Winch Contactor vs. Solenoid:- Which one to Choose in 2023

Let’s check Winch Contactor vs. Solenoid in this article.

If you believe a Winch Contactor and a starter solenoid are the same, you are mistaken. 

Yes, there are some similarities between them, such as the fact that they both use electromagnetism and have coil winding, but that does not mean they are the same. 

Understanding the difference is critical, especially for off-roaders who own quality winches. The mechanical parts of the winch are extremely tough and durable, so they don’t break frequently. 

Electrical components, on the other hand, are more prone to failure. They can become wet or eroded if they are exposed to moisture. The winch contactor or solenoid is one of the most vulnerable parts.

When these electrical components fail, a replacement or repair is required. 

If you ever need a replacement for your winch, you will need to decide which one will you get, a solenoid or a Contactor? 

This article will explain the differences between a winch contactor and a solenoid by comparing Winch Contactor vs. Solenoid. 

Let us begin this article by defining the terms Contactor and solenoid.

Also check: Best winch solenoid

What is a winch Solenoid?

winch Solenoid

Solenoids are designed to switch a larger current remotely. Like the smaller electromechanical cube relays, a coil generates a magnetic field when electricity is passed through it, effectively opening or closing the circuit.

What is a winch Contactor?

winch Contactor

Contactors are used in a high voltage DC power system to support higher current loads, typically 100 to 600 amps. It is typically a lightweight, cost-effective, and safe solution for DC voltage.

Contactors are commonly used in buses, emergency vehicles, hybrid/electric vehicles, and heavy truck electric motors that require a lot of power to move something efficiently.

winch Contactors vs Solenoids

In general, Contactors and solenoids are the switches that turn your winch on and off. 

Aside from that, you’ll have to hotwire your winch to get it to turn on, and even then, you won’t be able to control it properly. 

You will notice that your winch is randomly rotating its drum, which is not normal. However, before delving into these two, you should have a firm grasp of a few concepts. 

You must be familiar with relays, which are a type of switch. Then you’ll have a better understanding of winch contactors and solenoids.

What exactly is Relay?

The Relay is a type of electromechanical switch that is widely used. This type of switch is found in automobiles. A relay’s job is to reduce the electrical current by 40 to 100 amps to control a high-powered circuit. 

A relay can also control several high-powered circuits with a single electrical signal. 

Nowadays, most car owners use relay switches to activate their vehicles’ fan motors, headlights, blower motors, and auxiliary lamps.

A relay switch can be found in various designs, ranging from electromagnetic relays to solid-state designs. 

The electromagnetic Relay makes use of a magnet to allow current flow, whereas solid-state designs make use of semiconductors to allow electric currents to flow.

Also check: Starter Relay Vs. Solenoid

Winch Contactor vs. Solenoid: Which one to choose?

When it comes to capabilities, the contractors come in the first place. The solenoids and relays are positioned in the second and third positions, respectively. 

The contractor can handle heavy-duty jobs, but they are not always required. 

Without it, the Contactors are the most expensive of the three options. In contrast, solenoids and relays are both inexpensive and inexpensive.

You must now decide which one you require. If you have a heavy-duty winch, you should use a Contactor. Otherwise, if your winch is not heavy-duty, a solenoid will suffice.

In terms of capabilities, relays are at the list’s bottom, solenoids in the middle, and Contactors at the top. Contactors can certainly handle the toughest jobs, but there are times when you don’t need that much power. 

Furthermore, Contactors are the heaviest and most expensive of the three options. Relays and solenoids, on the other hand, are portable and inexpensive.

Choose which one you require for the job. If you already have a heavy-duty winch, go with the Contactor. On the other hand, go with that option if a solenoid is sufficient.


However, there is no clear winner in the battle of which of the two options is better. 

In the end, you can decide according to their requirements. Both have almost similar characteristics, except that one is more heavy-duty than the other.

We will always consider using contractors instead of other options for heavy use or something that requires more power. On the other hand, we would always pick solenoids with lighter loads.

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As an avid off-road enthusiast, I know firsthand the importance of having a reliable winch. That's why I created WinchAdvice – to help fellow off-roaders like myself make informed decisions when selecting their next winch. So whether you're an experienced pro or a beginner just starting out, my website offers valuable advice and guidance on all things winching.