How to Wire an Electric Winch


Electric winches require power from a battery to be operational. With proper wiring, power can be provided to the winch through a vehicle battery or through a separate, auxiliary battery that powers the winch only.


The recommended way to wire your winch depends on three things:

SuperWinch Electric Winch

1. Where your winch is mounted

2. Type of winching

3. How often you use your winch





Wiring a Front-Mount Vehicle-Recovery Winch

There are two ways to provide power to a winch when it is mounted on the front of a vehicle. The two options are outlined below.


Wiring Diagram of Front-Mount Winch to Vehicle Battery
Winch Wiring Quick Disconnects

Option 1: Standard Winch Wiring Using Vehicle's Battery




Wiring Diagram of Front-Mount Winch to Auxiliary Vehicle Battery

Option 2: Using an Auxiliary Battery to Power the Winch





Wiring a Trailer-Mounted Winch

There are two ways to provide power to a winch mounted on a trailer. The two options are outlined below.


Wiring Diagram of Trailer-Mounted Winch to Vehicle Battery

Option 1: Wiring the Winch with Trailer and Vehicle Winch Wiring Kit




Wiring Diagram of Trailer-Mounted Winch to Trailer-Mounted Battery
Wiring Diagram of Trailer-Mounted Winch to Trailer-Mounted Battery

Option 2: Wiring the Winch to a Separate, Trailer-Mounted Battery


Updated by: Raymond P.

Last updated: 6/29/18





Questions and Comments about this Article

Aaron

I want to mount a winch inside of my enclosed ramp trailer. Do you sell a kit with all the items I need? I'd like a battery, a-frame tool box, battery mount, cables to charge the battery through the 4-pin hookup as well as a battery tender (for plugging into AC power). Is there a kit with all of these items? If not - what individual items do you recommend? Thank you.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

We don't have a complete kit with all of that in it, but I can definitely help you out. One thing to note right off the bat though is that your 4-Way wiring won't be able to support the amount of power needed to charge your battery or run your trailer winch. You're either going to need to add Anderson-type connectors and large wiring from your tow vehicle battery back to your trailer battery setup, or you'll need to install a 7-Way on both your tow vehicle and trailer. Also, what kind of weight rating are you needing for your winch?

Reply from Aaron

@JonG Thanks Jon. I'd like to install a 3500 pound winch. I'd rather not mess with the 4-pin connection either way. I would prefer to use a battery tender and perhaps a solar maintainer (if these 2 can work on the system together?). Ideally, I'd set up a battery that just does lighting inside the trailer and the winch - nothing else. Can you help me with part numbers for what I need? Including battery? Thanks!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Aaron We don't have any batteries to sell but I can help you out with everything else! For a winch I recommend either the Bulldog # BDW15017 for a wired remote or the ComeUp # CU645010 for a wireless remote. Then you'll also need the BCDC # 331-BCDC1225D with the Installation Kit # e79ZR . This gives you a battery charging setup, all the wiring you need, and the ability to add solar panels for charging as well. We do have a number of solar panels available like part # 34272634 that you can route inside your trailer using the entry plate # 34276245 .

Greg

Is there a way to install a12 volt switch in the cab to use as a cutoff switch for the winch? Not looking for inside control just a cut off switch.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Definitely! You could use something like part # BDW20039 to accomplish this. Attached is a link to our selection of switches for you to check out.

Russell E.

I have a badlands winch 12k and I can’t find the little “fuse” box that is connected to the red battery cable coming off the winch that attaches to the positive battery post. Does anyone know where I can order one or know if I even need it? Thanks

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

We don't carry an exact replacement, but we do have a decent selection of circuit breakers that I'm linking here for you to filter through that might work.

David R.

Can I use the winch to lift something in a vertical position?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

It is not designed for that kind of application. For vertical lift you need a worm gear winch like what you find in the attached link.

Paul S.

I have a warn 8000lb capacity winch, and would like to wire it, from trailer to truck, with quick connect. I have a 2018 doge dually diesel. Could you point me in the right direction, for the kit I need, and what to do. I've been looking at all kinds of kits. Thank you

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

I like the kit # BDW20026 for this. It gives you 24' of 3 gauge wire as well as quick-disconnects to complete your wiring. We have an installation video that I'm linking for you to check out as well.

Grant S.

I purchased a Badland 2500 winch for a utility trailer. I would like to power it using my Ranger trucks battery which will be about 15 - 20 feet away since the trailer will be behind it. The power cables that came with the winch won’t reach. How can I safely and correctly extend the cables? Can I use the same size cable or do I need to get a lower gauge/thicker cable due to the distance to the battery? Thank you.

Justin

What is electric line lock and where do I connect the little red wire from my toggle switch? Manual says little red wire is electric line lock but doesn’t tell where to attach it.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

What electric winch do you have?

Reply from David R.

@JonG 2500lb. Capacity Badlands

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@DavidR From what I could find it looks like the owner's manual says it doesn't matter. If you don't like the direction the winch goes with how the toggle switch is oriented then you can disconnect power from the battery and swap the wires. Please note that we don't carry the Badland winch so you'll want to confirm this in your copy of the owner's manual and/or with the manufacturer as well.

Jack O.

Have read many of your comments and appreciate your knowledge and helpfulness to others. I have a Traveler 4500 winch and would like to use it on the receivers on the back of three separate vehicles. A mule, pick up and a trailer. What are your suggestions for easiest hook ups to be versital Should i purchase a separate battery for it.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

The best ways to make your winch easy to move from one application to another is to either install wiring on all 3 applications and us the Anderson-type connectors like what you see in the kit # BDW20026 , or if you have room use a dedicated battery. The dedicated battery would mean less wiring for you to run but it also means you need to have a good way to store the battery and keep it topped off when not in use, but also have a good way to keep the battery protected from the elements when it is in use.

Richard H.

In option 2 you mention the need for a 60 Amp alternator. What does that get wired to?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

The alternator will already be on the vehicle. You just need to make sure that your vehicle has an alternator rated for 60 Amps.

Russell K.

Have installed 8000lb winch and battery on car hauler being pulled by 01 F250 with a 7 way plug. I have pin 4 Battery Charge (+) connected to battery on trailer to keep it charged. How much amperage does it supply, and also , do I need to disconnect it when using winch?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

I'm not sure on the exact amperage that the factory 7-Way on your F-150 provides, but I can say that it's enough to provide a good maintenance charge while the ignition is on. If you actually need to charge the battery up during travel you'll want to add a BCDC charger like the Redarc # 331-BCDC1225D to boost up that circuit. I would unplug from the battery when using the winch just to avoid any backfeed and also prevent the trailer battery from pulling too much from the start battery.

Ryan P.

I'm going to attempt to wire up my winch to my land rover defender some time this week.. The winch I have bought has resonably long power leads but land rover decided to put the battery under the passenger seat, so I might struggle to get the ground lead to reach the battery. (I'll have no problem reaching it with the positive lead) Is there any reason why I shouldn't just run the negative lead to the chassis, or does it need to go directly to the battery like in option 1? If I have to run it to the battery is there a way to reliably extend the cable if needed?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

You'll really want to run the ground wire all the way to the battery's negative terminal. Attaching it to the frame will increase resistance and may cause the winch and cables to run a lot hotter, which can lead to a lot of issues. A large load like this should have a dedicated ground directly to the battery. You'll just need to extend that wiring to reach.

David R.

I have installed a winch on my trailer in a tool box. I have a battery mounted in the box with winch connected. I want to run wire from 12v wire of harness to battery to maintain charge. I under stand all except was wondering if I am able to just use a 3 way toggle switch to cut the power to battery while winching. I have a toggle that is power in. Power to load and a negative. Will that work?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

Installing a switch like that in-line with the charge wire would work to cut off power when you're actually using the winch.

Nicole A.

Hello for wiring the winch with battery on trailer, and to maintain the charge when connected. Do I hook up the yellow wire Accessory wire or the black 12v power wire? wouldn’t either of these wires work to charge the power on the battery? And what if I used the yellow wire to connect to a dc to ac power inverter, then connected a small battery charger to that with necessary breakers and switches would that work?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

It depends how your 7-Way is wired up. If both the black and yellow wires are connected to the tow vehicle's battery, then either circuit could be used to maintain the charge on your trailer's battery. I'm not sure you'd get quite enough power form that circuit to run an inverter and a separate AC charger on top of that, though. For a good charge your best bet is a DC to DC charger like the Redarc # 331-BCDC1225D .

Phillip B.

I want to install a 2500# winch in my basement floor to help me pull my boat in , I was wanting to know if I could use a jackery 240 , it has a cigarette lighter socket and I wanted to just get a 12 volt plug with neg and positive and wire direct to winch as needed , it would be under much strain .

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

We don't carry the Jackery Power Stations, but from what I could gather I don't think the DC car outlet on the 240W unit will be enough to power the winch. With this size winch you're likely looking at a power draw of around 200 amps at full load, and around 15 amps just to power it (with zero load). The specs I was able to pull up on the Jockery lists a DC output of up to 10 amps using the car/cigarette port. Your best option here really is to just wire the winch directly to an auxiliary battery that you keep on hand for this purpose.



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