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Winch Contactor vs Solenoid

There are times when you are using a winch and would experience some technical issues or difficulties. This could be a cause of numerous things. It could be due to electrical failure, mechanical failure or maybe it could be just because it is very old already. These reasons is inevitable. However, most often than not, when you experience issues, these could be most likely be due to an electrical issue.

Mechanical parts of a winch are very durable and is unlikely to be broken easily. Electrical components on the other hand are more likely to experience issues. For one, the wires and other electrical parts could get exposed, wet and even get corroded. Moreover, keep in mind that when there is even a slight damage to your electrical circuit, everything could go haywire. Hence, it is very important that you take care of your winch and learn what are the parts that are vulnerable. Example, one of the most vulnerable parts of a winch are contactor and solenoid.

When your contactor or solenoid get damaged, it is important that you replace it or fix it immediately. If you need to replace it, we understand that it could get confusing on which you should get exactly, would you need a solenoid or a contactor? Do not worry as through this article, we shall distinguish the difference between a solenoid and a contactor and discuss detailed information about the two.

Should I Even Consider These Questions?

What if I get any of the two components? Won’t it negatively affect my winch?

If you get a solenoid instead of a contactor for your winch it could limit your winch’s capabilities. In fact, you could be limiting your winch by 90 percent which makes it very inefficient. This means, it could cost you a lot if you do not choose the right part and if you do not choose which is best for your winch. Hence, to know the difference between solenoid and contactor, it is important to know the differences and their roles.

Contactors or Solenoids?

Contactors and solenoids are the switches of your winch. This means, without them, you will have to hotwire your winch just to turn it on. You will not also be able to operate your winch properly. In fact, your winch could just keep rotating the drum uncontrollably which could be very bad for your winch.

What is a Relay?

A relay is a common electro mechanical switch which is often used in vehicles. Just as its name indicates, it relays low electrical current which is about 40 to 100 amps. In other words, it controls high powered circuit.

Modern cars use relay switches for them to be able to use their headlights, fan motors, auxiliary lamps and blower motors.

Relays have different designs and types and the most popular is the electromagnetic relay (uses magnet).

Different configurations of relay switches

  • Mini iSO relays – general purpose type of switch. It is very basic and it could fit many vehicle electrical applications like starting, horn, lighting, cooling, heating and many more.
  • Micro Relays – it is a plug-in type of design. It is considered as a universal standard pattern for electrical terminals.
  • Maxi Relays – It is the bigger and better version of micro relays. It is recommended for heavy duty applications. It could be used for cooling fans, fuel control, engine management and car alarms.
  • ISO 280 Mini, Ultra and Micro Relays – This type is smaller and compact version of the standard relay. It follows ISO 280 footprint pin size and design. This could be used in ATM fuse boxes and power distribution.

What is a Solenoid?

Solenoids are a type of relay switch. It is used for heavy current which varies from 80 to 200 amps. It is very different from smaller electro mechanical relays which use coil to generate magnetic field. It opens and closes circuits.

Solenoids on the other hand is similar. It is used as a switch for your winch. They supply the current that your winch needs which ensures that it prevents damage to your motor. Once you turn on your winch and operate it, the current will flow to your solenoid from the battery. Once it is turned on, the current will then travel to the engine through the help of the solenoid as well. Winches often have two isolated solenoids. One for forward and the other one for reversing.

What is a Contactor?

A contactor on the other hand is your main relay switch. The current load that it handles varies from 100 to 600amps. It often has a voltage rating which could handle and sustain 12V DC up to 12000V DC.

Contactors are affordable. In fact, they are considered as cheap and effective switch. They could be used for heavy duty trucks, tools, transports, electric/hybrid cars, emergency vehicles, boats, light rail, mining and different frameworks.

Which One Should You Pick?

If we are talking about capabilities, there are a lot of relays that are at low end. It is then followed by solenoids then by contactors which are on the top end. Contactors have the ability to handle heavy jobs and though that is the case, you will have to ask yourself if you would need that much power. Keep in mind that contactors are heavy and are the most expensive.

Relays and solenoids on the other hand are portable and more affordable. If you are choosing one for a certain job, consider what type of job you are going to do. If you are into heavy duty type of activities then the right one for you would be contactor. If you are going to do mostly light duty type of activities, then solenoid is good option for you.

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