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What Is a Water Solenoid?

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  • Written By: Paul Scott
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2016
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A water solenoid is a remotely-operated electromagnetic fluid control device used to shut off or allow the passage of water in a variety of applications. These solenoids typically consist of a standard, poppet-type water valve actuated by a solenoid mounted on top of the valve body. When the solenoid is activated, it pulls the valve poppet up against spring tension, opening the valve and allowing water to pass. When the power to the solenoid is cut, the valve spring re-seats the poppet closing the valve as it does so. The water solenoid is typically used where valves are located in hard-to-reach, hazardous or remote locations and where valve operation is controlled by an automated system.

Solenoid valves are widely-used fluid control devices in applications requiring remote or automated activation of valves. A solenoid is a very simple actuator that relies on electromagnetic force for the generation of its working motion. The average solenoid consists of a wire coil wound around a hollow core. A moving, ferrous metal plunger is placed in close proximity to the opening of the core. When an electric current is passed through the coil, a powerful magnetic field is generated that attracts the plunger, pulling it smartly into the core and producing the required output motion.

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In the case of a water solenoid, the plunger is attached to the stem of a conventional poppet-type valve. When the solenoid is activated, the moving plunger raises the poppet off of its seat against spring pressure, opening the flow path through the valve. If the power to the coil is cut, the valve spring snaps the poppet back onto its seat, closing the valve and resetting the solenoid at the same time. The water solenoid is typically a one-piece unit with the solenoid permanently mounted on top of the valve body. In some cases, the valve and solenoid are sealed in a common housing with only the water inlet and outlet fittings and the solenoid coil leads visible.

The water solenoid is commonly found in applications where the valve location is in an inaccessible, remote, or hazardous location. In some cases, the valve may be manually-activated by an operator from a centralized control station. It is also widely used in automated applications such as timer-controlled irrigation and fire sprinkler systems. The solenoids are additionally handy in extensive, complex systems featuring large numbers of valves and high-operating cycle volumes.

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