Determining the right amount of rated line pull is critical when choosing a winch. Rated line pull refers to the maximum amount of weight that a winch can shoulder, so you need a winch with enough strength to handle your vehicle's weight. Thankfully, there is a simple formula for calculating the correct rated line pull: Gross Vehicle Weight x 1.5 = Minimum Rated Line Pull.
It's important to note that a winch's rated line pull is not constant. When there are fewer layers of cable on the drum, the winch has a greater rated line pull than when the drum is full.
The basic difference between an electric and a hydraulic winch is the power source. Electric winches link to your vehicle's battery, and hydraulic winches tap into your power steering pump. These two power sources offer certain advantages and disadvantages. Electric winches are easy to install and there is a wide range of models to choose from. But, they put a lot of strain on your battery, require your vehicle to be running during pulls, and generate a lot of heat. Hydraulic winches, on the other hand, have an almost limitless supply of energy from the power steering pump, and they can run when your vehicle is turned off. However, their installation is involved, and there is only a limited number of versions to select from.
A winch's gear train has the all important job of transforming the energy from the motor into pulling power. Like the transmission in your vehicle, it uses gears to make this conversion. Planetary gear trains, the most common, have multiple gears working together to deliver faster line speeds. On the down side, they create more heat during pulls. In a worm gear train, there are only two gears, and they generate massive strength at cooler temperatures. Of course, the drawback is slower line speeds.
Not exactly. Steel cable and synthetic cable are both incredibly strong, and both are more than capable of hanging on to your heavy loads. However, synthetic cables are more prone to damage than steel, so they have a greater chance of snapping. Steel cables are more durable and easier to work with, but they add a lot of extra weight and can be incredibly dangerous if they break. Synthetic cables require more finesse during a pull, but they cut down on front-end weight and are much safer if snapped.