Winch Fundamentals 101 – What You Need To Know!

Truck winch bumpers are one of the more popular upgrades that many off-roaders make to their trucks. The right winch can be instrumental in a great recovery if you end up stuck somewhere out on the trail. Yet do you really know how to pick the right type for those winch bumpers? Before you make any purchasing decision, learn about the important components and available options so you will make the right choice for your priceless off-road truck or Jeep.

Winch Motor Types

Electric bumper winches get their power from built-in motors. They can be purchased with two different motor types: permanent magnet or a series wound one. Although both motor types work using a coil and magnet to generate magnetic energy once electricity is applied to them, the two types do have some functional differences.

A permanent magnet motor has built-in magnets and no field coils. This motor creates less drain on the truck battery; however, it is recommended for lighter duty as it does generate more heat and in fact can overheat. A series wound motor creates its magnetic reaction through the use of a series of connected coils, producing higher amounts of torque according to the electrical current. These motors are better for heavier winching and do not heat up as much; however, they do put a higher load on the battery. Series wound motors are definitely stronger but also more expensive.

Solenoid Number and Mounting

A solenoid is an electrical switch that powers the winch motor when the winch is turned on; it receives electricity from the truck battery. Solenoids can be either internally or remotely mounted, depending on winch design and available mounting space. Winches with internal solenoids usually have two solenoids, while those with remotely mounted solenoids usually have four. The more solenoids available, the more power the motor receives at one time. Most series wound motor models have four remotely mounted solenoids, while most permanent magnet motor types have two internally mounted ones.

Winch Gears and Spool Diameter

Winch gears convert high-speed electrical energy from the motor into low-speed gear movement that turns the cable spool or drum. Bumper winches are available with three gear types: a worm gear, a spur gear system, or planetary gears. Planetary gears are fairly efficient, offering more power and winching strength but the setup requires a braking mechanism to prevent loose spooling. Worm gear systems are not as efficient in power transfer, but they are self-braking. A spur gear system offers the highest level of power efficiency but also require a braking mechanism.

In addition to the variations in gear systems, power efficiency is also affected by spool or drum diameter. The wider the diameter of the winch spool, the greater the loss of power as the cable winds up and adds layers. Considering these differences, the strongest gear setup is one with spur gears and a smaller, thinner spool.

When choosing winch bumpers, owners of off-road trucks need to think about the amount of power needed based on a truck's size and weight. There are definitely pros and cons to all of the different component options; however, a suitable choice is one that can provide the power necessary for the truck it’s mounted on. With the right setup, you’ll be able to safely and reliably winch your truck should you end up stuck out on the trail!

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