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HomeTips & GuidesSolenoid Wire – How to Choose the Right One and Steps to Install It

Solenoid Wire – How to Choose the Right One and Steps to Install It

About Solenoid Wire: While you may not know, a solenoid wire performs a key role in working your car and home electronics. 

As logic would have it, selecting the right solenoid wire and wiring is vital for your engine’s safety and performance. 

Here, we discuss the solenoid wire, including what it is, its working principles, plus choosing considerations and installation procedures.

A starter solenoid parts

What is a Solenoid Wire?

A solenoid wire is a cable you use to connect a solenoid to power or control it. A solenoid refers to an electromechanical gadget you use to convert electrical energy into motion. 

It features a wire coil wound around an iron core and becomes an electromagnet when you pass an electric current. 

In addition, it also comes with an iron or steel housing to concentrate the magnetism around the coil. 

The magnetic field from the electromagnet reacts with the core, resulting in circular or linear motion based on your solenoid design. 

Solenoid wires are found in various electronics, including car transmissions, starters, door and electric locks, valves, and actuators.

Two solenoid coils

Two solenoid coils

How Does a Solenoid Work?

Typically, your solenoid works using the available laws of magnets and electromagnets. One of the laws is that you can create a magnetic field when you pass a current through a coil. 

The other magnetic principle they use is that unlike magnetic poles attract while like ones repel. Remember, we established that you make a solenoid by wounding an insulated wire around a hollow metallic conductor. 

We also said that passing an electric current around this coil creates a magnetic field. Something else you should know is that the magnetic pole you create depends on the direction of the current. 

This pole can be either south or north, and its strength depends on the magnitude of your current. 

Inside your solenoid, it features armatures/plungers, which are movable components of ferromagnets like iron or steel. 

When you power your solenoid, the current creates an electromagnetic field interacting with the armatures. 

The interaction I mentioned can be either repulsion or attraction, depending on the magnetic pole you created. 

For example, when the coil attracts the armature, you create a movement toward the center of the solenoid. 

When it repels, you move in the opposite direction, away from the solenoid center. 

This continuous repelling and attracting, is the one that creates mechanical motion you use in various electronic systems.

A car starter solenoid

What Are the Key Characteristics of Solenoid Wires?

As you may expect, solenoids feature several traits that make them useful in their applications.

  • For starters, they generate a strong magnetic field in close loops, making them suitable for your car’s electromagnetic induction. 
  • Again, you can control and adjust the strength of your magnet by just controlling the current size entering the coil. 
  • Another important trait is that its directional magnetic fields allow you to use them in linear motion devices. 
  • Additionally, basic solenoids are not polarity sensitive, meaning when you apply the current in any direction, it functions the same. 
  • Finally, solenoids feature a duty cycle, meaning you can only power them for a certain duration before they become heated. The duty cycle is on the solenoid, and it tells you how long you can power the device and how long you should keep it off before powering again.

What Types of Solenoid Wires Are There and Their Applicable Scenarios?

As you may expect, many types of solenoid coils depend on usage, construction, and design. I will discuss the main five here, but remember they all use the same working principle.

AC Laminated Solenoid Coils

As the name suggests, these solenoids use an AC power source to provide high-current input to the coil. 

They also feature a thin lamination to minimize current loss, concentrating it and ensuring power efficiency. 

For this reason, they can be found in high-first-stroke current input devices like printers, cars, and medical equipment.

DC C Frame Selenoid Coils

These solenoid coils are the simplest plus cost-effective coils you will find. However, they are very effective, featuring a C fame and open coil to provide linear motion. 

You may expect these in push or pull devices like coin counters, scanners, and circuit breakers.

Linear Solenoids Coils

You can also call them linear electromechanical actuators(LEMA) and pass current through them for continuous powering. 

You can also design them as solenoids that change the armature position depending on the current input. 

And You can expect to find them in electrical locks and ignition systems since the plunger moves in line when you power the coil.

Rotary Solenoid Coils

These use three ball bearings to convert linear motion to rotary motion. When you power them, they produce rotary or angular motion in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. 

They are the most robust solenoids on the market and are hence used in lasers, shutters, and other industrial applications.

DC D Frame Solenoid Coils

The above solenoid coil type features a D frame enclosure on both sides. The design provides more power for high-force output and minimal environmental interferences. 

You can expect these coils in ATMs, body analyzers, gas equipment, and gaming machines.

A collection of solenoid coils

A collection of solenoid coils

How to Make a Solenoid Wire

Now that you know the types of solenoid coils we have, let’s discuss the steps for making solenoids.

Select wire type

Before anything, you must choose the wire type to use based on the solenoid’s type and application. 

In my experience, the most common is copper, but gauges (diameter) vary depending on the coil you intend to design.

 Note the thinner the wire, the higher the resistance which can reduce coil efficiency and may result in burning. 

Here, we have several classes of copper wires such as F, H, and N all with different properties. 

Coil Bobbin

From the wire type, you need to select the bobbin that holds and secures your coil lead wires place. In addition, it locates and guides the movement of solenoid components while controlling its strokes.

You want a durable bobbin with low friction to allow seamless coil movement. Lastly, this device must have connectors to supply your coil with power.


Here, you determine the winding number depending on your wire type and diameter, inductance value, and current requirements. The more times you wind, the bigger the electromagnetic field, hence the stronger the solenoid.

An already wound coil

An already wound coil

Coil Core

You will then need a core made from a ferromagnet to increase the magnet’s strength. While your solenoid can function without a core (air core), the core increases strength to 100+ times.

Note that air cores like plastic and glass don’t increase magnetism but are better for high-frequency applications. Some of the ferromagnets to use for cores include pure iron, iron alloy, ferroaluminium, ferronickel, and ferro-cobalt.

Coil Protection

You can then protect your coil by wrapping it using paper or tape. The other method of protection is encapsulating, which involves embedding your coil in solid, non-porous material.

DIN Connectors

Finally, you must use standard DIN connectors to facilitate your coil’s receiving of power and data. They should have a male connector that connects to the female on the system you want the solenoid on.

How to Determine Which Solenoid Wire Best Suits You

Before buying any solenoid, I recommend checking the factors below to determine if they suit you.

  • Size: First, examine your installation space and determine whether the solenoid height and length will fit.
  • Motion direction: As you may know, solenoids offer rotary, push, or pull motion; hence, determine the one you need.
  • Operating stroke: Note that a longer solenoid provides longer strokes, while the vice versa is true for a shorter solenoid. For this reason, ensure you know the mechanical force you require to determine which solenoid to buy.
  • Actuation force: Actuation is typically the smallest force your solenoid requires to achieve its maximum stroke. Therefore, you must estimate the force you require for your application before any purchase.
  • Duty cycle: Also, estimate the time your solenoid can be on without overheating and the time you must wait before powering it again. To know the solenoid’s cycle, you need just estimate how long your application needs to be both on and off.
  • Environmental factors: Lastly, your solenoid must survive humidity, moisture, dust, and hot environments to ensure maximum functionality.

How to Install and Mount a Solenoid Wire

Hoping you bought the right solenoid to fit your usage, let me now show you how to install it;

  • Preparation: First, choose a stable and secure mounting location where the device can access your wiring. Then, clean the place and ensure it’s free from debris, dust, moisture, and obstructions.
  • Position the solenoid: Once you prepare the installation location, position the solenoid and align it according to its manual. Ensure your device coil and plunger face your intended movement direction while here.
  • Install mounting hardware: As you may know, solenoids use various mounting hardware, including screws, bolts, and brackets. Ensure you install the right mounting hardware depending on your solenoid and tighten it properly to prevent vibrations and movements.
  • Connect wires and ground: Now that you have mounted your solenoid, you need to know its terminals to connect. Here, you have a positive, ground/negative, and a communication terminal depending on your solenoid. You may follow its wiring diagram to connect it, then ground it correctly.
  • Secure wiring and test: Finally, pass a current through your solenoid to ensure it works as you hoped. From there, secure your wiring to prevent damage and use cable ties/clips to organize your wires.


I hope you can use my detailed guide to identify the required solenoid and mount and wire it properly.

I am Lillian Yang, having been a sales manager for over 10 years.

I have received many positive reviews from customers. They have praised our excellent service, on-time delivery, and high-quality cable assemblies.

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