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Solenoid Selection

To select a solenoid for a given application, it is necessary for the user to answer the following questions

Solenoid Fundamentals

A quick technical guide to and overview solenoids

Solenoid Disign

Some common questions answer about solenoids and switches
Home > Solenoid Application

Technical Information -ZonHen - Solenoid Manufacturers

  • A solenoid is a device designed to convert electrical energy into linear work: this can be either push or pull.
  • The moving part of the solenoid is called the plunger and it is the movement of the plunger which is expressed as the stroke, measured in millimetres.
  • The Force/Stroke graphs shown with each type of solenoid give the nominal force, measured in N (or kg) that will be available from the plunger at any particular plunger position.
  • The Duty Cycle of a solenoid is the ratio of ON time to the total time for one cycle of operation and is expressed as a percentage, for example:
Duty Cycle = ON time
ON time + OFF time
X 100%
  • A 100% rated Duty Cycle solenoid means that it has continuous rating and can therefore be left on continuously energised without overheating.
  • Solenoids can be either AC or DC. In general, AC solenoids are more powerful and faster than DC but they are not as quiet and the plunger must not be prevented from fully closing as it will quickly overheat.
  • Most of the solenoids shown in our catalogue section can be modified to suit your application. However, we also supply a range of specialist solenoids such as latching, bi-stable, clapper and rotary, etc.

What is a solenoid?

  • A typical solenoid consists of the following main elements: a cylindrical coil, a steel or iron frame or shell, a steel or iron plunger and optionally, a stationary magnetic pole/travel stop. A magnetic field is generated within the solenoid by passing electrical current through the coil. The frame or shell surrounds the coil, providing a flux path. In effect, it focuses the magnetic field produced by the coil. The plunger, being made of highly magnetic material, reacts to the magnetic field by attempting to move to the centre of the coil. The plunger will travel to the centred position unless stopped by a load, which exceeds the solenoid's force capability, or the plunger contacts the stationary pole/travel stop. The force generated by a solenoid is dependant upon the current flowing though the coil windings.

What is the mechanical life of a solenoid?

  • Maximum solenoid life is achieved when the pull force required coincides as nearly as possible with the force generated by the solenoid. Solenoids which develop substantially more force than is required are subject to excessive hammering which eventually may cause mechanical failure. To improve mechanical life, the load must be in line with the plunger and side loads must be kept to a minimum. Mechanical life in DC solenoids will be increased with the addition of an anti-bottoming feature. There will be a slight reduction in force caused by an internal air gap when an anti-bottoming feature is included.

What factors must be considered when selecting a solenoid?

  • The following information should be determined to correctly choose a solenoid
    1. What is the linear movement needed?
    2. How much force is required to perform the operation?
    3. What is the space limitation for the solenoid?
    4. What is the duty cycle of the solenoid?
    5. What is the operating temperature range?
    6. Are there any special industrial environmental concerns?
    7. Is there need for additional circuit protection?
    8. What size lead wire and length of lead is required?

    Where are solenoids used?

Typical applications:

  • Automated teller machines - Locking and feeding
  • Automatic sorting equipment - Accept/reject gates
  • Automotive - Central locking and gear shift locking
  • Business equipment - Locking, feeding and motion control
  • Camera/photo equipment - Shutter control
  • Compressor controls - Valve operation
  • Computer Peripherals - Paper feed
  • Fluid Control/ dispensing - Valve operation/shut-off
  • Gaming machines - Coin validation, locking and motion control
  • Vending equipment - Coin validation

   What is the difference between current/voltage capacity and voltage rating?

  • Current carrying capacity measured in Amps, is the maximum load that this switch will carry with the contacts in a closed position. Current and voltage rating is the tested amperage capacity when you switch the contacts between positions under load when you switch between positions, an electrical arc occurs, Over a period of time, this arc causes contact wear. A switch with the contacts closed has no arc, and carrying capacity is higher.
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