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What Are the Different Ways of Testing a Solenoid?

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  • Written By: Jordan Weagly
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Images By: Pokchu, Nottingham Hackspace, Emel82
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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There are many different ways of testing a solenoid, generally dependent on the specific device configuration and the complexity of that device. Before testing, it is usually important to check the user’s manual for any tips and for the specifications of the device during normal operation. Testing a solenoid also might include measuring with a multimeter, observing solenoid operations, testing individual parts and replacing suspect parts. The complex interconnections of solenoids, however, mean the ability to test a solenoid is often limited.

Most of the time, referring to a user’s manual or other guide is a necessary first step when testing a solenoid. The user’s manual will typically contain information about optimal solenoid operating conditions, such as voltage and torque measurements. Common problems may be listed in a user’s manual, as well, removing the need to test a solenoid at all or perhaps answering some of the basic questions about a problem. Unique problems with specific solenoids are often indicated in user’s manuals, as well.

One of the most basic ways of checking a solenoid is to check the voltages with a multimeter. Most of the time the multimeter leads can be placed on the correct solenoid leads to show important specifications such as resistance and voltage levels. Checking these levels against normal operating specifications can indicate a problem, though this method alone often will not be enough to fully diagnose solenoid problems.

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During normal operations, it might be possible to observe the problems affecting a solenoid. If possible, it may be helpful to engage the solenoid and take note of the effects. For instance, if a solenoid’s armature doesn’t retract fully when electricity is applied, then it could indicate problems of resistance, corrosion or wiring. Again, this method of checking a solenoid might only provide a partial view of the underlying solenoid problems.

If possible, it can be helpful to test the individual parts that make up a solenoid device. For instance, if the housing of a solenoid is badly damaged, it could be interfering with normal machine operations by shorting out a circuit or preventing regular motion. In many cases, testing a solenoid means observing all related parts to make sure they are in good working order.

Sometimes, checking a solenoid might include replacing suspected parts and observing whether this fixes the solenoid problems. Replacing a deformed housing, for instance, might restore normal solenoid operations. If replacing a suspected part does not fix the problem, then that part can often be eliminated as the source of the solenoid problems.

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