How to Use an Electric Winch

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Last Updated on June 26, 2022

Off-road driving is fun until you get into any situation like the vehicle getting stuck in the mud or big rock. But you can surely recover your vehicle from these situations if you have a winch and know how to use it. 

An electric winch is used to rescue a 4X4 vehicle, ATV’s or boat from a bad situation. In case of choosing a winch for your system, if the system is 8000 pounds choose a winch with 12,000 pounds of pulling power. 

Let’s make it easy for you. 

How to Use an Electric Winch


Before approaching anything make sure to wear leather gloves, remove any obstacle in front of the pathways of the system and the anchor point, use a tree saver in case of a tree as an anchor. Make sure the drum doesn’t run out of rope, at least three layers of the rope must be available on the drum. 

Keep people away from the area of pulling. Don’t pull the system rope at any angle. To keep the rope straight to the vehicle line you can use the snatch block.


1. Electric winch 

2. Snatch block 

3. Winch shackles

 4. Gloves 

5. Winch blanket 

6. Tree strap 

7. Extension strap 

8. Winch remote

A winching machine’s functionality consists of an electric motor, gear trains, and power supplies. I am going to give a brief about these things. 

Winch Motors: 

Winches have motors to drive the drum where the winch rope is spooled. The mechanism of a winch motor is the same as a drill motor. An electric motor provides a power supply to turn the winch on which is designed to handle more charge as the job of a winch is to pull heavy vehicles. 

Gear Trains: 

Gear is used to increase the pulling power of a winch. Simple gears like bike gears can be used in a winch machine because the electric motor increases the gear’s power more than usual. Most of the winches have small gears trains, namely elliptical gears combined with a small gear rotating around a larger gear which helps the winch to pull more heavy loads.

Power Supplies: 

Electric winches can be operated by both AC and DC power. ATV winches are run on ATV batteries whereas, simple 12-volt DC power is enough for running a truck and trailer winch.

 If the truck is on, it’ll be easier for the winch to get more power as the truck’s electrical power system is also going to provide the power supply. As the main work is done by the gear system, winches don’t need a lot of electricity. 

How to Use an Electric Winch

Step: 1

For this method, you will need to properly evaluate the whole situation before you decide on the pulling plan for the winch. You should take all the time you need and not rush into it while assessing the options you have for recovering the vehicle from its stuck position. 

And any person who is with you to help or even if they are going to be a bystander, you should let them know of your plan so they do their due or keep out of your way. If they are helping you out, then let them know where all the cables and chains will be set for pulling the vehicle out of its position to a safe and free area.

Step: 2

Another thing you should do is wear leather gloves whenever you are grasping the winch metal cable or any other chain. There is a chance for the wire or cable to become frayed easily which could lead to holes piercing through your exposed skin. 

Thus, you should also never run your hands over the metal cables with or without gloves. Instead, use a hand shovel to remove all and any debris that could be found in front of the tires of your vehicle. 

What you can do is to create a slope and lead it outward from the position in which your vehicle is stuck in the direction through which you are going to pull. You should also be careful and look for any big rocks or branches of the tree in the pathway of your winch pull and remove them. 

Step: 3

Afterward, you can get your 12-foot chain wrapped around the body of any solid pulling structure which would be your anchor for the pull. In cases where you are going to use a live tree, you should protect the tree’s bark by using the 5-foot rubber mat. 

The way of doing it is to go to the backside of the tree’s trunk and then wrap the rubber mat around. Then, around the low part of the tree, loop the chain and make sure that the rubber mat is kept in between the tree anchor and your winch cable.

Step: 4

Once you have taken all the measures given above, you can now attach the chain of the winch to its cable hook. You must make sure, there are at least 3 rounds of cable still in the drum before you apply any stress on the cable of the winch.

In case you find that your cable is shorter than the required amount, you can always use the extension cable of 25-foot that has clevis hooks. At that time, no one should directly be near the pulling line of the cable. Pull the vehicle straight in line with the winch. One should never pull the vehicle from an angle other than straight. 

And you will also need to ensure that the cable has smoothly aligned itself onto the drum of the winch no matter what and also, the cable cannot be allowed to get on top of itself. If by any chance, your angle of pull is not straight with the winch, you can follow the given instruction next to correct your pull angle.

Step: 5

In the case of a mishap in your angle of pull, get a 5-ton snatch block and attach it to the 12-foot chain as well as to another rubber mat to get the vehicle in a straight line for pulling the vehicle. Your snatch block should be secured to another tree with the mat and the cable in the same way as described in the next step. 

So you’ll need to thread your winch cable through into the snatch block pulley so that it could be pushed straight into the drum of your winch. Use the snatch block’s arrangement to draw your vehicle effortlessly.

Frequently Ask Question

What is the reason to install electric winches on boats? 

To sail big boats at low strength. No matter what the size and physical condition of the boat. heavily-loaded functions can be performed in just one push on a button even in rough conditions, boats can sail without driving. 

Is it true that certain electric winches feature two speeds?

Some electric winches have 2-speed in the manual system but the single-speed in electric mode. 

Which methods should be able to power electric winch?

Electric winch can trim the chief halyard and genoa sheets, roll up mainsails, lift the anchor and also help to port the boat.

What size of an electric winch should someone choose? 

Size the winch in a way that it can carry the highest loads. Pick a winch that has 1.5x more weight pulling capacity than your vehicle’s weight. If you need to pull a 3000 lbs vehicle, then pick a winch with 4500 lbs pulling capacity.

Can anyone directly control their electric winch using its handle?

Yes. Winches automatically disconnect the electric motor when the winch handle is inserted into an unpack winch, in this situation the winch handle can be used manually. 

Could there be a connection between powered Radial® winches and racing? 

No. There are no lifelong racing disconnects available for winches, but some of them consequently detach the motor after connecting a winch handle. 

Where should a single electric winch be placed? 

Winches come in a design that can easily fit in any space. For mounting to a halyard cabin top is the perfect place. You should mount an electric winch on the cabin peak, but it limits space beneath. 

A few winch motors are partially attached middle the drum which only extends a little beneath the base. So there would be enough space for people to shift around. 

What are UniPower’s various speeds?

 UniPower has 2 powers of 12-volt and 24-volt. 

Define the UniPower’s line speed? 

The UniPower’s line speed is 25m/min under no loads. 

Difference between a standard electric winch and the Rewind™ electric winch? 

The function of a rewind electric winch is the same as the electric winch but it works in a rewind way and also can be cropped from both sides.

Is it simple to switch my traditional winch to an electric winch? 

Yes, you can convert your manual winch to a hydraulic or electric winch.

How much power do electric winches consume? 

The maximum consumption of an electric winch is 150 to 200 amps. As the winch works for around 10 minutes a day, electricity consumption is calculated in amp-hours according to their gross electrical needs.

How do winches of different speeds affect battery drain? 

A single-speed winch needs more battery power than a 2-speed winch. 

How can I figure out how many batteries I’ll need? 

The quantity of electricity the systems require per charging should be a third of the total battery volume. 

Define amp-hour and the process of measuring? 

The output of multiplying amps by hours of use measures the amp-hour.

What is amp-hours will an electric winch use every day? 

A 24-volt system uses 30-35 amp-hours and a 12-volt system needs 50-55 amp-hours per day. 

Voltmeters and meters can be used for checking battery consumption and the charging system of the winch. Some digital winch meters show this information on display. 

Is it important if my setup is 12 or 24-volt? 

The majority of boats in Europe are using a 24-volt system. Because it consumes half of the power than a 12-volt system. 

Is it necessary to have a separate battery for electric winches? 

No. In fact, you should have a bank of batteries to allow a draw slow of battery percentage from the main electrical supply and increase the battery performance. 

Exactly what sort of cells do I require? 

Gel cells can be handled deep discharges and are maintenance-free. You can use wet-type marine cells which are cheap at a cost but need perpetuation. Premium versions of this type provide longer life but also need high maintenance and are more expensive than others. 

You will need a circuit fuse, control box, some wires, switches along with a load controller to prevent the winch from getting overloaded. So this is all you have to know about safe and successful winching. Enjoy your off-road driving.

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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