3 Important Parts of A Winch (You Should Know)

Understanding the different parts of a winch is the best way to make the best choice when choosing a winch. That’s why you should have enough knowledge about the important parts of a winch.

Here’s a brief overview of winch gear, motor and winch solenoid.

Note: If you’re planning to buy a winch. Then you can read our reviews of X bull winches, Smittybilt winches and Warn winches. You should also read about winch ropes before you buy one.

Winch Gear Types Explained

Winches mainly come in three different types of gear systems. They are: Planetary gears, Worm gears, Spun gears.

1. Planetary Gear

Planetary gears are the most common and most popular for automatic transmissions. They are named planetary gear because they look like the sun with some revolving planets. It’s actually a gear set inside or on a large gear.

Nowadays most electric winches use planetary gear. They are typically more compact which allows for less cost and weight. They offer strength and smooth operation with good resistance to torque loads. The planetary gear systems have a power transfer efficiency of 65%.

One of the negative points of planetary gear is heat accumulation on the brake unit.

2. Worm Gear

Winches with worm gear are ideally suited for workman or industrial applications. They’re not generally used on off-road winches. Their special features are lowering and load holding. That’s why they’re a popular choice for tow trucks.

The worm gear has a power transfer efficiency of 35 to 40%. They provide very high reliability, reduction and built-in braking mechanism. They’re simpler and stronger than other gear systems.

Their downside is that they pull far slower than electric winches.

3. Spun Gear

Spun gear has the power efficiency of 75 percent. They consist of one small wheel-shaped gears and one large wheel-shaped gears. The smaller gear connected to the motor and makes the larger one to run. They’re not expensive but still perform well.

Spun gear winches have fairly low amperage draw. But they are fast. Only the legendary WARN M8274, which is one of the top winch manufacturers, has a spun gear still on the market.

Winch Motor Type Explained

Winches come with two types of DC motors: Permanent Magnet Motors(PM) and Series Wound Motors(WM).

All DC winch motors have a set of coils inside them which is called the armature. Inside this armature, there is either another set of field coils or a set of permanent magnets which is called stator.

The higher the horsepower rating, the more power and torque the motor will have. The motors horsepower has a direct effect on both pulling power and line speed.

1. Permanent Magnet Motors

The stator of permanent motor uses permanent magnets and there are no field coils. They cause very little strain on the battery than series wound motors and typically cost less. They offer good pulling power and performance.

Permanent magnet motors are better suited for light to medium duty winching jobs. As permanent magnet motors are less tolerant to heats, winching time and load should be taken carefully. This type of motor can lose power in extremely cold conditions.

2. Series Wound Motors

When it comes to the series wound motor, the field coils are connected in series with armature coil. They are very powerful and generate the most torque for a given current. SW motor uses more current over a PM motor because they use field coils to generate the magnetic field.

Series wound winches are heavier duty winches which will help you to overcome the most difficult recovery situations. They usually cost more and sometimes require upgrading the alternator, battery or other components for reliable performance. The series wound is a better option for cold weather or heavy duty use.

Winch Solenoid

What is the Solenoid?

Solenoids are electromagnetic switches. The winch solenoid is used to control the movement of the winch motor. Some machines come with two solenoids. But, those with four solenoids tend to be more dependable and efficient.

Solenoid Mounting

This is one of the major considerations. Winches can either come with an integrated or Remote Solenoid pack. An integrated solenoid is part of the winch and a remote solenoid is externally mounted off of the winch. Both types have some benefits.

2 or 4 Solenoids?

Winches have 2 or 4 solenoids. Permanent magnet motor winches typically come with 2 solenoids. They’re less powerful, cheaper, less reliable and heavier. On the other hand, Series wound motor winches typically come with 4 solenoids configurations. They’re lighter, stronger and more reliable.

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