How Long Will a Winch Run on a Battery? (Explained)

How Long Will a Winch Run on a Battery

Winch motors and the batteries you use in them will have different amounts of hours available depending upon their size and horsepower. Larger winch motors with larger motors will have a lot more power, but will also drain the battery faster when running.

Talking about hours on batteries for winches can be very difficult to determine how long will a winch run on a battery due to variables within your environment as well as what you will be using your winch for.

Electric Winch Battery Basic

Winch motors are powered by DC current, much like the power source in your car. The difference is that a winch motor has brushes and an armature, much like your starter or generator.

So, whether it’s started with a remote control box or with jumper cables hooked to your battery, you’ll be running on DC current either way. However, there are two batteries involved: one for the winch itself (discharged) and one powering the driving vehicle (ideally fully charged).

To run off of the power stored in the driving vehicle’s battery, just connect jumper cables to its terminals – but don’t turn anything on yet!

Electric Winch Battery Basic

Let both batteries charge up completely before turning on the electricity. Otherwise, you risk having a dead battery (running with the winch), and a flat battery (from using too much power). You can easily avoid this issue by running your winch off of its own unconnected battery.

To run it with an “unattached” battery, all you need is another car or truck and jumper cables – or if available, a set of jump-start leads: heavy duty clamps that attach directly to the discharged battery.

Otherwise, skip right to charging up batteries separately. If you’re hooking up the leads yourself, follow the instructions for maintaining good polarity (+ to + and – to –) on both batteries, then start your engine immediately after connecting them together!

Repeat as necessary according to your specific situation for how long a winch will run on a battery.

What size battery do I need to run a winch?

A 12 volt battery can generate about 55 amperes of current for 20 hours at 50% discharge depth. The capacity of the battery will be the most important factor.

What size battery do I need to run a winch

Tech background Fact: A typical deep cycle battery can produce 300-400 amps for 5 to 30 seconds before they are drained. Some winches draw as much as 1,200 amps at startup and bring this number down to 500-700 amps when operating under a load.

Most quality winches pull about 450 amps so an 80 amp hours battery will work fine for that application if you recharge the batteries every few months or run your vehicle engine for a while after use.

An alternator or generator is built into many vehicles and charges the standard car battery during operation of the vehicle engine and will keep it charged up pretty well with limited usage.

If you leave your vehicle parked and don’t drive it enough, the charge level of the battery will drop over time while it is connected to the winch through the DC plug on your battery.

According to the Toolsbible Automotive blog, an alternator or generator can definitely take care of an electric winch if there is enough power being produced by the vehicle engine and you use the standard car battery rather than a deeper cycle marine grade deep cycle battery for this application.

 A deep cycle battery is generally more expensive than the standard car battery and provides much greater capacity for storage of energy to power your electric winch.

An up-front cost savings would be to run an automotive grade 12 volt deep cycle battery instead of a marine grade 12 volt deep cycle battery

What size battery do I need for 5000 lb winch?

The winch is designed to pull 2,000 pounds at a time. You need 12v larger battery because of this, and so that you will have power for other things as well.

What size battery for 2500 lb winch?

To power a 2500-pound winch, consider a deep cycle 12V or 24V battery. This type of battery is designed to provide a steady power supply over a long period of time and to be discharged down to very low levels without being damaged.

A starting battery may also work but could have its life shortened because it will be constantly drained when the vehicle is parked for extended periods of time.

In colder climates, consider adding supplemental heat in the cab to keep the engine warm while the vehicle is not running so that it can start easily on extremely cold mornings if the battery goes dead.

Summary: A 12-volt or 24-volt deep cycle battery can be used to power a 2500 lb. winch. To prevent damage to the battery, it is best to use a deep cycle rather than an automotive or starting type.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you run a winch off a battery?

An electric winch often called a power puller, is an incredibly useful tool for off-roaders. However, to use it efficiently you need a constant flow of power.

This means that if your batteries are not fully charged or are nearly dead then the winch motor will be inefficient at best and completely unusable at worst.

How big of a battery do you need for a winch?

The battery is the heart of the electric winch. It provides the power to perform the mechanical functions required to operate the winch. In specific terms, a battery must have enough starting power to turn over an engine with the moon on it.


Bear in mind that we’re not asking about how long a winch will run before needing to be recharged (as the winch will likely require more juice than your battery can offer), but how long your battery will last under normal operating conditions.

That is, the most you would ever need to use the winch at a given time would be for as long as the battery can last before needing a recharge.

A winch should automatically turn off when not in use, but even if it doesn’t, you’ll likely want to adjust the settings so it does.

The reason for this is simple: if your winch works too hard for too long a period of time, the wire inside could overheat and melt away or break. This might leave you without a hook longer term.

Up Next: What Size Winch for Car Trailer?

About Tools Archive Team

Avatar for Tools Archive TeamWe're a group of people who know a lot about home improvement and automobiles. All of our members are experts in their fields. We wrote this blog to answer your questions about home improvement and automobiles.