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Ask the experts: What are the advantages and disadvantages of solenoid valves?

Solenoid valves are commonly found throughout domestic and industrial applications and there are a range of solenoid valve types available on the market. Common solenoid valve applications include refrigeration and air conditioning units, vehicles, and hydraulic and pneumatic systems. In this article, we talk to MGA Controls about how a solenoid valve works, and the key advantages and disadvantages associated with the decision to use one.

What does a solenoid valve do and what solenoid valve types are there?

A solenoid valve is an electro-mechanical valve that is used to automatically control the flow of liquid or gas. Solenoid valves work by using remotely activated electromagnetism to facilitate the opening or closing of a port in a valve body, which either permits or disables flow through the valve. They usually consist of a coil and plunger assembly. In normally closed valves, a plunger return spring holds the plunger against the orifice and prevents flow.

Once the solenoid coil is energised, the resultant magnetic field raises the plunger, enabling flow. In a normally open valve, when the solenoid coil is energised, the plunger seals off the orifice which, in turn, prevents flow. Solenoid valve types include the direct-acting solenoid valve and the pilot-operated solenoid valve, with a variety of configurations available depending on the intended application.

What are the advantages of solenoid valves?

Solenoid valves have been through a constantly evolving design process to improve and develop their functionality over many years, creating a valve that is reliable, safe and efficient. The solenoid valve is an incredibly versatile option, particularly in automated systems where the operation needs to be undertaken remotely, such as in solenoid valve applications where toxic fluids are present. The opening and closing time of a solenoid valve makes it the ideal solution for many applications where speed is a critical factor. Some of the key advantages of solenoid valves are outlined below:

  • Low energy use
  • Remotely operated
  • Cost-effective to maintain and service
  • Compatible with AC and DC voltages
  • Extremely fast open and shut times
  • Capable of operating in extreme temperatures
  • Safety external leakage block
  • Operates both vertically and horizontally
  • Solenoid valve applications are extremely diverse, thanks to their versatility.

What are the disadvantages of solenoid valves?

The most obvious disadvantages of solenoid valves relate to their sensitivity to voltage fluctuations; if the voltage feed is not constant and at the correct rate, the magnetic fields can be affected and therefore the valve will not operate reliably. The incorrect voltage can also cause additional wear to the coil, resulting in a faster deterioration and the need for a replacement. Some of the most common disadvantages of a solenoid valve are:

  • The potential for the coil to need replacing during its lifetime
  • The need for the control signal to remain during its operation
  • Sensitivity to voltage fluctuations or changes
  • Unintended partial closure of the valve if the magnetic field isn’t properly set up
  • The effect of the flow on the valve fluid.

The wide range of solenoid valve types available means that there is a suitable configuration out there for most solenoid valve applications, however, they may not always be the most effective solution when compared to a motorised or pneumatic valve. If you would like to find out more about which of the solenoid valve types would be most suitable for your application, speak to the experts; MGA Controls are the leading control and instrumentation company for actuation devices, pneumatics and the whole range of valves. Call MGA Controls to discuss your solenoid valve application requirements on 01704 776459.

Company Profile

MGA Controls Ltd

MGA Controls are a leading Control & Instrumentation company delivering high-quality products and services to the industry since 1986.

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