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What Is A Solenoid Valve and How Does It Work?

Posted by SMC Pneumatics USA on 6/18/2019 to Manufacturing Technology

When working with machines, we want to ensure control for every process. A broken machine means that no work gets done, and we need to make costly repairs and delay work on assignments. Manufacturing and mechanical work also provide many hazards to the employees. One such example is improper flow control when machines use liquids and gases to function. You need to learn how to install and implement valves, to open and close them for fluid flow and pressure control. 

With liquids and gases, pressure control can make or break a job. If you have too much high pressure, then a machine can break and employee endangerment can ensue. In the best-case scenario, you need to make repairs and swallow the costs. In the worst-case, you may have a lawsuit on your hands. Neither option is ideal. 

Let’s say that you are installing an automatic sprinkler system on a golf course. You want to ensure that every day, the sprinklers turn on early in the morning and turn off rapidly. The water pressure will need to be high to irrigate all the courses at a consistent rate. You need a good control valve to ensure that the sprinklers won’t leak and cause a flood, and that can easily allow for an on-off situation.

Alternatively, say that you are setting up a kiln in a potter’s studio. The potter needs the kiln hot enough to bake their pots and other ceramics when they fire it up and let it blaze. You need to make sure that the fire will turn on when the artist needs it, but also will shut off quickly when they’re done. Whichever device you use, you have to be able to close the valve quickly to ensure that the kiln doesn’t get overheated or stays on all the time.   

One of your options is a solenoid valve. This can help when you need a shut-off efficiently, and that can manage pressure. If you are not familiar with these valves, we will go into the specific details below.

 

What Is A Solenoid Valve? 

A solenoid is an energy source that uses electromagnetic coils to convert electric energy into mechanical. The valve uses a solenoid as its power source, which allows it to open and close for various appliances. Usually, its body is made of plastic, aluminum, brass or stainless steel. These elements are chosen because they are nonmagnetic and can work with the fluids or gases they regulate. The coil wires tend to be made out of copper, by which to conduct electricity. 

Several types of solenoid valves exist, depending on if they are directly or indirectly operated, or exist somewhere in between. You can get one-way, two-way, and even potentially three-way solenoid valves. The number of ports in each valve determines the number of ways in which pressure can flow.

They can run on either AC or DC current, which makes them versatile for many machines. We won’t go into the detailed equations, but the fluid pressure and line diameter will determine how much power you need to factor into the valve model choice. The smaller the valve, the smaller the force they can operate. 

 

Which Products Use Solenoid Valves?

Irrigation systems invest in solenoid valves, to control water pressure. Having a decent supply of water for cash crops is a lifetime investment. Understandably, then, you want a valve that will work for shutting off and turning on the flow. 

Gas lines also use solenoid valves, to control the flow of natural gas. We know a gas leak is no joke; if we smell the sulfur added to various gases, then it’s a sign to turn off all potential flames, evacuate, and call a repairman for help. Being able to shut off the gas quickly increases safety and reduces the hazards. 

Dishwashers and washing machines also use solenoid valves, to ensure that enough water cleans your dishes and clothes. Having a failure on that front would mean either very dirty household items or a potential flood.  

In short, many products and systems such as hydraulics and pneumatics use solenoid valves, which is why you want to have them in stock. They set up relatively easily, and maintain well. 

 

How Does A Solenoid Valve Work?

A basic solenoid valve consists of multiple parts: a coil clip, magnetic coil, the core which is the magnet source, core tube, bonnet, seal, washer, diaphragm, disc, and valve body. As you can see, it’s a complicated tiny device.

The valve takes energy from the solenoid’s magnet core and a coil. Within the solenoid, the magnet creates a field between its positive and negative poles, and the valve’s piston moves from the repulsion of either pole. That motion allows the valve to open or close, affecting the seal in various ways. The valve can also remain open or closed without power, which does save on energy costs. 

If a valve has more than one port, movement happens when the ports are opened and connected. 

A direct solenoid valve has the electromagnetic forces and repulsion doing the direct opening and closing. In a piloted valve, the solenoid directs a plunger to make a small opening and that pressure allows the valve to open. Both require a steady energy source, or the solenoid valve will close. 

 

Learn More From SMC Pneumatics 

At SMC Pneumatics, we want to help educate you on flow control, and what parts you will need for solenoid repair or maintenance. We take pride in our stock and knowledge. We have all the valves you need for your machines, whether or not they are dishwashers, irrigation systems, kilns, or other such that use gas or liquids. What’s more, we can make recommendations on affordable models to have on your supply shelf. 

Contact our experts today to learn more. Our experts are always available to answer your questions regarding parts, and how best to use them. We want to get started on helping you find the right valve to help you control your pressure.

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