A solenoid valve is a device powered by electricity and used to control how gases and liquids move through a system, allowing a product to flow — or force it to stop flowing. It also can allow multiple liquids or gases to mix. The price of a solenoid valve is determined, in part, by how many outlets it has. The number of different uses and type of uses also can affect the price of a solenoid valve, as can the material from which the valve is made. How quickly the solenoid valve can move and the temperatures it can handle also are important price considerations.
The basic solenoid valve is a two-way, meaning it has an outlet and inlet. Other solenoid valves, such as the three-way and four-way, have more outlets, meaning the liquid can be distributed to several different areas at the same time. If the valve has more outlets, this generally increases the price of a solenoid valve, because more materials are needed to make the valve.
A solenoid valve can handle several types of media, most often water, steam and oil. Some valves can only handle one medium, while others can handle a range of media at once without requiring any changes. If the valve can handle several media, then this typically will affect the price of the solenoid valve.
Nearly all solenoid valve units are made from metal, but there are several common metals used. The three most common are brass, steel and aluminum. Steel is the cheapest and hardest, but it cannot be used for drinking water purposes; brass is the most expensive but very soft; aluminum is between the two and good for inexpensive purposes when a softer material is required. Brass is considered the most sanitary and least likely to leech into the liquid being used, making brass the most common metal used to make a solenoid valve.
When a solenoid valve is used, it must respond to pressure and other factors to determine where the water, steam or oil should go, or if the outlet should be closed. Some solenoid valves are made to do this very quickly, while others operate at slower speeds; the speed affects the price of a solenoid valve. Another factor in pricing a solenoid valve, especially in extremely hot or cold applications, is the temperature the valve can withstand. The common temperature range is between 10° Fahrenheit and 260° Fahrenheit (12° Celsius to 126° Celsius), but specialized valves can be made to handle higher or lower temperatures.