At the most basic level, a power solenoid is a coil through which electricity passes to create a magnetic field. Solenoids are considered extremely useful, and the ability to create controlled magnetic fields is considered the basis of electromechanical applications. They are often integral parts of many commercial and industrial processes. Common varieties can include rotary and linear solenoids. Another important classification of solenoids includes high- and low-power versions.
Power solenoids are usually looped wire surrounding a metallic core. As energy is applied to and flows through the looped wire, it is subject to certain electrical forces, including Faraday’s law and Ampere’s law. Depending on the amount of loops, the size of the wire and a multitude of other factors, a power solenoid can be extremely powerful or relatively weak. Stronger solenoids often contain tighter windings, while weaker solenoids might have looser or fewer windings.
While there are many applications for solenoids, they are often used to create electromagnets that can then be combined with other mechanisms. Such a solenoid can be used as an automobile starter by helping to step up weaker ignition power to full strength. Solenoids also are useful for transferring the forces involved in pneumatics and hydraulics.
To accommodate these many applications, there are many types of power solenoid available. Despite this wide variety, most solenoids can be classified as either rotary or linear. Rotary solenoids typically contain a rotating ratchet mechanism meant to transfer energy in a rotation; these can be used in machine tools. A linear power solenoid typically transfers energy in a linear pattern, often performing less complex tasks such as those associated with locks or pumps.
In addition to rotary and linear versions, a solenoid might be classified as having either high or low power. High-power solenoid models typically handle strong power currents, and many play an important role in energy infrastructures. Another job typically assigned to a high-power solenoid is taking a low-input signal and transferring it to a higher output. These solenoids will likely have dense coils responsible for creating strong magnetic fields.
Low-power solenoids typically require even smaller input signals to produce the desired output. Specifically designed to utilize weak currents, a low-power solenoid might be used in safety mechanisms when main power currents become unavailable. In some operations, a low-power solenoid might be used to operate a control valve that does not require much power.