Power -vs- Manual Winch

February 1, 20151

Many consider a powered winch to be an upgrade. That is, until, they are trying to set up camp 2 hours from civilization, the electric winch won’t work, and the hand crank requires about 45 minutes of effort. Learn why a manual winch lift system might be better for your needs.

A power winch jack is geared to such a low torque for the battery-powered motor to operate that it requires a lot of RPMs to lift a popup camper roof. This all happens very fast when electrically powered, but very slow when hand powered in case of battery or electric motor failure.

WARNING: Hand cranking your powered winch can take 30 – 45 minutes to go up, and again to bring it down.

A manual winch is just as quick to raise up and down. It’s also quite easy to hand operate, as shown in the video above where I’m doing so with one hand most of the time.

For our popup camper, I choose the manual option to keep things simple and more guaranteed to operate.

Extra Credit

  • Those with a manual winch should always carry an extra crank handle in case your original gets lost or left at home.
  • If you have a powered winch roof lift system, obtain an adapter from your dealer to operate the manual crank (during electrical failure) with the same battery powered drill used for raising/lowering the stabilization jacks.

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I've been camping regularly since I was a kid, from quick Cub/Boy Scout trips to week-long backpacking trips and everything else in-between. We got a popup camper when our kids were 1 and 3 years old to enjoy more time outdoors together alongside a few conveniences like heat and running water. Since then, we've spent over 75 nights together as a family in our popup camper. I've learned a lot about the intricacies of a popup tent camper during this time and love to share those lessons here for the benefit of others.

One comment

  • Grant

    August 12, 2020 at 12:27 am

    Did you replace the electric with a manual crank? Do you have any info on doing this? I can’t find much info on this, but I don’t trust the electric winch on the used pop up I bought.

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