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Author Topic: Wire gauge for 12V winch  (Read 4554 times)

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Offline Delawhere Jack

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Wire gauge for 12V winch
« on: December 27, 2012, 06:27:12 pm »
I picked up a Ramsey Patriot 8,000 lb winch today and I want to wire it with a long cable, 25'-30'. The current draw at maximum line pull is listed at 420 amps. I've been shopping around for quick disconnect cable kits, and the prices are SCARY!!!! :o

I'm looking for advice one whether 2ga wire if really needed, or if 4ga would suffice? I've tried some Google searches but couldn't find any info for that much amperage. The truck has an 850 CCA battery, so I should be alright there. I'd like to set this up so I can mount the winch in the rear receiver hitch and be able to move it to the side of the bed or to a nearby trailer.

Thanks,

Jack.
Things I've sawn: black walnut, cherry, SYP, southern magnolia, poplar, hemlock, osage orange, red oak, white oak, chestnut oak, locust, english walnut, ERC, WP, hickory, ash, black birch, beech, honey locust and a "Christmas tree" full of iron.

Offline clww

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2012, 07:42:55 pm »
I have always used 2 gauge on all my truck winches, from 8,000 to 12,500 lbs.
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Online sawwood

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2012, 08:31:33 pm »
Jack we have a 3000lb winch on our trailer to load logs. I needed a cable to run the winch
from the battery on my Jeep. I found one on ebay for $35.00. It had eye connectors on
both ends. It was 25' long and i think it was #6 wire. They where outher one so check
there. It also had a quick disconnet on one end also.

 Sawwood
Norwood M4 manual mill, Solar Kiln, Woodmaster
18" planer/molder

Offline Delawhere Jack

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2012, 09:50:16 pm »
I guess what I should have asked, any advice on putting together a 2 gauge harness myself from parts rather than buying one? I know copper prices are high, but $170 for a 20' cable and a couple plastic fittings!?!?!? I don't think so!!

Things I've sawn: black walnut, cherry, SYP, southern magnolia, poplar, hemlock, osage orange, red oak, white oak, chestnut oak, locust, english walnut, ERC, WP, hickory, ash, black birch, beech, honey locust and a "Christmas tree" full of iron.

Offline Sprucegum

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2012, 01:15:57 pm »
Rather than a dedicated harness for the winch, I built a 25 foot set of booster cables. Just as much money to make but they have more opportunity to pay for themselves - which they have done almost every winter.
I used number 4 welding cable; durable and flexible.

I have a reciever hitch on front and rear of the truck, and on the log trailer, and on the tractor, and on the jeep...

Offline fuzzybear

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2012, 01:26:59 pm »
Ditto to what Sprucegum said.  I found a set of 20', #4 jumper cables on sale with copper clamps for $100. I use them for every thing electric.
FB
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Offline Brucer

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2012, 03:43:29 pm »
Looking at it from a different angle ...

Drawing 420 amps of current through 30' of #2 gauge wire drops the voltage by 2 volts! If you use a pair of cables the total voltage drop is 4 volts, leaving you only 8 volts at the winch.

Drawing 420 amps of current through 30' of #4 gauge wire drops the voltage by 3.2 volts! If you use a pair of cables the total voltage drop is 6.4 volts, leaving you only 5.6 volts at the winch.

Electric motors draw whatever current they need to supply the necessary power. If the voltage at the motor goes down, the current draw will go up. That overheats the motor and eventually it burns out. It also produces less torque so it won't be pulling as hard as it normally would.

Now the (sort of) good news. The winch manufacturer has already allowed for some voltage drop in the wires you connect it with, so the situation isn't quite so bad.

Some suggestions:
  • Keep the wire length as short as you possibly can. The difference between a 25' cable and a 30' cable is significant (that means the total length, from the winch to the battery).
  • Use good quality connectors -- cheap ones can have a lot of voltage drop across them.
  • If you need longer wires for only some of the time, make up two sets and use the shorter ones whenever you can (Yeah, I know, expensive. Compare it to the cost of a new winch).
  • Try to keep the load on the winch down when you're using the cables.
Bruce    LT40HDG28 bandsaw with two 6' extensions, ED22 twin blade edger.
"Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers."

Offline Delawhere Jack

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2012, 04:52:31 pm »
Brucer, thanks for the info. It reminds me of my retail lumberyard days. We sold a lot of those little portable compressors. People would try running them off of 50' or 100' 16ga extension cords and ended up burning up the motor or frying the cords.

I've pretty much resigned myself to buying a wiring kit, probably the Warn quick disconnect kit. It comes with a solenoid to shut off power when not in use, but there is no fuse or breaker.

There is no mention of a fuse or breaker in the literature that I've seen from Ramsey or Warn. Do you guys run without them?
Things I've sawn: black walnut, cherry, SYP, southern magnolia, poplar, hemlock, osage orange, red oak, white oak, chestnut oak, locust, english walnut, ERC, WP, hickory, ash, black birch, beech, honey locust and a "Christmas tree" full of iron.

Offline Bandmill Bandit

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2012, 05:58:47 pm »
At 25 feet you should use minimum 2 with at least a 475 amp connector block.

Check this link out and then make on up with 2 O.

http://www.centurytool.net/Start_All_500_Amp_Plug_Cable_Set_20ft_2_gauge_p/12-475.htm

IMHO.

You wil not regret it.
If you ain't livin on the edge you are takin up way to much room. Of course at my age if I get too close to that edge any more theres a good chance I may fall off.

Offline pineywoods

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2012, 06:20:36 pm »
Hey, there's nothing that says the winch has to run off the vehicle battery. Use a second battery mounted as close as possible to the winch, then parts store starter cables to the winch. Then you can get away with #8 or 10 wire with a fuse inline, up to the vehicle battery.  That's enough to recharge the aux battery while you drive...Lots less likely you will run the vehicle battery down and can't get it started. Been there and done that..
1995 Wood Mizer LT 40, Liquid cooled kawasaki,homebuilt hydraulics. Homebuilt solar dry kiln.  Woodmaster 718 planner, Kubota M4700 with homemade forks and winch, stihl  028, 029, Ms390
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2012, 09:07:09 am »
Good point Piney.  My trailer winch runs off of a separate battery.  I take it out of the trailer and hook it up when needed.  It stays hot for several month on a recharging at the shop.
Knothole Sawmill, LLC     '98 Wood-Mizer LT40SuperHydraulic/Lombardini/Kohler

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Offline pineywoods

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2012, 10:01:24 am »
There's another option that I use. I mounted the winch permanently on the front bumper of the pickup. Electric cables are nice and short and there's a remote switch in the cab.  Here's the nice part. Welded a reciever for a standard hitch underneath the winch. When I get to the job site, I un-hitch the trailer, move the hitch to the front of the truck and hook up the trailer to it. Maneuvering a trailer in tight places is a bunch easier. I don't have eyes in the back of my head and the old neck is getting old and stiff. Try it, you'll love it...
1995 Wood Mizer LT 40, Liquid cooled kawasaki,homebuilt hydraulics. Homebuilt solar dry kiln.  Woodmaster 718 planner, Kubota M4700 with homemade forks and winch, stihl  028, 029, Ms390
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2012, 10:06:28 am »
 smiley_idea  Brain power is an awesome force.  You are amazing Piney.   smiley_thumbsup
Knothole Sawmill, LLC     '98 Wood-Mizer LT40SuperHydraulic/Lombardini/Kohler

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Offline Brucer

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2013, 12:31:01 am »
... Use a second battery mounted as close as possible to the winch, then parts store starter cables to the winch. Then you can get away with #8 or 10 wire with a fuse inline, up to the vehicle battery....

For sure. You only need to draw 420 amps for a short time. The second battery smooths out the current demand on the charging wires.
Bruce    LT40HDG28 bandsaw with two 6' extensions, ED22 twin blade edger.
"Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers."

Offline Delawhere Jack

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2013, 04:41:26 pm »
Thanks for all the info. Well, I loosened the stranglehold on my wallet and went with the Warn kit. It just arrived today. You'd think for $172 they'd include a plug to install on your existing cables. Nope. Off to Grainger and another $15 spent.

After pricing the components locally I found that there was very little to be saved by fabbing it myself.

Things I've sawn: black walnut, cherry, SYP, southern magnolia, poplar, hemlock, osage orange, red oak, white oak, chestnut oak, locust, english walnut, ERC, WP, hickory, ash, black birch, beech, honey locust and a "Christmas tree" full of iron.

Offline Bandmill Bandit

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2013, 12:05:20 pm »

After pricing the components locally I found that there was very little to be saved by fabbing it myself.

Yea but its just better when you build it your self specially if you do a build like I do.  ;D

 
If you ain't livin on the edge you are takin up way to much room. Of course at my age if I get too close to that edge any more theres a good chance I may fall off.

Offline DR_Buck

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2013, 03:55:00 pm »
Looking at it from a different angle ...

Drawing 420 amps of current through 30' of #2 gauge wire drops the voltage by 2 volts! If you use a pair of cables the total voltage drop is 4 volts, leaving you only 8 volts at the winch.

Drawing 420 amps of current through 30' of #4 gauge wire drops the voltage by 3.2 volts! If you use a pair of cables the total voltage drop is 6.4 volts, leaving you only 5.6 volts at the winch.

Electric motors draw whatever current they need to supply the necessary power. If the voltage at the motor goes down, the current draw will go up. That overheats the motor and eventually it burns out. It also produces less torque so it won't be pulling as hard as it normally would.

Now the (sort of) good news. The winch manufacturer has already allowed for some voltage drop in the wires you connect it with, so the situation isn't quite so bad.

Some suggestions:
  • Keep the wire length as short as you possibly can. The difference between a 25' cable and a 30' cable is significant (that means the total length, from the winch to the battery).
  • Use good quality connectors -- cheap ones can have a lot of voltage drop across them.
  • If you need longer wires for only some of the time, make up two sets and use the shorter ones whenever you can (Yeah, I know, expensive. Compare it to the cost of a new winch).
  • Try to keep the load on the winch down when you're using the cables.

For the electric winch I have mounted on my flatbed trailer I have a pair of 30' #2 welding cables made up with quick disconnect that I plug into my truck battery and I drape them over the cab back to the trailer when I need to use them.   To overcome the voltage drop Brucer identified as a problem I installed a high capacity deep-cycle 12 volt battery at the winch on the trailer.   This has server me well for over 8 years.  I've had to replce the battery once so far.  If the deep-cycle is fully charged sometimes I can use the winch without hooking up the cable run.   With the cables hooked up the trailer mounted battery is under constant charge whenever the truck is running.  I think this also protects my truck batteries and alternator as well.
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Offline Tom the Sawyer

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Re: Wire gauge for 12V winch
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2013, 01:36:38 pm »
 smiley_thumbsup smiley_thumbsup on mounting a battery next to the winch rather than stringing long, expensive, cables from the front of the truck.  I use a deep-cycle battery and it has always had plenty of power to get my trailer loaded.  I have the MileMarker 9000 lb winch.  Just use the cables provided with the winch.  I have the auxiliary 12v wire to my trailer socket but have never used it to charge the winch battery.  Just start with a fully charged battery (I do take a spare but haven't needed it).  If I had to pull several trailer loads a day it might be a good idea to hook up the charge wire.

Pineywoods,  I too mounted a receiver hitch on the front of my F350 and it has saved the day several times.  Not so much for maneuvering the trailer but more so for threading my mill into places I might not have been able to reach otherwise.  Really helpful when milling close to someone's home, outbuildings or standing trees.  I also have an iBall magnetic trailer camera which saves a lot of in-and-out while hooking up.
07 Timberking B-20, Custom-made log arch, 20' trailer w/ log loading arch, F350 SD flatbed dump.  Princeton piggy-back forklift.  Stihl 025C 16" and a Husqvarna 372XP 24/30" bars.
If you call and my wife says "He's sawin logs", I ain't snorin'.