If you’ve ever had mechanical problems with a vehicle or small engine-powered equipment, the mechanic probably made reference to the solenoid. Unless you’re a mechanic or have one in the family, you probably don’t know what this small yet significant component is used for, or even what it is, or what it looks like. You may be wondering what is a solenoid and what does it do? Here is everything you need to know about a solenoid.
What is a solenoid?
According to Process Industry Forum, a solenoid is a valve. To be more precise, it is a gas solenoid valve. It is a versatile component that is used to translate electrical impulses to open and close a valve. They’re used to control the flow of gasoline in a variety of residential and industrial applications. Gas solenoid valves are constructed to act as receivers that act on electrical impulses to convert the impulses into mechanical movements. When the solenoid valve receives an impulse, it either opens or closes a valve. When the valve is open it allows gasoline/fuel to flow through the valve. When it is closed, it stops the flow of gasoline. An open valve allows gas to flow either through a line or into a chamber to be used to run an engine.
Explanation of how the solenoid valve works
Hunker goes further to explain that there is a coil within the solenoid that receives the electric current. This creates a magnetic field. When a current is applied, usually from a battery or other electrical source, the coil in the solenoid becomes energized. There is a plunger mechanism placed on the inside of the coil. The energy from the coil causes the plunger to move, which in turn, activates the valve.
Different types of solenoid valves
Solenoid valves are classified by their normal states. Some are normally closed, which means that the closed position is the default state of the valve. With this type of valve, the coil opens when it receives an electrical impulse or current, and when the power is absent, the coil closes the valve. In a normally open valve, the default state of the solenoid valve is open. When the solenoid valve coil receives electrical currents, it causes the valve to close. The valve opens when there is no longer an electrical current being received.
What is the coil made of?
The Solenoid coil is an essential part of the component. This part of the solenoid is made of conductive metal such as aluminum wire wrapped around a hollow form, or of copper wire. The metal wire wraps around the plunger of the valve. It is the lines of magnetic flux that make the plunger act as an electromagnet. The plunger slides into the coil by magnetism, opening the valve to allow gas to flow through.
What are solenoids used in?
Many residential and industrial applications require the use of a gas solenoid. These components help to control the flow of gasoline in a broad range of pneumatic machinery that requires the use of gas pressure for powering its moving parts. Some manufacturing facilities use solenoid valves for machinery that is used in their manufacturing processes. These are the most common industrial uses.
In your home, you are likely to have home heating furnaces that operate through the use of a solenoid. Gas solenoids are commonly used in natural gas furnaces to control the flow of fuel once the pilot light is lit. If you have other gas-powered appliances in your home such as a gas stove/range, gas-powered clothes dryer, a solenoid is a component in these appliances that helps to prevent fires or natural gas poisoning in the home. Vehicles that you drive use solenoid valves to control how gasoline or diesel flows into the cylinders of the vehicle.
Who manufactures gas solenoid valves?
Several manufacturers or brands produce gas solenoid valves. Some specialize in solenoids for particular applications. For example, ASCO is a brand of the solenoid that is designed for use with motorized shutoff functions to control the flow of all grades of fuel that are used in combustion applications, including gasoline, liquid propane, diesel, and more. This company one of the largest producers of solenoids for industrial applications including burners, incinerators, kilns, ovens, industrial furnaces, and boilers. They offer a large selection of shutoff and control valves in various models including manual reset, 3-way diversion valves, 2-way normally closed, and normally open. ASCO valves are made of either stainless steel, aluminum, or brass materials and are rated for frigid climates with functionality to negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another company specializing in the production of solenoid valves for fluid and gas media is Burkert. This is an international company that produces aggressive or neutral, fluid, and gaseous media, that is applicable in a large range of pressure and temperature requirements. The founder of this company is Christian Burkert who pioneered the modern solenoid valve. Another top brand is Buschjost/IMI Norgren. This company specializes in the production of solenoid valves that are used for different media, temperatures, pressures, and applications. The company offers direct-acting solenoid valves, indirect-acting valves, and hybrids of both with forced lifting.
Now you know what a solenoid is and how it is used. It is an essential component in most fuel-powered vehicles and equipment that act as a signal to open the valve that releases fuel to power the vehicle or equipment. These parts are used for the safe and successful operation of almost any gas-powered appliance found in the home, industrial equipment that powers large factories and manufacturing plants, and more. Lawnmowers, ATVs, motorcycles, cars, trucks, and more rely on this small but necessary component for operation. So now you know what your mechanic is talking about if he tells you that there isn’t any power getting to the solenoid and it’s time for a replacement.