Golf Car Catalog offers a great selection of solenoids for Columbia and Harley-Davidson golf carts, utility vehicles, and personnel carriers. We carry solenoids for both gas and electric golf carts at the 12V, 24V, 36V, and 48V voltage level as well as amperages from 100A up to 1200A. Solenoids are also often referred to as contactors, or relays.
A solenoid is an electro-magnetic switch. This means when 12, 36 or 48-volts is applied to the small terminals on the solenoid an internal steel plunger with a large flat metal washer on one end is magnetically forced (thrown) against the two large copper terminals, thus allowing them to conduct electricity through the solenoid. A solenoid makes or breaks the circuit carrying the large amount of current required to crank a gas car or power an electric car. This high current switching would cause standard switches to fail. As it is the solenoid is the most common failure in electric cars, especially older ones.
The solenoids common to gas and electric golf cars come in two similar but different varieties; a 4 terminal, with two small 'control circuit' terminals & two large copper 'power circuit' terminals, and a 6 terminal, or double throw solenoid, which has two small terminals & four large cooper terminals. Even though a solenoid is a switch it needs another switch to make it throw, or start to conduct electricity through the large copper terminals. That 'other' switch is usually an accelerator switch connected to the gas pedal. When you press on the pedal the acc switch closes and this allows power to activate the solenoid. The large washer on the end of the internal plunger throws hard against the large copper terminals and power begins to flow.