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Electric Winch Motors: Permanent Magnet and Series Wound Motors

The Midnight Series Recovery Winch uses a series wound motor for heavy duty winching.

The Midnight Series Recovery Winch uses a series wound motor for heavy duty winching.

There are two basic types of DC motors used for electric winches. The first type is a Permanent Magnet Motor and the second type is a Series Wound Motor.

1. Permanent Magnet Winch Motors

With a permanent magnet motor, the drain on your battery is less than a series wound motor, but they also generate more heat than series wound, so there’s a greater chance that your winch motor will overheat.


Because of this tendency to overheat under heavy loads, the permanent magnet motor is best suited for light to medium duty winching. For Jeep and truck winches, light to medium duty is generally regarded as pulls up to 9500 pounds.

You can compensate for this tendency to overheat by taking frequent breaks during the winching process to let the motor cool down. The heavier the load and the longer the pull, the more breaks you’ll need to take.

2. Series Wound Winch Motors

Series wound motors–such as those used in the Silverback Winches and Midnight Recovery Winches–are designed for heavy duty winching. They are powerful and efficient at high speeds. A permanent magnet motor uses less amp draw than a series wound motor; however, as the permanent magnet motor heats up, the power will drop as the amp draw increases. With a series wound motor, on the other hand, the amp draw will stay the same throughout the pull. Keep in mind that winches with series wound motors tend to cost more than winches with permanent magnet motors.

A Note About Horsepower

The higher the horsepower, the more torque and power that the winch motor will have. Horsepower directly affects line speed and pulling power.

A Note About Amp Draw

The max amp draw for a winch motor is typically around 400. Higher amps than that would damage the battery or power source. To lower the amps, the gear ratio must be increased. This reduces the amp draw on the motor, but unfortunately it also reduces the line speed, making for a slower winching process.

For heavy rigs, series wound motors are your best bet. They handle heavy loads and longer pulls with ease. The vast majority of truck and Jeep winches on the market today are series wound winches.

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2 Responses to “Electric Winch Motors: Permanent Magnet and Series Wound Motors”

  1. Sunshine Mel says:

    What exactly is light to medium duty winching? Is there a weight suggestion? Thanks!

    • Esther says:

      Doesn’t seem to be a hard-and-fast standard in the industry as far as what qualifies as a light to medium duty truck winch. As a general estimate, anything up to 9.5K would be considered light to medium duty and anything 10K and above would be medium to heavy duty. However, other manufacturers might categorize their winches differently than we do.

      A lot of it depends on the conditions you wheel in, too. Winching in mud puts a lot more stress on the motor. And if you double up, your medium duty winch is pulling a heavy duty load.

      Basically, for any medium to heavy duty load, a series wound motor is going to be more reliable than permanent magnet. The majority of truck and Jeep winches on the market rated for 8000 lb or more are series wound winches.

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