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What Is a Solenoid Air Valve?

Jordan Weagly
Jordan Weagly

A solenoid air valve is a device that uses a solenoid to control the flow of air or gas. These devices work through electromechanical processes and have many applications, especially within industrial and commercial systems. There are several advantages to solenoid air valves and some disadvantages, mostly dependent on the applications and the specific air valve design. Some common configurations represent a large portion of the available solenoid air valves, many designed to cope with the specific challenges associated with pneumatic systems.

Solenoids are essentially electromagnets used to activate mechanical parts. In a solenoid air valve, activating a solenoid typically opens the valve and allows air to flow while deactivating the solenoid closes the valve. With some types of solenoids, this might be reversed. A new solenoid air valve is often considered reliable, and there are many applications that depend on these devices.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Natural gas machinery, for example, often makes use of a solenoid air valve to control the flow of gas from wells or storage tanks. Pneumatically controlled machines also typically use these kinds of valves, because they can be combined to make more complex systems. A solenoid valve also might be used within industrial processes such as high-volume applications in automated manufacturing or high-torque tools.

Advantages to using a solenoid air valve might include speed, safety and reliability. Many of these valves can be activated in a fraction of a second, which makes them useful for automated systems such as those used in industrial manufacturing. Simple, reliable designs are often possible when incorporating a solenoid air valve. Additionally, these valves are often favored because they are compact, cheap and often have low power consumption even for high-volume applications.

Disadvantages are generally linked to the mechanical limits of a solenoid air valve. In many cases, the only positions offered by a solenoid air valve are open and closed. Partial opening and closing might require additional valves or more complex configurations. Additionally, there are often temperature or pressure limits that can impact the usefulness of this kind of valve.

Common configurations might include the plunger and pivoted armature designs. Plungers are essentially straight, closing off a valve from a right angle. Pivoted armatures are often preferred in more complex or specific pneumatic systems. Many of these designs are meant to address the challenges associated with controlling air flow, which may include handling the constant pressure, fitting specific designs and providing safety measure in case of mechanism failure.

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