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Expert Shopper Camping & Outdoors

Best electric anchor winch

Which electric anchor winch is best?

Hauling an anchor up manually is nobody’s idea of fun. An electric anchor winch not only makes the job a lot easier, it’s safer too, with the line neatly stored away so there’s no trip hazard.

We’ve been looking at a range of different models and have included a few recommendations at the end, so we can help you choose the best for your boat. Our number-one choice is the Minn Kota 1810125 DeckHand 25 Electric Anchor Winch, a top-quality unit that offers an unbeatable combination of high performance and ease of use.

What to know before you buy an electric anchor winch

The headline feature with any anchor winch is its weight capacity, and the model name usually gives you a pretty good idea of what that is. Our top pick, for example, is the Deckhand 40 — and its maximum capacity is a 40-pound anchor.

A little caution is required however, because occasionally that description can be slightly misleading. Manufacturers might call a particular model a 30, but when you look at the detail they actually recommend an anchor of 20 to 25 pounds. It’s always safer to go with the maker’s suggestion.

The line capacity is another important consideration. As a general rule for small to medium-sized craft, you should have three times as much line as the depth of water you’re anchored in. That allows for drift and a healthy margin for safety. Many of these electric anchor winches hold 100 feet of line, limiting maximum depth to 33 feet.

Controls don’t need to be complicated, but some models offer an auto release as well as normal up and down. With this feature, the anchor will deploy until it touches the bottom, reel out a few more yards until the anchor is secure, then stop automatically. It may also incorporate an anti-drag, so rather than the water’s current causing the boat to pull on the anchor, the winch will release a little more line.

Basic models have the switch mounted on the motor housing, but it may be possible to mount an additional switch unit at a second position — in the cockpit, for example. Remote control is another option. Check carefully here, because not all are fully remote / wireless. Some are cable operated.

Physical size will also be a consideration, as will mounting options. Many electric anchor winches can have the davit (the line guide) remote from the motor and reel, giving added flexibility. It’s also nice to be able to capture the anchor right up by the davit to prevent it swinging about and causing damage to the hull.

It’s not a common occurrence, but if an anchor jams there’s a danger that the motor might get overloaded and burn out. Some incorporate a circuit breaker that will trip to prevent this. Better models reset automatically.

Finally, if you’re sailing at sea, check that the winch is OK for saltwater. Most are — with switch and motor units sealed to protect them — but not all.

How much you can expect to spend on an electric anchor winch

Although you might find a cheap electric anchor winch for less, expect to pay around $120 for a good-quality 25-pound model. Prices rise roughly in line with capacity, with 40-pound winches at around $250. Remote control is often not included and can add another $100 or so.

Electric anchor winch FAQ

Q. Can I install an electric anchor winch myself?

A. They aren’t very complicated. You need to drill holes to fit the winch to the deck, and wire it to the boat’s 12-volt system or a separate battery. The instructions provided do come in for some criticism, but popular video sites offer useful advice.

Q. Is an electric anchor winch the same as a windlass?

A. No, although they both raise and lower the anchor. A winch generally uses nylon rope or steel cable that is wound around an enclosed reel. A windlass is generally a heavier-duty device, uses chain, and passes it off to a container below deck.

What are the best electric anchor winches to buy?

Top electric anchor winch

Minn Kota 1810125 DeckHand 25 Electric Anchor Winch

What you should know: Powerful, high-quality model with versatile davit mounting.

What you'll love: Well built and usually very dependable. Horizontal-davit option prevents anchor swing. Easy to install.

What you should consider: A small number of breakdowns have been reported.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top electric anchor winch for the money

Trac Outdoors’ Fisherman 25 Electric Anchor Winch

What you should know: Good budget choice is very popular for lightweight craft.

What you'll love: A compact, lightweight winch yet still holds 100 feet of line. Remote-davit option. Motor protected by circuit breaker. Great value. Two-year warranty.

What you should consider: A few reliability problems with the up/down switch.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Trac Outdoors’ Angler 30 Electric Anchor Winch

What you should know: Reliable unit includes auto deploy at a competitive price.

What you'll love: Easy to fit with flexible positioning and remote davit if required. Simple operation. Circuit breaker prevents overload. Includes wireless remote.

What you should consider: Occasional reports of tangles. Not full 30-pound capacity.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Bob Beacham writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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