What Size Fuse for ATV Winch – Expert Opinion

Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by ATVNotes

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Some people say when the ATV winch draws load to its capacity, the power inrush from the ATV battery is too high current for even the biggest size fuse to withstand the power surge. Thus, using an ATV fuse is synonymous with taking no protection against overheating and short-circuit. However, it’s an assumption that needs to be scientifically backed. So, you must be concerned about the safety of even the best quality ATV winches. 

Choosing the right size of fuse for your ATV winch is vital because using an undersized one can cause it to blow prematurely, while an oversized one may fail to protect against short circuits.

Choosing the correct fuse size for your ATV winch depends on several factors, including amperage rating, wire gauge, cable length, winch motor efficiency and design, and circuit capacity. Keeping all that factors in mind, typically, a 50-amp fuse is suitable for most standard-sized winches with a motor draw range of 2500-5000 pounds. However, heavier-duty winches may require larger fuses, up to 150 amps or more, up to 500-600A.

This article aims to answer how, why, and what regarding your ATV winch fuse.

Understanding Electrical Systems: Amps, Volts, and Watts

Understanding electrical systems is the prerequisite to understanding the importance of fuse meant for any equipment. Everyone should know three important terms – volts, amps, and watts -to understand the electrical system. Volts refer to the unit of measure for electrical potential difference or voltage in an electrical circuit. Amps, on the other hand, are the unit of measure for electric current flowing through a circuit. Lastly, watts refer to the total power used in a circuit.

Now let’s apply this knowledge to our context: what size fuse do you need for your ATV winch? The answer depends on various factors, such as the winch’s motor size and the length and thickness of its cables. However, most ATV winches require 50-amp fuses or larger ones since these machines typically have higher power requirements than smaller vehicles like motorcycles or snowmobiles.

Therefore, you must understand basic electrical terminology when working with any electronic device; otherwise, you risk overloading circuits or damaging equipment by using incorrect fuses or wiring components. 

inline winch fuse

How to Determine the Right ATV Winch Fuse?

The fuse protects your ATV’s electrical system from damage caused by overloading the circuit. If you use a fuse that is too small, it will blow frequently, and if you choose one that is too large, you risk damaging your equipment.

To determine the right size fuse for your ATV winch, you need to know the maximum amperage draw of your winch. This information can be found in your owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website. Once you have this number, multiply it by 1.25 to get a safe working load for your fuse.

For example, if your winch has a maximum amperage draw of 200 amps, you would need a 250-amp fuse (200 x 1.25 = 250). It’s important to note that fuses should never be bypassed or removed as they are critical safety features protecting yourself and other riders on the trail. 

Does Winch Load Influence its Fuse Size? 

In general, the fuse size of a winch is determined by the maximum amperage that the winch motor can draw under normal operating conditions. The manufacturer typically specifies this and can vary depending on the winch’s specific model, design, and manufacture. 

Yes, there is a correlation between the amperage draw and the fuse size of a winch. They are directly proportional. So, when the winch is under full load, it necessarily means that it will require a larger fuse size. Other factors, such as motor efficiency and design, also come into play when determining the appropriate fuse size for a winch.

An ATV winch of 2500 lbs capacity can stay protected against overheating or short circuits with a 20A fuse while not loaded, but it will require the protection of a 150A fuse size when fully loaded. 

  2500 Lbs ATV Winch Unloaded Fully Loaded
Required Fuse Size 20A 150A

That said, it is not a direct influence. So, while determining the correct fuse size for your specific winch model, base it on its amperage draw rather than solely relying on its load capacity. 

Check Fuses Regularly and Replacing Faulty fuses

It is important to regularly check and replace fuses in your ATV winch for safety reasons. If a fuse blows, it means that something went wrong with the circuit, so it’s essential to investigate and fix the problem before replacing the fuse. Ignoring blown fuses can lead to more severe problems down the line.

When replacing a fuse, you need to consider the amperage rating of the winch. Choosing an incorrect size fuse can either blow too quickly or not provide enough protection for your electrical system. Always consult your owner’s manual or consult with an expert when selecting fuses for any equipment, including ATV winches. This will help ensure optimal performance from your winch while always staying safe. 

Fuse vs. Circuit Breaker: Which one for ATV Winch? 

Both options protect against electrical overloads and can prevent damage to your ATV’s electrical system. A fuse is a simple device that contains a metal wire that melts when excessive current flows through it, breaking the circuit and stopping the flow of electricity. On the other hand, a circuit breaker is an automatic switch that trips when it detects an overload or short circuit, interrupting the current flow.

One advantage of using fuses is their affordability and availability. Fuses are relatively inexpensive and can be easily found at most automotive stores. Additionally, they are straightforward to install and replace if needed. However, one drawback of using fuses is that they need to be physically replaced each time they blow out due to an overload or short circuit.

In contrast, circuit breakers offer convenience in resetting after tripping without requiring physical replacement like fuses do. This makes them more user-friendly as you don’t have to buy new ones constantly. 

Furthermore, modern ATV winches often come with built-in thermal protection mechanisms designed specifically for use with circuit breakers. Nonetheless, compared to fuses, circuit breakers tend to be more expensive initially and may require professional installation in some cases due to their complex nature. 


What gauge wire for an ATV winch?

The recommended gauge wire for an ATV winch depends on the winch’s capacity and the distance from the battery. A general rule of thumb is to use a 6-gauge wire if the winch capacity is less than 2,000 pounds and within 4 feet of the battery. For a winch with a capacity between 2,000 and 3,500 pounds or located over 4 feet from the battery, an upgraded 4-gauge wire is recommended.

Using thicker wires can help reduce long-run voltage drops and prevent damage to your ATV’s electrical system and winch motor. Additional relays or circuit breakers may also be necessary, depending on your specific setup.

It is always best to consult your ATV manufacturer’s guidelines or seek advice from an experienced technician when wiring an ATV winch properly. 

What is a standard ATV winch circuit breaker size?

An ATV winch’s standard circuit breaker size varies based on the model and manufacturer.

The most common circuit breaker size used in ATV winches is 50 amps. However, depending on their power consumption and voltage rating, some models may require a larger or smaller circuit breaker. It’s important to check the specifications of your specific ATV winch before purchasing a replacement circuit breaker.

In addition to considering the standard size of a circuit breaker, it’s vital to ensure that you use a high-quality product from a reputable brand. A faulty or low-quality circuit breaker can compromise your safety while operating the ATV winch, leading to potential accidents or equipment damage.

What size is for Warn winch fuse?

The size of the fuse required for a Warn winch depends on the model and capacity of the winch. It is important to consult the owner’s manual or contact Warn directly to determine the appropriate fuse size for your winch.

Choosing the wrong size fuse can result in excessive heat, which can cause melting or even a fire. It is also essential to ensure that only high-quality fuses are used with your Warn winch. Using low-quality fuses can result in the frequent blowing of the fuse, ultimately leading to unnecessary repair costs and downtime for your winch.

What size ATV winch requires a 500 amp fuse?

The size of a winch typically refers to its pulling capacity, which can range from 2,000 lbs up to 5,500 lbs or more. However, the size of a winch also affects its electrical draw and fuse requirements.

For an ATV winch that requires a 500 amp fuse, the winch likely has a high pulling capacity requiring a higher amperage draw of 400 amps. Thus, (400*1.25) = 500 amp fuse is necessary to protect the electrical system of that ATV from overloading or short-circuiting due to excessive current draw. Presumably, those ATV winches must have the highest load capacity, like – 8000-12000 lbs, and the highest amp drawing batteries power them.

Wrap Up

To determine what size fuse for your ATV winch, you must consider several factors mentioned at the outset. Taking winch amp drawing to be the key consideration, it is clear to you by now that most ATV winches require a minimum 50-amp fuse up to 150 amps depending on their power rating.

However, it’s always best to check with your manufacturer or consult an expert when installing or replacing your ATV winch system fuses.

Whatever way you follow, the main focus should be integrating a properly sized fuse into an ATV winch. And always use high-quality fuses from reputable brands and replace them immediately if they blow out unexpectedly during operation. Remember, proper maintenance of your ATV winch’s electrical system will extend its lifespan and prevent costly repairs down the road and stand by you in the most difficult ATV trails.

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