Winch Contactor vs Solenoid

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Last Updated on June 27, 2022

Assume you need a solenoid or a contactor for your winch due to an electrical breakdown. Which one will you select? Are you confused? Because both are incredibly effective when used in cooperation with the winch. 

Here comes our article to help you understand contactors and solenoids with details. After reading this, you can make your own decision based on the circumstances.  

We will dig into contactor and solenoid but first, we have to know about another switch called Relay.




The electromechanical device or switch in a vehicle for operating an elevated circuit with a low-power signal is called the relay. It is used in vehicles, like for activating the vehicle’s headlights, fan motors, etc. 

This one signal can also operate multiple circuits. A relay switch can be found in a variety of sizes, designs, ranging from electromagnetic relays to sturdy models. Such as Micro Relays, Mini ISO relays, Maxi relays, ISO 280 mini, Ultra, etc.

Micro Relays

Micro relays are made up of micro-sized plug-in designs that are linked to a standard quality pattern. It can only handle 35 amps of electricity for rated switching and is primarily used in the automobile sector.

Mini ISO Relays

Mini relays are utilized in cars for everything from starting to lights or heating and cooling.

Maxi Relays

Maxi relays are frequently referred to as “power mini relays.” It is used in a variety of applications such as automobile alarms, CPU coolers, power generation, engine control, gasoline pumps, and compressor fan applications. It can handle up to 80 amps and may be used for an extended amount of time.

ISO 280 Mini, Ultra, and Micro Relays

“ISO 280 Mini, Ultra, and Micro Relays” is a merged form of all of the relays we’ve already stated. These relays are employed as distribution carriers and units, as well as in ATM fuse boxes. 

The ISO 280 layout is extensively utilized for the pin size, as well as to improve performance by giving rugged and similar setups.

What is a Winch Contactor?

A contactor is the primary relay switch for dealing with a high-current load that typically ranges from 100 to 600 amps, having a voltage rate from 12V DC (Direct Current) to 12000V DC, and using this sort of switch is both inexpensive and efficient. Wnch contactor is the same thing. 

Contractors are commonly used in public transport, emergency vehicles, hybrid/electric vehicles, and heavily loaded truck electric motors that demand a lot of power to relocate stuff quickly and effectively.

What is a Winch Solenoid?

A solenoid is another sort of relay switch but is specifically manufactured to remotely switch higher currents ranging from 80 to 200 amps. These relays, contrary to mini electromechanical relays, use a coil to produce a magnetic field when a current passes through. 

When this happens, it opens or closes a circuit. When it comes to the winch solenoid, the operating requirements are the same because the solenoid also functions as a switch.

The solenoid is critical in providing precise current to your winch. As a result, it keeps your winch motor from getting damaged.

Some winches have two solenoids, while others have four. Permanent magnet winches typically have two solenoid configurations. They are less powerful, less reliable, and less expensive.

Four solenoid configurations are more powerful, dependable, and lightweight.

It’s most commonly found in series-wound winches. If you have the money, go with a winch that has four solenoids.

Winch Contactor vs Solenoid vs Relay: Which one to pick?

In terms of capabilities, relays are at the bottom of the capacities scale, followed by solenoids in the center, and finally contactors at the top. Contactors can easily accommodate the toughest jobs, but there are times when you don’t need much power. 

Besides that, contractors are the heaviest and priciest of the possible alternatives. In contrast, solenoids are inexpensive. You have to consider what one you want to pick by just simply thinking about what job you want to be done with them, it depends on the work you need them for.

If you need something for a heavy-duty winch, you should go for a contactor, if not, the solenoid is the answer.

You also have to consider the space of your car hood, as having a contactor that does not fit will be a waste of money, so make sure it fits first.

In Summary

There is no clear winner in the battle of which of the two options is superior. At the end of the day, it is determined by the user’s requirements.

Except for the heavy-duty handling feature, the contactor and solenoid have nearly identical characteristics. Excluding the heavy-duty handling feature, the contactor and solenoid have nearly identical characteristics.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Why does a winch need a solenoid?

A winch solenoid ensures winch safety by sealing the exterior leakage and managing the internal leaks.

2.  Does a winch draw more battery?

Your battery will not be drained by a winch. If it consumes more volts than your battery can take, it has the potential to deplete the battery. If you want to use your winch regularly, you should think about adding a second battery.

3. Is the contactor a relay?

A contactor is a sort of relay that is used to turn an electrical circuit on or off. They are most typically utilized with electric motors and illumination.

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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