There are a few different areas that an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) can make use of a solenoid, which can be either standard equipment or involve accessories. In each of these cases, a remote switch is used to activate the ATV solenoid, which in turn bridges a contact to provide current to another device. The main type of ATV solenoid is found in the ignition system, and these components are used to allow low current switches to activate high current starter motors just like in automotive applications. Another type of ATV solenoid is typically found in winch accessories. This kind of solenoid is designed to allow a rocker switch, or other similar component, to send battery voltage to a winch.
A solenoid is a component that consists of a coil wrapped around a core known as an armature. When an electrical current is applied to the solenoid, the armature can be induced to move forward or backward. This mechanical motion can then be used to perform a variety of tasks, such as bridging a contact. There is no electrical connection between the current used to activate this type of solenoid and the connection bridged by the armature, so this can be used to isolate a switch from the component it activates.
The primary type of ATV solenoid is an integral part of the starting system. In most cases, an ATV starter solenoid will be a discrete component, though they can also be integrated into a starter motor. The way this type of solenoid works is that the component is wired to a starter switch or keyed ignition switch, a starter motor and a battery. A small amount of amperage is sent to the solenoid when the switch is activated, which causes the armature to move inside the unit. This motion then bridges an internal contact, which essentially connects the starter motor to the battery.
It is also possible to find ATV solenoids in various accessories, such as winches. The function of an ATV winch solenoid is similar to that of a starter solenoid, in that it is designed to provide battery voltage to the winch. It functions in much the same way, in that a rocker switch provides a low current that causes the solenoid to bridge an internal contact. This type of ATV solenoid is sometimes capable of reversing polarity, which can be necessary in order to spool a cable out and wind it back up.