Electric Winch and Hoist Buying Guide

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Electric Winch and Hoist Buying Guide

Electric winches are versatile pieces of equipment with a number of uses. In the shop, an electric winch can be mounted overhead and used as a hoist to lift heavy objects. As a vehicle accessory, an electric winch is often mounted on off-road vehicles and used to move heavy objects or pull the vehicle out of a bind.

Electric winches can be powered by a standard 12-volt car battery or 240-volt AC circuit. Winches are also a boating accessory; attached to a boat trailer, a winch can make easy work of pulling a boat out of the water onto the trailer. Winches can be purchased at home improvement stores, auto parts stores, recreational vehicle dealers, tool stores, and some department stores. Buyers looking for a large selection of electric winches and the convenience of online shopping should consider eBay to find the winch or hoist of their choice.

Types of Electric Winch Motors

While one can find a number of options for winch motors, there are two basic types of electric winch motors, namely, series wound (SW) or permanent magnet (PM), and each has characteristics buyers should be aware of. For frequent use, buyers require the SW motor, which works consistently for even heavy-duty applications in all types of weather. PM motors are usually found in light duty and less expensive models of electric winches. In extreme cold weather conditions, PM motors do not perform up to their ratings, as the PM motor produces less power in frigid weather. Also, PM motors are designed for light use and should not be overheated or abused.

Uses for Light-Duty and Heavy-Duty Winches

The following chart provides examples for the uses of heavy-duty SW motor winches and light-duty PM winch motors. Buying the wrong motor for specific applications can result in premature failure of the electric-powered winch or hoist. Light-duty winches should receive no more than 3 or 4 minutes of continuous use under load and then be allowed to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before being put into service again.

Winch Application


Recommended Motor Type


Tow trucks; repair shop engine winch hoists; fire and rescue operations; commercial fishing operations, including anchor or net retrieval

Series Wound


Overhead rolling winch hoists; loading platform winch hoists

Series Wound


Trailer winch, moving heavy objects such as boulders, stumps, or logs

Permanent Magnet


All-terrain vehicles; off-roading vehicles; boat trailers

Permanent Magnet

Mud bogging and rock-climbing vehicles

Heavy vehicle removal under extreme conditions

Series Wound

Winches are often listed as heavy-duty or light-duty without mentioning the motor type. Buyers should therefore inquire as to the motor construction when making the purchase. PM motors can be used in cold weather conditions for light jobs such as freeing a vehicle from an ice or snow patch.

Understanding Winch Ratings

There is a difference between winch ratings for pulling and lifting. Winches rated for lifting are marked as such, so consumers need to determine how they intend to use the winch and purchase a winch that meets the requirements.

Winch Pull Ratings

The winch pull rating indicates the weight capacity the winch is designed pull with the first line of cable on the drum and includes the tensile strength of the cable. As the cable line winds around the drum on the second, third, or fourth layer, the pulling capabilities are diminished with each layer. Depending on a number of factors, the pull rating is reduced 10 to 15 per cent on each layer. Incline can also affect the pull rating capacity of a winch. As a general rule of thumb, a winch should be rated to pull one-and-a-half times the gross weight of the object being pulled. If used on a vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight, not curb weight, of 4,000 kg, the winch should be rated at a minimum of 6,000 kg.

Winch Line Length

The important factor to remember about line length is that the longer the cable, the greater the opportunity for it to tangle, kink, or snarl and jamb. For most circumstances, 30 m of cable line is sufficient. Carrying an extra 15 or 30 m of extension cable equipped with hooks or eyelets is generally a better option than an extended length cable on the winch drum itself.

Winch Line Speed

Line speed refers to the speed at which the line is retrieved to the drum. Most electric winches have a line speed in the range of 1 m per minute. Line speed is a factor of horsepower, gear ratio, and gear type. Similar to pull ratings, the line speed is rated on the first cable layer on the drum. Unlike the decrease in pull rating for additional layers, line speed increases slightly as the layers build on the drum.

Winch Hoist Capacity

Hoist capacity refers to the lifting ability of the hoist and is generally expressed in kilogrammes. Hoist capacity is greatly influenced by the use of a chain, as opposed to the steel cable used on conventional winches.

Winch Hoist Duty Cycle

The duty cycle indicates how long the motor may be operated under continuous load or continuous usage. The horsepower of the motor, the lifting capacity, and type of lift all factor into the duty cycle of the winch hoist.

Winch Hoist Certification

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or ASME, sets standards for the design and construction of hoist lifts for commercial applications. Buyers who intend to use a winch hoist for an overhead application should make sure the hoist has the proper certification to ensure safe operation in the vicinity of the lifting operation. Businesses are required to maintain safety certifications through periodic inspections or face significant fines and penalties for using substandard equipment. 

How to Buy an Electric Winch or Hoist on eBay

Buyers looking for electric winches and hoists can take advantage of the convenience of shopping on eBay. Many sellers on eBay offer a large selection of winches at competitive prices. To begin your search, enter the term "electric winch" into the search bar on any eBay page. This gives you a listing of the winch products available on eBay. You may also choose to search specific categories such as car and truck parts, boat parts, or industrial winches. Use keywords such as "12,000 lb electric winch" to narrow search results to show only the products that meet the keyword description, or browse through hundreds of deals on automotive items.

After selecting the winch that meets your needs, it is important to contact the seller directly if you need additional information to make a buying decision. Additionally, take the time to verify the seller's background and track record on eBay by reading the feedback from previous buyers.


Winches are essential tools for businesses that need to hoist heavy objects and move them about the workplace. The potential uses for winches are numerous, and they are a handy tool in situations requiring the movement of large and heavy objects. Vehicle-mounted winches are used by tow trucks and emergency workers to move vehicles and other heavy objects. Winches are also popular recreational vehicle accessories for off-roading adventures, muddy trails, rock climbing, and the removal of trail obstacles. Buyers can benefit from understanding the different types of winches available on the market as well as what electric winch and hoist specifications mean. Buying the right winch for the job makes sure the task is completed successfully and safely.

With a large inventory of product related to agriculture, building, and DIY, eBay makes it easy for the consumer to locate and purchase the ideal electric winch or hoist needed for a job.

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