What Is The Difference Between A Relay And A Solenoid?


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Taylor Edgar answered
A relay and a solenoid do two very different jobs.

A relay is in essence a switch with two positions, on and off. A solenoid, meanwhile, enables mechanical components to physically move and change position, for example, a starter motor engaging a flywheel.

Relays and solenoids are both controlled by electromagnetism. In a relay, electromagnetism enables a small electrical current to control a much larger current and in a solenoid, to close electrical contacts, for instance.

It may be useful here to explain what electromagnetism actually is. When electrical current flows through a wire or some other conductor, an electromagnetic field is produced. When the current stops flowing, the electromagnetic field stops too. By harnessing this property, it is possible to build switches to do an array of sophisticated tasks.

The electromagnetic field is generally weak until until the conductor is wrapped around an iron core. When electrical current flows now, it induces electromagnetism in the core. The strength of the electromagnetic field in the core is determined by the number of times the wire is wrapped around the core. The more windings, the greater the field that is produced in the core.

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