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Parts of the Solenoid Valve. How Solenoid Valve Works?

written by: Haresh Khemani • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 11/18/2009

This article describes the various parts of the solenoid and the working of the solenoid valve.

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    Let us now see the parts of the solenoid, which will also help us understand the working of the solenoid valve. The parts of the typical solenoid valve are shown in the figure below and described below.

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    Solenoid Valve

    Parts of Solenoid Valve
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    Parts of the Solenoid Valve and their Working

    Here are the various parts of the solenoid valve and their working (please refer the figure above).

    1) Valve body: This is the body of the valve to which the solenoid valve is connected. The valve is usually connected in the process flow pipeline to control the flow of certain fluid like liquid or air. Ordinarily the flow from the valve is controlled by the handle, but in case of the automatic valve the solenoid valve is connected to the valve.

    2) Inlet port of the valve: This is the port through which the fluid enters inside the automatic valve and from here it can enter into the final process.

    3) Outlet port: The fluid that is allowed to pass through the automatic valve leaves the valve through the outlet port. The solenoid valve controls the flow of the fluid from inlet port to the outlet port. The outlet port is eventually connected to the process where the fluid is required.

    4) Coil/ Solenoid: This is body of the solenoid coil. The body of the solenoid coil is cylindrical in shape, and it is hollow from inside. The body is covered with steel covering and it has metallic finish. Inside the solenoid valve there is solenoid coil.

    5) Coil windings: The solenoid consists of several turns of the enameled wire wound around the ferromagnetic material like steel or iron. The coil forms the shape of the hollow cylinder. Externally this coil is covered with the steel covering and inside the hollow part there is a plunger or the piston, whose motion inside the hollow space is controlled by the spring.

    6) Lead wires: These are external connections of the solenoid valve that are connected to the electrical supply. The current is supplied to the solenoid valve from these wires. When the solenoid valve is energized, the current flows through these wires to the solenoid valve and when the solenoid valve is de-energized the flow of current stops.

    7) Plunger or piston: This is the solid round metallic part cylindrical in shape and placed in the hollow portion the solenoid valve. When the electrical current is passed through the solenoid valve, the magnetic field is generated inside the hollow space. Due to this the plunger tends to move vertically in the hollow space. When the electrical current is stopped to the solenoid valve, the magnetic field is stopped and the plunger is remains the existing place due to the force of the spring.

    8) Spring: The plunger moves inside the hollow space due to the action of the magnetic field against the action of the spring. The magnetic field generated inside the solenoid valve tends to move the plunger, but the spring tends to stop the motion of the plunger in which ever the position it is. This action of the spring against the magnetic field helps keeping the plunger in the position where the flow of current to the solenoid valve is stopped. The spring performs very crucial action inside the hollow space. For one, the plunger is in the vertical position, so the spring helps keeping it at the desired position instead of allowing the plunger to fall to the bottom due to gravity when the current to the solenoid valve is stopped. Secondly, the spring also prevents the movement of the plunger due to force of the fluid flowing through the valve body. If the spring was not there the plunger would have moved up when the fluid is present and moved down when the fluid is not there. Thus the spring actually forces the plunger to carry out the control of the fluid. It allows the movement of the plunger only to the extent when the electric current is flowing through the solenoid valve.

    9) Orifice: The orifice is an important part of the valve though which the fluid is flowing. It is the connection between the inlet and the outlet port. The flow of fluid from the inlet port to the outlet port takes place from this port. In the ordinary valves, this port is covered with the valve disc at the bottom of the stem of the valve to which the handle is connected. Thus in ordinary valves, the opening of the orifice are controlled by the handle, but in case of the solenoid valves, the opening of the orifice is controlled by the plunger. The movement of the plunger is in turn controlled by the spring and the current flowing through the solenoid valve.

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    If the current passing through the solenoid valve is constant, the position of the plunger and hence opening of the orifice remains constant. If the sensor senses that more flow of the fluid is required, it allows the increase in current passing through the solenoid valve, which creates more magnetic field and more upwards motion of the plunger. This leads to further opening of the orifice and more flow of the fluid from the inlet port to the outlet. If the required flow of fluid is less, the sensor allows passage of the lesser current to the solenoid valve. When the sensor senses that the fluid is no more required in the process, it stops the flow of the current to the solenoid valve completely. Due to this the solenoid valve gets de-energized and the plunger reaches the bottom most position and closes the orifice completely thus stopping the flow of fluid from the inlet port to the outlet port.
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    Working of the Solenoid Valve

    Initially the sensor senses the process towards the outlet side of the solenoid valve. When it senses that certain quantity of the flow of the fluid is required, it allows the current to pass through the solenoid valve. Due to this the valve gets energized and the magnetic field is generated which triggers the movement of the plunger against the action of the spring. Due to this the plunger moves in upwards direction, which allows the opening of the orifice. At this instant the flow of the fluid is allowed from the inlet port to the outlet port.

    If the current passing through the solenoid valve is constant, the position of the plunger and hence opening of the orifice remains constant. If the sensor senses that more flow of the fluid is required, it allows the increase in current passing through the solenoid valve, which creates more magnetic field and more upwards motion of the plunger. This leads to further opening of the orifice and more flow of the fluid from the inlet port to the outlet. If the required flow of fluid is less, the sensor allows passage of the lesser current to the solenoid valve.

    When the sensor senses that the fluid is no more required in the process, it stops the flow of the current to the solenoid valve completely. Due to this the solenoid valve gets de-energized and the plunger reaches the bottom most position and closes the orifice completely thus stopping the flow of fluid from the inlet port to the outlet port.

    In this way the solenoid coil operates the valve as if it is being operated by the human being. When the flow of certain quantity of fluid is required it opens the valve to required extent and when the flow is not required it shuts the valve entirely.

    The whole working animation of this solenoid valve is shown at LABAUTOPEDIA. Another type of solenoid valve used to control the flow of the process is shown in the figure below. Yet another figure shows how the flow of fluid is allowed when the solenoid valve is energized and stopped when the solenoid valve is de-energized.

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    Working of Solenoid Valve

    Working of Solenoid ValveWorking of Solenoid Valve
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    Types of Solenoid Valves

    The solenoid valve explained above is the two-way solenoid valve, since it has only two ports. This is also called as the direct acting two-way solenoid valve. There are also direct acting three-way and four-way solenoid valves used for different applications.

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    Images Courtesy

    1) LABAUTOPEDIA

    2) Book: Electric Controls for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning by B. C. Langley, Printice-Hall, Inc, page no. 31

    3) Wikipedia

What are Solenoid Valves? How Solenoid Valves Work?

This is the series of articles that describes what the solenoid valve is, the principle of working of the solenoid valve, various parts of the valve, how the solenoid valve works and the applications of the solenoid valves.
  1. What is Solenoid Valve?
  2. Parts of the Solenoid Valve. How Solenoid Valve Works?
  3. Applications of the Solenoid Valves