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Old 04-13-2014, 11:24 AM
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The 'funny' thing about winch duty cycle...

'Funny' not in the humorous sense, but in the 'hmmm' sense.

For one thing, there seems to be little said about a winch's duty cycle. Duty cycle is the ratio of how long something is 'on' to how long it is off. Some things are rated continuous, meaning full on all the time, other things, like winches, have a duty cycle. The problem is motor heating. You just can't run 300-400 amps through a small motor like winches have without heat building up.

So you typically have to run the winch, stop it for a while to let it cool down, and then go again. Yet in all the winching videos I've watched, nobody does that or mentions the need to observe duty cycle.

Having just received my Warn Zeon winch, I carefully read the manuals that came with it to see what the recommended duty cycle was - I couldn't find anything! Yet I could find a power out duty cycle warning, it says, and I quote:

"Do not power out more than 30 feet without allowing the winch to cool for 20 minutes before powering rope back in..."

????????

OTOH, the manual says that when the motor approaches stall speeds the motor can heat up very quickly. Hmmm, yet they consider out-spooling for one minute to be the max continuous operation.

Can someone make some sense out of this?

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Old 04-13-2014, 11:53 AM   #2
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Powering out often involves the winch working against the brake and can lead to much higher internal heat then powering in.

Mike

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Old 04-13-2014, 11:58 AM   #3
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In most cases you will be free spooling out & powering in. Much less heat generated because you are working with the break
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Old 04-13-2014, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by onetraveller View Post
Powering out often involves the winch working against the brake and can lead to much higher internal heat then powering in.

Mike
So the winch has to overpower the brake when it winches out. The brake is such a heavy load on the motor that it causes the motor to heat quicker than winching in against an 8000 lb load????
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Old 04-13-2014, 01:19 PM
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In most cases you will be free spooling out & powering in. Much less heat generated because you are working with the break
Understand the free spooling out. What's baffling is why they would design the winch so that it has to over power the brake in order to spool out. That's hard on the motor, brake, and battery.
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Old 04-13-2014, 03:15 PM   #6
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Because spooling it out under power is for when theres a vehicle on it. Like if you were winching yourself up a rock and had to back up a little cause you were gonna hit a tree....

You freespool it out in normal use.

And even if you powered it out without a load on it it would not make much heat. Just waste battery power.

How far are you really gona be winching? In normal use like...ten feet?
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Old 04-13-2014, 03:29 PM
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Because spooling it out under power is for when theres a vehicle on it. Like if you were winching yourself up a rock and had to back up a little cause you were gonna hit a tree....
So, then the brake is applied in power out and the winch does have to overpower the brake to spool out?

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...You freespool it out in normal use.
Yep, I understand that, that really isn't the issue.

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Originally Posted by michiganadam View Post
...And even if you powered it out without a load on it it would not make much heat. Just waste battery power.
That's not what Warn says, but that may be what they mean. The warning I quoted in the OP, comes right after free spooling as a means to get the rope out. Then they say don't power out more than 30 ft and then let the winch cool for 20 minutes before spooling back in. So maybe they are assuming we know one (free spooling) is an unloaded condition and the other is under load. And apparently they assume the worst case load for a 30 ft power out spooling.

I'll give Warn a call tomorrow and see if they can answer this.

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....How far are you really gona be winching? In normal use like...ten feet?
That's what I'm thinking for my applications, maybe 10 - 20 feet. Which again raises the question of having 100 ft on the winch to pull 10 feet.

While it may sound insignificant, every time you have to replace that 100 ft, and Warn says you should every year, 50 ft will cost about $100, 100 ft will cost about $200.

Of course if you do have to reach an anchor further away than 50 ft, then you have to buy and have an extension cable.
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Old 04-13-2014, 04:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by onetraveller View Post
Powering out often involves the winch working against the brake and can lead to much higher internal heat then powering in.
Mike
Sorry but this statement is incorrect.
On several occasions I have had to disassemble WARN winches to switch out a 'drum brake assembly' due to the wrong 'clockwise/counter clockwise' rotation pull configuration being ordered. The brake drum locks under tension & in one direction only, no more effort is required to winch one way over the other absent a load.

All electrical products release heat/energy in the course of use following the laws of thermodynamics. The more use, without the means to remove increasing temps (heat) such as a cooling fan, the more resistance builds in the electrical circuit (motor) which compounds the situation usually resulting in some type of mechanical failure. Somethings gotta give, so...
Free spooling when you can helps and is always a good idea.

Hope this info helps out..
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Old 04-13-2014, 06:21 PM
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Sorry but this statement is incorrect.
On several occasions I have had to disassemble WARN winches to switch out a 'drum brake assembly' due to the wrong 'clockwise/counter clockwise' rotation pull configuration being ordered. The brake drum locks under tension & in one direction only, no more effort is required to winch one way over the other absent a load.
Something isn't right some how. The manual clearly says power out no more than 30 feet and then the winch should get a 20 minute cool down before spooling in. Right after that in the very same warning it says you should disengage the drive and free spool the cable INSTEAD.

This strongly suggests they mean not to power out more than 30 ft even UNLOADED. Else why would they tell you to free spool a load instead???

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...All electrical products release heat/energy in the course of use following the laws of thermodynamics. The more use, without the means to remove increasing temps (heat) such as a cooling fan, the more resistance builds in the electrical circuit (motor) which compounds the situation usually resulting in some type of mechanical failure. Somethings gotta give, so...
IF the winch overheats powering out 30 feet of line, but it uses no more power than spooling in then why doesn't the same warning apply to spooling in?

There has to be something different about powering in and powering out under no load.

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...Free spooling when you can helps and is always a good idea.
True, but this is not about free spooling. The problem is why does Warn say we have to let the winch cool for 20 minutes after we power out 30 ft of line???
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Old 04-13-2014, 06:47 PM   #10
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Seems like ASE answered your query. And is my belief also, the brake is not bi-directional. And, as outlined by ASE as well, can be ordered in different push/pull configurations. In the config we have, the brake in engaged when powering out. It is the brake that will heat up and well as the motor windings, as it is working harder than a pull-in.

I have worked a winch until the thermo-couple stopped me. Then waited for it to cool down to continue.

Bob K.
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Old 04-13-2014, 08:06 PM   #11
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There is little internal resistance in an electrical motor. You are correct in that the brake only operates on one direction. It stops line from being pulled out of the winch. There is no resistance from the brake when you are winching in. So, for example, if you are winching in a vehicle and stop the motor, the line doesn't automatically pull back out. However, reversing the direction of the motor, doesn't release the tension. The brake is still engaged. Otherwise the tension would immediately release if you reversed direction. The only way to disengage the brake is to put the winch into its free-spool mode. Not something you want to try if the winch cable is under load.

The motor does generate a fair amount of heat. But winching out combines the heat of the motor with the heat of the brake. This is where synthetic winch lines can be severely damaged on winches not designed for them. A winch designed for synthetic lines puts the brake mechanism outside of the spool or includes other heat dissipation techniques so the heat doesn't reach the line.

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Old 04-13-2014, 08:07 PM   #12
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There is little internal resistance in an electrical motor. You are correct in that the brake only operates on one direction. It stops line from being pulled out of the winch. There is no resistance from the brake when you are winching in. So, for example, if you are winching in a vehicle and stop the motor, the line doesn't automatically pull back out. However, reversing the direction of the motor, doesn't release the tension. The brake is still engaged. Otherwise the tension would immediately release if you reversed direction. The only way to disengage the brake is to put the winch into its free-spool mode. Not something you want to try if the winch cable is under load.

The motor does generate a fair amount of heat. But winching out combines the heat of the motor with the heat of the brake. This is where synthetic winch lines can be severely damaged on winches not designed for them. A winch designed for synthetic lines puts the brake mechanism outside of the spool or includes other heat dissipation techniques so the heat doesn't reach the line.

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Old 04-14-2014, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by onetraveller View Post
There is little internal resistance in an electrical motor. You are correct in that the brake only operates on one direction. It stops line from being pulled out of the winch. There is no resistance from the brake when you are winching in. So, for example, if you are winching in a vehicle and stop the motor, the line doesn't automatically pull back out. However, reversing the direction of the motor, doesn't release the tension. The brake is still engaged. Otherwise the tension would immediately release if you reversed direction. The only way to disengage the brake is to put the winch into its free-spool mode. Not something you want to try if the winch cable is under load.
Yep, exactly the way I see it.

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...The motor does generate a fair amount of heat. But winching out combines the heat of the motor with the heat of the brake. This is where synthetic winch lines can be severely damaged on winches not designed for them. A winch designed for synthetic lines puts the brake mechanism outside of the spool or includes other heat dissipation techniques so the heat doesn't reach the line.
Mike
That's exactly what makes sense to me. I was just surprised to realize powering out has to over-ride the brake. What Mike stated is correct -it is the drum that heats up, not the motor.

At this point I did a search on the subject and found the following. This is a very good explanation and I believe it sums up the situation and explains why Warn warns about powering out. I took the liberty of emboldening salient points:

"What about heat from the winch drum?
Heat is generated in planetary winch drums (Warn laydown-style, Ramsey planetary winches, most Superwinches) only under "Power-Out" condition. This type of use drives the winch motor against the brake (note references by winch companies about "Automatic Load-Holding Brake"). This is similar to driving your vehicle with the parking brake engaged.
Doing so will generate heat if you were to use it extensively in this mode. Similar to driving your vehicle with the parking brake engaged, you can drive out of a parking space without causing problems, but if you drove for significant distance, you would quickly wear out the brake. The same is true for your winch. The "Power-Out" function should be used for relieving tension on the rope, not for extended distances, nor for lowering a load--4WD winches are not designed to be used as hoists. Our testing has shown that powering out for 10-20 feet is not a problem, but will cause excessive wear to the winch brake, so we recommend using the "Power-Out" to relieve tension only.
No winches currently made, if used correctly, will heat the drum on "Power-In" use. "

This explains the problem. The conclusion is - planetary winches (Jeep type winches):

1- are not designed for lowering a load
2- Powering out must override the brake and will over heat the spool and cause excessive wear on the brake.
3- power out should only be used very briefly to relieve tension
4- powering in should not heat the spool. Well, except for heat that may be transferred from the motor to the spool which should be very minimal since the thermal path from the motor to the spool has a fairly high thermal resistance.

In conclusion, the winch is not a lowering device; you need a hoist for that. Powering out under load or no load can quickly raise the temperature of the spool to temps that can damage syn rope and cause unnecessary wear on the brake. Powering in should not cause the spool to heat.
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Old 04-14-2014, 07:44 AM
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Here's another good resource I found about this. It's becoming very clear that the brake is engaged when powering out, whether under load or not.

Also in this article, the author states that the brake can only hold 50-60% of the rated capacity - that's good to know too!

The Reliability of Amsteel Blue Winch Ropes | Bill Burkes 4-Wheeling America
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Old 04-14-2014, 09:55 AM
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Update:
I called Warn and asked about this powering out heat build up warning. He unhesitatingly said it's because in powering out, the winch is working against the brake. Soooo...when power out the brake is engaged and braking.

To clarify, I asked if this warning applied to powering out when loaded or unloaded. He unhesitatingly said, it applies to either condition.

It is interesting that on their TigerShark winches SuperWinch locates the brake it in the gear box housing instead of the cable drum like just about all other winches, including the beloved Warn.

So the fact is, powering out does work against the brake and produces heat in the cable drum very quickly, and it increases wear and tear on the brake components.

Although, all this and it still doesn't address the duty cycle for powering in a load. The manual says something on the order of power in a reasonable amount (or something like that) and then stop and let the motor cool down.
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Old 04-15-2014, 06:21 AM   #16
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No one replaces their rope every year. Thats warn trying to rip you off yet again.
Why dont you just take your winch somewhere with a slight grade, and try it out. See how hot it gets.

Powering out is nearly useless 90% of the time. I could not imagine ever needing to power out 20 feet. You dont release the clutch under a load. But if its not under a load you just release the clutch and freespool it. Whats so hard about this?

Doesnt warn have a one year warranty on electrical? Abuse that winch.

Take good care of that winch rope though. I use steel line personally.
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Old 04-15-2014, 06:33 AM
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No one replaces their rope every year. Thats warn trying to rip you off yet again.
When did Warn rip me off the first time?

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...Why dont you just take your winch somewhere with a slight grade, and try it out. See how hot it gets.
I can't wait to do that. I've got some things in mind, but got to do a little research to find a place near home.

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...
Powering out is nearly useless 90% of the time. I could not imagine ever needing to power out 20 feet. You dont release the clutch under a load. But if its not under a load you just release the clutch and freespool it. Whats so hard about this?
There's nothing hard about it. It's simply a matter of understanding why Warn gives the warning about powering out. I didn't understand the warning and obviously I was not alone. Several posted that the winch brake is not engaged on power out and it is. So this was not about difficulty of anything; it was about finding out the whys of the warning.

Another point that came from this discussion is not to use the winch like a hoist, i.e. don't lower using the power out like one could with a hoist. I'd be willing to bet there are a large number of people that have lowered vehicles with their winch by powering out. We now know that is not a good thing to do.

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...Doesnt warn have a one year warranty on electrical? Abuse that winch.
Yes they do, but they don't warranty the battery or electrical system of the Jeep. Less current draw means less heat and less heat means longer life, longer pull times before the motor starts to overheat, and the longer it takes to drain the battery.

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...Take good care of that winch rope though. I use steel line personally.
Roger that!!!

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