Winches are designed to have relatively short duty cycles. A winch duty cycle is the ratio of the length of time a winch is used to pull a load vs. the length of time the winch needs to “Rest” (Cool Off) before being used again. Winch manuals recommend that a winch only be used continuously for 3 to 5 minutes then allowed to cool for 30 to 45 minutes before being used again. Consumer winches don’t publish a “Duty Cycle” but it is approx. 10- 15% Duty Cycle.
Most Consumer winches have a brake inside the drum that holds the Load when not pulling or when lowering the load. If you play out the cable using the motor, the motor will have to overcome the brake and thus wear the brake as well as heat up the drum. The heat generated can damage synthetic line. You should always put the winch in Free Spool to run out cable/rope to hook up to the load.