A winch system consists of a winch, winch control panel and the winch mounts. Typically purchased as a package, a winch system provides the buyer with all of the items necessary to complete a winch installation on a vehicle. Another attribute of a winch system is the winch is not only easier to install, but it is also ready to use as soon as the installation is complete because all of the necessary hooks, straps and accessories are provided in the kit. While a complete system is commonly more expensive initially than buying only the winch, the purchase of the system ensures that the winch is complete and ready to use when installed.
The consumer can typically choose between a permanent or portable mount winch system, depending on the individual needs and intended use of the winch. The main difference between the two winch system packages is the type of mounting bracket used. The permanent mount kit will commonly attach the winch to a vehicle's chassis or frame, while a portable winch will commonly use a mount intended to fit into a receiver hitch on either end of the vehicle. It is also common for a portable winch to be attached to a tree, rock or other fixed object through the use of a strap, cable or chain.
Alternative winch system designs include a series of winches on a single vehicle. This type of winch system is found on recovery vehicles used for clearing accident scenes, as well as military vehicles and salvage vehicles. Usually consisting of a high- and low-speed winch, the winch system can be used for righting rolled vehicles by attaching the two winch cables to different sections or areas of the vehicle and pulling it in a common direction to create the proper amount of pulling force required without damaging the vehicle.
Some types of fishing boats use a specially designed system to pull different ends of a fishing net closed, thereby encircling the fish caught inside the net. Proper operation of this type of system is critical in the success of the boat in trapping fish before they can escape. The winches must be both strong and fast to pull the net closed in a rapid manner. Sometimes, the winch system is not functioning as it should, causing the net to close slowly. When this occurs, the fish can escape the slow-closing net, which can require the boat and crew to remain on the water longer in order to catch a designated amount of fish.