Best 12V Winches of 2020 – Ultimate Guide

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For off-roaders, a winch is absolutely crucial. Whether you move on the muddy paths for work or recreation, there is a chance you might come across some loose mud. The car may get stuck in that, and in such a situation, a winch is your best friend. It is also useful for day-to-day lifting and pulling tasks involving luggage, etc.

There are many manufacturers out in the market that produce good-quality 12V winches. They are strong and sturdy and very useful. But there are a few things that need to be considered before you invest in one.

For this reason, in this article, we will review some of the best available winches on the market and talk about what earns them their place amongst the best.

Our Top Picks for 12V Winches

  • Balanced winch
  • Convertible control pack
  • Stainless steel fasteners
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  • 3000lbs line pull
  • Sealed magnet motor
  • Mechanical brake
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  • Best for the Money
  • Portable winch
  • Free spool ability
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Comparison Chart of the Best 12V Winches

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Unique and balanced high-quality winch
  • Control pack is conveniently convertible
  • Fasteners made from durable stainless steel
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  • Impressive 3000 lbs line pull
  • Durable sealed magnet motor
  • Dynamic and mechanical brake
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  • Best for the Money
  • Portable and small durable winch
  • Equipped with free spool option
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  • Best 12V Portable Winch
  • Suited for truck, car and boat
  • Safe galvanized steel cable
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  • Best 12V Electric Winch
  • Very durable and waterproof
  • Has a free spooling clutch
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  • Best 12V Boat Winch
  • Designed for jeeps, trucks and boats
  • 3500 lbs rated line pull
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  • Best Mini 12V Winch
  • Equipped with permanent magnet DC motor
  • Strong and steady pull ability
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  • Best 12V Trailer Winch
  • Comes with wireless remote control
  • Equipped with automatic brake
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  • Best 12V ATV Winch
  • Strong 3000 lb rated line pull
  • Efficient dynamic braking system
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How Powerful is a 12V Winch?

An electric winch is known to pull more weight in a shorter time. A 12V winch is a popular choice, and it can pull up to 10,000lbs of weight, depending upon the strength of the motor and the rope. This makes a 12V winch fairly suitable for SUVs and ATVs.

Apart from pulling out of mud, it may also be used to give the vehicle an extra boost or lifts along steep terrains. It can also pull objects such as firewood or luggage, etc.

The winch easily mounts on the vehicle compatible with its size and draws power from the battery for operation. It makes traveling off-road easy and the riders more prepared for dealing with problems. 

Benefits of Investing in a Quality 12V Winch

Electrical winches are preferred over hydraulic ones in quite a few aspects. They prove to be a faithful companion for those who frequent off-road tracks.

Good For The Engine

A 12V winch, being an electric winch, derives its power from the battery rather than the engine. As a result, the engine is not overloaded in case the car needs to be hauled out. This proves useful as the engine needs to be robust and should be prevented from unnecessary wear on a demanding terrain such as that encountered during off-roading.

Will Work Even if the Engine Dies Out

Even if the engine dies out due to some reason and the vehicle gets stuck, a 12V winch would still be operational. It would connect to the battery and provide the necessary force required to pull the vehicle out to safety.

Cheaper and Sufficient For a Variety of Vehicles

They are capable of easily dealing with small to medium ranged weight and work perfectly for ATVs and SUVs. Moreover, they are cheaper than hydraulic winches of the same pulling capacity and are also easier to put up.

Quick Take  - Best 12V Winches

Before you get any further, here are our recommendations for the best 12V winches:

  1. WARN 89611 ZEON
  2. Superwinch 1130220 LT3000ATV
  3. Hiltex 11302

Review of the Best 12V Winches

Many companies manufacture 12V winches, and each is unique in its own capacity. In this section, we will review some of the best available options on the market. 

Best Overall:
WARN 89611 ZEON

WARN 89611 ZEON 10-S Electric 12V Winch with Synthetic Cable Rope: 3/8' Diameter x 100' Length, 5 Ton (10,000 lb) Pulling Capacity

PROS

  • Capable of tackling 10000 pounds of weight
  • Automatic mechanical cone brake for maximum safety
  • Convertible control packs make installation easy and allow variation
  • Planetary gear train system provides smooth and controlled operation
  • Improved exterior and asymmetrical design for a unique look and convenience of use

CONS

  • Rope is not easy to thread as the hole in the cylinder is a bit small

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers were over the top with their purchase. They really enjoyed the pulling capacity of the winch and reported that it would pull up to 10000lbs without losing speed or getting stuck. The choice of rope selection between steel or synthetic allowed the buyers to customize their winch according to their needs. The mount was not only useful in installation but also made the whole assembly theft-proof.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Quite a few aspects make this Warn winch stand out. Its exterior is intelligently designed with a wide winch drum that reduces wear on the rope and provides a space for a rope anchor point for easy replacement. Moreover, the symmetry in the design distributes load evenly for secure pulling without the danger of breaking the winch.

Then comes the convertible control pack, which allows the users to mount the winch however they please. For vehicles with large bumpers or unique designs, this feature proves quite useful. The whole assembly is coated with a black satin powder that is not only pleasing to look at but also provides resistance against corrosion.

In addition to the layout, the winch operates through the planetary gear train system while pulling that gives a smooth flow to the process and helps deliver power easily.  

Bottom Line

WARN has some amazing car accessories, and this winch is no exception. It is strongly built and protected against wear and tear due to corrosion. The accommodating design is backed up by strong brakes and a robust pulling system. Moreover, it is operated by a remote, which further adds to the ease of use.

Superwinch 1130220 LT3000ATV 12 VDC winch 3,000lbs/1360kg with roller fairlead, mount plate, handlebar rocker switch, and handheld remote

PROS

  • 3000lbs pulling power is suitable for a range of tasks
  • Manual brakes give all the control in the user’s hands
  • Small and compact design is easy to fit on the vehicle
  • Manufactured with a low amp motor to prevent the car battery from wearing out
  • Equipped with a wired handlebar, attached switch, and a handheld remote control

CONS

  • Mechanical brakes might get difficult to handle

What Recent Buyers Report

The winch worked great for most buyers. They were very appreciative of the whole kit, which was very well-thought-out and complete with parts. The winch was easy to install but very powerful in its working. It performed equally well in all seasons and under all climatic conditions with its easy installation, smooth working, and hassle-free maintenance.

Why it Stands Out to Us

An ATV requires a unique sort of a winch for proper usability. This Superwinch provides everything necessary to make it suitable for an ATV. It is small in size and easy to fit yet has a very powerful motor. The motor derives enough power to perform all tasks associated with an ATV without putting a strain on the battery. This is because the motor is low amperage and can deliver more power over less voltage.

Additionally, the winch could be controlled via a remote or through a switch attached to the handlebar. In case the remote dies out, the switch could be used in place. And in case the ATV is stuck in a way that makes the switch inaccessible, the remote could be used for controlling the operation. 

Bottom Line

ATVs are small and fast vehicles that are made to be used in mud and snow. Because of their small size, they cannot carry large winches on them. The Superwich has released this model for ATVs. It is durable and dependable at the same time. It offers 3000lbs of pulling power that is enough for an ATV, and a design that is very convenient to work with.

Best for the Money:
Hiltex 11302

Hiltex 11302 12V Electric Winch, 1500 lb.

PROS

  • Weighs 15.92 pounds and could be carried around in a car
  • Operable by remote control with a signal diameter of 10 feet
  • A 25-feet long cable is enough for reaching out to things a little far away
  • Attached spool allows pulling the rope manually without using any power
  • 1500lbs of pulling capacity makes it perfect for day-to-day loading, pulling, and lifting tasks

CONS

  • Winch is small, so it gets heated quickly and gets louder as the weight increases

What Recent Buyers Report

There are a variety of tasks that recent buyers have used this winch for. From pulling firewood to mounting motorcycles on the rack, it has worked effortlessly. It is small and fits easily, which makes it a very useful tool. Still, the power that it provides was enough to carry out heavy pulling and lifting. In addition, it wasn’t very difficult to carry around and could be easily transported between places. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

A winch proves very useful in carrying out day-to-day tasks involving pulling and lifting. Large and extremely powerful winches are not suitable for use in such cases. Hence, a smaller option like this Hiltex winch is often preferred.

It is small, but the size should not be mistaken for its power. It is capable of tackling up to 1500lbs of weight without any problem. The rope it harbors is strong enough to bear the load. The winch also supports the option of drawing out the rope with a spool, which only strengthens its usability.

To control the operations, a wireless remote is used. The remote has a reach of ten feet, and the winch is very responsive to its commands. Lastly, the unit is not very heavy, which makes it somewhat portable.

Bottom Line

For dragging luggage, pulling firewood, or for use in a mechanic’s workshop, the Hiltex winch could serve in numerous ways. Apart from its functional versatility, it is intelligently designed to not weigh too much and be easy to carry around. 

Best 12V Portable Winch:
Master Lock 2953AT

Master Lock Electric Winch, Portable 12-Volt DC Electric Winch, 2953AT

PROS

  • Features a pulling capacity of 2000lbs
  • Operable with remote control from afar
  • Galvanized cable and hook for additional safety
  • Covered design protects the motor against physical harm
  • Comes with a steel mounting plate, making for a complete package

CONS

  • Power cable is only 30 feet long which is a little short for vehicular use

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers have used the winch for tasks around the house and also for their cars and trucks. According to them, a pulling capacity of 2000lbs is surprisingly high for machinery this small. The power provided was enough to easily pull trees and wheelchairs as well as work with SUVs and ATVs.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Master Lock winch is small enough to be used around the house but still powerful enough to couple with a car. It is fairly quiet for its size and very strong as well. The hauling capacity is not just limited to 2000lbs when pulling but extends up to 5000lbs in case of marine pulling and 6000lbs in case of rolling. The different capacities are a testament to its multipurpose usability.

In addition, the winch is designed in a way to keep the motor protected. It also has a handle to lift or move it around easily. Being small and compact, with an enclosed build, makes it the most portable among all the discussed options. 

Bottom Line

The Master Lock winch is an incredible option for those who want a winch to help them carry out their daily tasks and to occasionally mount it up on the vehicle. Even though it is small, it can roll up to 6000lbs of weight and pull up to 2000lbs. This makes it strong enough to serve the purposes it was made for. 

Best 12V Electric Winch:
ORCISH IP67

ORCISH IP67 Waterproof 12V Steel Cable Electric Jeep Truck Winch 13000 lb.Load Capacity

PROS

  • Power-in and Power-put motors for positive and real-time load control
  • 13000lbs of pulling power deems it perfect for use with cars, jeeps, and trucks
  • An included overload protector to protect the motor and the battery against power overload
  • Composed of well-made heavy-duty parts, including contactors, solenoid, and high tensile rope
  • Operable by wired and wireless remote control, equipping the winch for use under all circumstances

CONS

  • Users cannot install the winch themselves; it requires a professional for proper setup

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers have had a good experience with their ORCISH winches. They were mostly used for dragging vehicles out of mud piles and did exceptionally well at that. For areas with wet mud patches, the wireless remote control proved to be a lifesaver as it made controlling the winch from a distance possible and kept the user out of the way of flying mud and stones. The whole assembly is waterproof and required low maintenance.

Why it Stands Out to Us

To start, the ORCISH winch is a verified IP97 waterproof machinery, which makes it reliable to use under all weather conditions. Be it snow, rain, mud, or sand; the winch is protected against damage from water and other elements. 

Apart from that, one of the major plus points about this unit is the overload protection. This protects the motor from damage against overloaded voltage and the vehicle’s battery from wearing out.

Additionally, it has a solid, dependable construction composed of strong and heavy-duty parts for uninterrupted operation and smooth workflow. The winch operates through the three-stage planetary system and is powerful enough to haul out vehicles as well as pull around heavy objects like trees.

Bottom Line

Ideal for pickup trucks and SUVs, this winch is capable of dealing with very heavy loads. For such heavy load-bearing, the overload protection is a smart addition on the manufacturer’s part. The whole kit is complete with multiple remotes, rope, mounting plate, and gloves, etc. This winch is one of the toughest available machinery out there.

Best 12V Boat Winch:
RUGCEL Winch RW3500lb

RUGCEL Winch 12V Electric ATV Winch 2 Remote Wireles Control Steel Cable Boat ATV Kit (3500 LBS)

PROS

  • 1.2 HP, series wound, permanent magnet, and low-amp motor
  • Backed by lifetime technical support and three years limited warranty
  • Equipped with manual and dynamic brakes for a responsive and active braking system
  • Designed as an all-purpose winch for all sorts of locomotives with a pulling power of 3500lbs
  • Resistant against water, corrosion, and moisture and protected against all weather conditions

CONS

  • Control wire is very short, and the user has to stand close to the winch during wired controlling

What Recent Buyers Report

According to recent buyers, the winch is very good for its price. The instructions manual has exact and precise steps that made installing very easy and completely hassle-free. Apart from that, the motor was reported to be fast and strong and did not derive too much voltage. The claim of it being multipurpose was well served.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The winch is not limited to be used in combinations with land vehicles only or for limited use around the house. Its functionality extends to cars, SUVs, ATVs, as well as boats. Since it is water and moisture-proof, it could easily and continuously be used underwater or on land without worry.

The motor responsible for the robust functioning is sturdy and powerful and protected by a circuit-breaker. It works without overburdening the vehicle’s battery. The motor is further complemented with very powerful dynamic manual brakes that give all the control in the user’s hands. 

Bottom Line

An all-purpose winch sounds too good to be true. This 3500lbs winch is suitable for use in many circumstances. It boasts a powerful motor, super responsive brakes, and a strong synthetic rope. All in all, it could pair as well with wheelchairs and boats as it would with SUVs.

The motor responsible for the robust functioning is sturdy and powerful and protected by a circuit-breaker. It works without overburdening the vehicle’s battery. The motor is further complemented with very powerful dynamic manual brakes that give all the control in the user’s hands. 

ZEAK 2500 lb. Advanced Off-Road 12V DC ATV/UTV Electric Winch, Synthetic Rope with Mini-Rocker Solenoid Kit

PROS

  • Pulling capacity of 2500lbs makes it suitable for UTVs
  • A circuit-breaker protects 1.1-horsepower permanent magnet DC motor
  • Rope measures 3/16''x50' in dimensions and is strong with high tensile strength
  • Whole assembly including the motor is IP65 waterproof and could be used in all weathers
  • All electric components are included in the kit and are protected by a three-year warranty

CONS

  • Wireless remote needs to be bought separately and is not included in the kit

What Recent Buyers Report

To recent buyers, the winch proved to be of very good quality with robust and efficient parts. They used it for ATVs and found out it works in perfect unison with them. It performed really well for its size for recreational four-wheelers and household chores, such as plowing the snow, etc.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The control box of the winch that houses the motor is fully waterproof. It is protected against flying mud and any sort of small pebbles that might have damaged the machinery. It can also withstand saltwater but needs to be rinsed with cold tap water once it is out of it.

But more interestingly, the control box is equipped with a switch that gives direct control over power feeding in and coming out of the winch. For enhanced protection for both the car battery and the winch motor, there is a circuit breaker that cuts off the power supply in case anything goes wrong or if the system is overloaded.

With a 1.1HP motor and iron construction, the ZEAK winch makes for a top contender in terms of quality of build and the work provided.

Bottom Line

The ZEAK winch is a great choice for UTVs. It is well-built with quality parts that are protected against the water and mud as well as from the general wear and tear. These are easy to set up and very efficient in their functioning. 

Best 12V Trailer Winch:
X-BULL 80012000A

X-BULL 12V Steel Cable Electric Winch 12000 lb Load Capacity

PROS

  • Quiet operation with waterproof and corrosion-resistant assembly
  • Capable of providing extremely large power that can pull up to 12000lbs
  • Automatic load holding enabled to avoid accidents and mishaps with the load
  • Power-in and power-out motor is present on the assembly for positive load control
  • Both wired and wireless operations are supported and both types of remotes included

CONS

  • Frame build could be improved a little

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers think that the winch provides excellent value for the money. In particular, the motor, steel rope, and wireless remotes are outstanding and perfectly serve their purpose. They were also very appreciative of the customer service that was responsive and solved the issue without unnecessary delays.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The X-BULL winch knows no bounds when it comes to heavy lifting. It is suitable to drag a car or a pickup truck out of deep mud. And it may also be used in flatbed trailers to lift up and put cars on board. The versatility in function is backed up by a strong motor and a good-quality rope with high tensile strength.

The winch is also exceptionally quiet for a winch with a 12000lbs pulling power. It is easy to operate and has the power in and power out motor to monitor and control positive load control. 

Bottom Line

Good-quality winches are the need for the loading and unloading business and heavy vehicles that go off-road frequently. Winches like the X-BULL provide the perfect solution to all the needs and prove to be a very useful piece of equipment. It can easily mount on the car and work with both wireless and wired remotes for ease of operation.

Best 12V ATV Winch:
Champion 13004

Champion 3000-lb. ATV/UTV Winch Kit

PROS

  • Works utilizing the planetary system for smoother power flow
  • Another smaller winch with 3000lbs line capacity for easier handling of smaller tasks
  • Comes with all the accessories, including a Fairland to guide the rope to avoid obstruction
  • One HP motor coupled with a 49-feet rugged rope for maximum strength and ensured safety
  • Dynamic brakes make the machine come to a halt quickly and without giving it a sudden shock

CONS

  • Only handlebar-mounted; the wired switch is available for controlling the operation

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers are of the idea that this smaller winch works better than many larger ones with higher prices. It is quiet in operation and fits easily on the mounting plate. It is easy to use and not very heavy to carry around. Hence, in addition to vehicles' tasks, they used them for many other things around the house or their work.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Champion has been known to put out one quality winch after the other. The company knows its business, and this 3000lbs winch is no exception. It has all the necessary requirements that make for a good, long-lasting winch.

It pulls hard yet remains fairly quiet. It may be used for many loading and offloading tasks in addition to those involving vehicles. In addition, it is very fast and easy to wire up, which saves time and effort. Equipped with a power-in and power-out motor, it further strengthens the safe operation by allowing for positive load control.

Bottom Line

Dynamic brakes and a planetary gear train system provide an unbeatable combo. In this Champion winch, they also work in unison to provide a quick and easy pulling solution while keeping the braking system ready and alert. This unit makes for one of the best smaller winches available.

Pros and Cons of 12V Winches

12V winches are electrical pieces of machinery and hence come with their own set of advantages and drawbacks. The most important ones of both of these are discussed here.

Pros

These features give the functionality that is desired of an electric winch and make a strong case in favor of buying the winch.

Drawing Power From the Battery

This may seem like something that damages the vehicle’s battery, but it is not. Contrary to electric winches, hydraulic ones draw power directly from the engine, which puts the engine under great strain and pressure. 

With electric winches, the power could be drawn from the battery under calculated and controlled amperage. This helps prevent overburdening the battery beyond its capacity. As a result, the winch works effortlessly while the battery is kept functional and upbeat.

Extensive Safety Mechanisms

12V winches are accompanied with very extensive and often multiple safety systems. These systems prevent not only the winch itself but also the battery. Including these are circuit-breakers that are capable of shutting down the whole machinery within seconds in case of overloading or fluctuations. 

Similarly, there exists overloading protection and a power-in and out motor that allows for positive load control.

Heavy Lifting and Pulling

As apparent from the options discussed above, there are plenty of pulling capacities available with 12V winches. They may be as low as 1500lbs for chores around the house or work like a workshop or a lifting station. And they may go up to 12000lbs, deeming them suitable for pulling pickup trucks and SUVs out of deep mud. All in all, with 12V winches, you can cover both ends of the extreme.

Cons

The cons need to be remained mindful of while buying a 12V winch to make sure they are suitable for your needs.

Operational Limitations

Since 12V winches are electrical, they do have limitations. These appear on the part of the winch itself and on the part of the powering battery. The winches have a limit to the weight they can pull. Meanwhile, the battery has power limitations, and they need to be prevented from overheating from constant and/or vigorous use.

Cautious Considerations to Keep in Mind While Shopping

12V winches should not be bought impulsively. They are a hefty investment, and you need to be absolutely sure before making one. Here we mention some cautious considerations for you to keep in mind while shopping for one.

Small Voltage

12V isn’t very high voltage that would amp up your winch in no time. Even though some options are faster than others, the winch still takes its time in running and then pulling on the load. Hence, they might not be as fast as winches with higher voltage and may derive power from the battery for longer.

Noisy Operation

Winches are getting improvements to make them quieter and quieter, but cheaper options still are very noisy. This is particularly because they are small and experience greater load. As a result, they produce more noise. In a quiet neighborhood, this might cause some inconvenience.

Water-Resistant, Not Waterproof

While most of these winches are water-resistant, not all of them are waterproof. This means that they may not be damaged by small amounts of water encountered during operation, but they must never be submerged in water. Water-resistant winches might also not be suitable for rain or snow.

Conclusion

Winches are a growing need, and their function is not limited to just pulling out cars. They are extensively used in loading and offloading tasks and underwater as well. 12V winches are a good choice, for they give a good range of line capacity, smooth operation, responsive brakes, and a strong line. One needs to be well-informed before deciding on one of them.

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