Solenoid 101: What is a Solenoid?

August 25, 2012
Learn the basics of how different solenoids operate.

What is a solenoid?

A solenoid is a device comprised of a coil of wire, the housing and a moveable plunger (armature). When an electrical current is introduced, a magnetic field forms around the coil which draws the plunger in. More simply, a solenoid converts electrical energy into mechanical work.

  • The coil is made of many turns of tightly wound copper wire. When an electrical current flows through this wire, a strong magnetic field/flux is created.
  • The housing, usually made of iron or steel, surrounds the coil concentrating the magnetic field generated by the coil.
  • The plunger is attracted to the stop through the concentration of the magnetic field providing the mechanical force to do work.