Determining the winch strength you need in order to deliver the results you want depends on several factors. For some guidelines on how to find the best winch for your needs, read on below for a few basics to keep in mind.
Line Pull Rating
Each winch is rated with a line pull rate. This figure is typically the capacity of the first layer of the winch strength cable that is located the closest to the drum. When figuring the rated weight of a winch, it is important to take the gross weight of your ATV – that is, the curb weight, plus any accessories or gear you might have installed on it, as well as your own weight – and multiply that figure by 1.5. This gives you the added winch pulling power you will likely need if you wind up bogged down in a mud pit somewhere.
Length of Line
While you might want lots of line so you can reach further, there are distinct disadvantages to having excessive amounts. For one thing, to get the most pull from the winch, you need to release lots of line. However, the more line you have played out, the more likely it can get jammed up in the winch mechanism or snarled as you are trying to use it. One solution is to purchase a winch with less line, but to carry extra that can be spliced to the winch with a eye splice while you are on the go.
Most winches are quick to offload, a feature that lets you quickly get to work freeing your ATV. The speed under which it works when loaded is another matter completely. Almost all winches will slow down significantly when pulling in a load. If having a quick load speed is important to you, remember that there will be a tradeoff in that it will require a great deal of electricity in order to reach greater speeds.
Winches come in two basic types of electric motors: series wound (SW) and permanent magnet (PM). SW winches are designed for heavier duty use, as well as the off roader, who is out in the field every weekend, expecting power and performance. For the person who goes off roading only occasionally or who is very careful with their winch, a PM model could be a good choice. Be aware, though, that these models tend to lose power when the temps dip. In addition, they deliver up to 15% fewer amps than SW winches.
When it comes to purchasing a winch, it is best to go with quality and pulling power over a cheaper version. If you go into the buying process with the thought that you will use the winch more than you planned, you can’t go wrong.