, it’s easy to get confused by all the ratings, specs, and other technical information; in particular, winch capacity.
Fact is, even if an electric winch is rated 10,000 lbs, it won’t always pull at 10,000 lbs. The way the ratings systems works is that each winch is given a designated capacity based upon its pulling strength with one layer of winch cable.
In other words, an electric winch has the most pulling power when 1-2 complete layers of winch cable are wound around the winch drum due to a lower gear ratio. As a winch continues to wrap more layers of cable around the drum the pulling power decreases. This ties into our next point …
Effective Winch Line Management
While you may want just one layer of winch cable around the drum when you begin a pull, the problem is that you may have to spool out a considerable amount of cable depending on how much you have on the drum, which can get snagged, damaged, or bunched up on the drum as you pull.
For this reason, it’s important not to carry too much winch cable. 100 feet is usually a standard length and some spare extension cable can help with pulls over longer distances.
In terms of the act of winching itself, make sure to feed the winch rope straight through the fairlead so that it will wrap smoothly and linearly around the drum. Feeding from an angle will cause the rope to layer unevenly, which could affect your winch’s performance.
No matter what your circumstances, safety is your first priority during any recovery or utility option. Common sense rules like never using a winch to hoist or pull people usually apply. Here are some basic safety tips that should always be followed when operating a winch:
- Always use gloves when operating a winch, especially when using wire rope. Individual wire strands can sometimes break, which can lacerate unprotected flesh.
- Keep your hands clear of the winch drum during operation.
- If using a wire rope, spread a blanket or towel or some other object on the rope. If a wire rope snaps, the stored kinetic energy can create a whipping effect. Placing something on the cable will dampen this in the event of rope breakage.
Post time: Oct-10-2016