The ideal solenoid is a system of circular currents of uniform direction, equal, parallel, of equal diameter of circle, and with their centers lying on the same straight line, which line is perpendicular to their planes.


The simple solenoid as constructed of wire, is a helical coil, of uniform diameter, so as to represent a cylinder. After completing the coil one end of the wire is bent back and carried through the centre of the coil, bringing thus both ends out at the same end. The object of doing this is to cause this straight return member to neutralize the longitudinal component of the helical turns. This it does approximately so as to cause the solenoid for its practical action to correspond with the ideal solenoid.

Instead of carrying one end of the wire through the centre of the coil as just described, both ends may be bent back and brought together at the centre.

A solenoid should always have this neutralization of the longitudinal component of the helices provided for; otherwise it is not a true solenoid.

Solenoids are used in experiments to represent magnets and to study and illustrate their laws. When a current goes through them they acquire polarity, attract iron, develop lines of force and act in general like magnets.

A solenoid is also defined as a coil of insulated wire whose length is not small as compared with its diameter.