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Electric Winch Wiring and Installation Tips

Midnight Recovery Winch Wiring

Winch wiring diagram for the Midnight Series recovery winch

Learning how to properly route the electrical wiring for your ATV winch or recovery winch is important for correct operation and for your own safety. The installation tips below provide a few key tips for winch wiring. Consult the instruction manual included with your winch for more information.

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Routing the Wiring

Do not route electrical wiring over sharp edges or in places where they will touch parts that become hot. If the wiring is allowed to chafe or melt, this could damage the insulation that protects the wiring and cause a short circuit. Ensure that the wiring harness does not interfere or come in contact with any hot or moving engine, suspension, steering, braking, or exhaust parts.

Avoid routing the wiring through or near moving parts. In the case of wiring a handlebar thumbswitch on an ATV, make sure there is enough room to fully turn the handlebars without stretching the wiring. Then cable tie the wiring to hard points on the handlebars and bike to secure it in place. Secure the switch and wiring to the handlebar with black electrical tape to prevent rotation.

Protect the Wires from Damage

Insulate and protect all exposed wiring. Use insulating terminal boots as needed to prevent shorting and reduce the risk of electrical hazards.

Winch wiring for ATV and UTV winches

Winch wiring for ATV and UTV winches

When attaching wires to the winch motor or solenoid terminals, hold the inner nut with a wrench while tightening the outer nut with a second wrench. Do not allow the terminals to rotate in their housings. Rotation could cause internal wire damage or part misalignment.

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Install all electrical wiring only after the winch is mounted on the vehicle. Do not attempt to install wiring when the battery is connected. After installing and securing all wiring, take a minute to ensure that your system is properly installed and free from restrictions. Then you may attach the wires to the positive and negative terminals of the battery.

Is Your Battery Up to Snuff?

Make sure that your battery or power supply meets the minimum requirements for the operation of your winch. A 12 volt DC battery is required for most electric winches. Even with sufficient battery power, you will need to make sure not to overload or overheat the winch. Electric winches are designed for intermittent use. For long pulls, stop winching periodically and allow the motor to cool before resuming operation. If the winch is under heavy use, we suggest installing an auxiliary battery and heavy-duty alternator to handle the load.

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