What is the Difference Between Contactors and Solenoids?

Winches are common mechanical devices that may be found on the back of a truck or in an industrial setting, and they are used to pull in and let out rope through the use of a spool and hand crank. Despite being designed to be very rigorous and reliable, winches will eventually reach the end of their service life as electrical or mechanical failure occurs. While mechanical failure is a possibility, it is much more unlikely than electrical failure. Contactors and solenoids are two components that may be found within a winch assembly, and both are known for being more vulnerable to failure when faced with stress or damage. In this blog, we will discuss the difference between contactors and solenoids, allowing you to better determine what is needed for your various operations as winches may only take one or the other.

In general, a solenoid can be understood as a type of relay switch that is designed to handle a heavy current ranging between 80 and 200 amps. With the presence of a coil, a magnetic field will begin to generate as current is induced into the device. This magnetic field then allows for the solenoid to open and close a circuit as needed. When a solenoid is installed within a winch assembly, it will perform its typical duties as a switch, ensuring that the winch is supplied with current from a battery while avoiding any damage. To perform forward and reverse operations, winches will generally have two isolated solenoids.

Contactors are also a main relay switch, and winches rely on them when a large current load ranging from 100 to 600 amps is required. While contactors are relatively inexpensive, their wide voltage ratings make them a very effective choice for many applications and assemblies. Across industries, contactors can be found in heavy-duty trucks, emergency vehicles, light rail applications, mining equipment, industrial tools, and so much more. With voltage ratings ranging from 12V to 12,000V DC, contractors are the component of choice when an application calls for an amount of current that far exceeds the amount a typical relay or solenoid could handle.

With their basic capabilities, the choice will often come down to the demands of a particular application. While solenoids are useful for their low price point and effectiveness in general applications, they are not as suitable for more intensive jobs and demands. As contactors are also the most expensive between the two, price can also have a major effect on the decision. Nevertheless, the two components are not always interchangeable, as an application calling for a contractor will not be able to take advantage of a solenoid due to the immense loss of performance that it will face.

When your contactor or solenoid fails and you require a replacement, it is important that you rely on a trustworthy source for all your purchasing needs. Luckily for you, Purchasing Management 360 is a premier platform with over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find components that are ready for purchase at any time. With our purchasing power and market expertise, we can save customers time and money on all their project requirements. If you happen to be facing a time constraint, we utilize our supply chain network to expedite the shipping process for domestic and international orders alike. Take the time to peruse our offerings as you see fit, and our team is always ready to assist you through the purchasing process however necessary. Give us a call or email today and see how Purchasing Management 360 can serve as your strategic sourcing partner for all your operational needs. 


April 11, 2022

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