What Are Solenoids and How Do They Function?

Solenoids are a common type of electromagnet that are often presented in the form of a wire coiled around a metallic base or housing. By creating a magnetic field through the induction of electricity, a solenoid may benefit applications that are medical, automotive, industrial, and more with their capabilities. In this blog, we will discuss how solenoids work, allowing you to best understand how they benefit various industries and applications through their use.

As stated beforehand, a solenoid is a device which consists of a coil of wire that is placed around a base or housing. With a plunger attached to the housing of the electromagnet, electrical energy can be converted into mechanical energy. To achieve this, electricity is induced to the component which causes a magnetic field to generate. As a result of the magnetic field produced around the coil, the plunger is drawn in or pushed out through magnetic force. Compared to a standard permanent magnet, electromagnets can be switched on and off easily, allowing for them to provide more diverse uses. Depending on the solenoid in question and its intended use, the plunger may either rest in an forwards or backwards position when de-energized. With this simple operation and construction, solenoids may be used as valves, switches, seals, and more.

Within the realm of liquid transportation, solenoids are often used as valves which can close, open, dose, distribute, and mix fluids. Due to the ability to actuate the component’s functionality through inducing electricity, solenoids can be operated remotely. This is highly beneficial for liquid transportation, as such components can be placed in hazardous or hard-to-reach areas while being actuated from a convenient and safe location. Depending on the desired flow rate and pressure, different solenoid valves may be implemented within a system, and varying body configurations can provide more control over the path of liquids for certain operations.

When used for high power circuits, solenoids can serve as switches that utilize smaller amounts of power to adjust the on and off state of larger circuits. By implementing solenoid switches, the control of a high power circuit can be conducted much easier, permitting extensive logic and decision making equipment to operate more efficiently and cooler. Additionally, such solenoid components may also be actuated remotely, and thus they are often used for automotive engine starting systems and other similar applications.

Beyond distributing liquids and controlling electrical currents, solenoids can also serve for more diverse applications such as locking mechanisms and industrial machinery. As a locking mechanism, solenoids can hold a specific state of positioning without power, allowing them to lock a door or equipment piece in place even when de-energized. As some energy is required to change the state of a solenoid, a battery or energy source may be placed to ensure operation when needed. Within industrial machinery, solenoids can operate and actuate various devices, providing the ability to position, lock, rotate, and hold components.


March 18, 2021

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