What is the Difference Between an Actuated Valve and a Solenoid Valve?

In the diverse world of industrial valve systems, understanding the specific functions and applications of different valve types is critical for optimal system performance. At Process Valves, with over 35 years of expertise in the field, we frequently encounter questions regarding the selection between actuated valves and solenoid valves. Both play pivotal roles in various industrial processes, but they operate on distinctly different principles and are suited for different applications. This blog post aims to demystify these differences, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of each valve type, their structures, functions, and the unique roles they play in industrial systems. By delving into the nuances of these valves, we assist you in making informed decisions for your specific industrial needs.

In the next section, we will take an in-depth look at both solenoid valves and actuated valves, starting with an exploration of what a solenoid valve is.

In-Depth Look: Solenoid Valves and Actuated Valves

What is a Solenoid Valve?

A solenoid valve is an electromechanical device used for controlling the flow of liquids or gases in a system. It operates using an electromagnetic solenoid coil to change the state of the valve. When an electric current passes through this coil, it generates a magnetic field, which in turn moves a plunger or a similar mechanism, opening or closing the valve. Solenoid valves are prized for their fast response times and reliability in simple open/close operations. They are typically used in applications where control needs to be remote and where rapid and frequent operation is essential.

At Process Valves, our range of solenoid valves is tailored to suit various applications, ensuring efficiency and reliability. Our expertise allows us to guide our clients in selecting the most suitable solenoid valve for their specific requirements, whether it involves handling water, air, oil, or other fluids.

Next, we will explore actuated valves, another crucial component in industrial valve systems, to understand their structure and operation.

What is an Actuated Valve?

An actuated valve, in contrast to a solenoid valve, is operated using an actuator mechanism. This mechanism can be pneumatic, hydraulic, or electric. The actuator, mounted on the valve, controls the movement of the valve stem, thereby opening or closing the valve. Actuated valves are known for their versatility and are used in more complex control scenarios where modulation of the valve position is necessary. Pneumatic actuators, for instance, use air pressure for operation, hydraulic actuators use fluid pressure, and electric actuators rely on motor-driven gears.

At Process Valves, we specialise in providing a wide range of actuated valves, each designed to meet specific industrial requirements. Our expertise extends to advising on the appropriate actuator type based on the application’s environment, the nature of the fluid being controlled, and the operational requirements of the system.

Having understood what solenoid and actuated valves are, we will now delve into the key differences in their structure and function, highlighting how these distinctions play a significant role in their suitability for various applications.

Key Differences in Structure and Function

Understanding the structural and functional differences between actuated valves and solenoid valves is fundamental to their appropriate application in industrial settings. These differences are rooted in their design, operational mechanisms, and resultant performance capabilities.

Differences in Valve Function: Actuated vs. Solenoid

The primary function of a solenoid valve is to enable or block flow in a straightforward, on-off manner. This binary operation makes them ideal for simple control systems where the need is for rapid switching. In contrast, actuated valves offer a greater degree of control. They not only allow for the on-off functionality but can also modulate flow, adjusting the valve to different positions for flow regulation. This makes actuated valves more suitable for complex systems where precise control of fluid dynamics is essential.

Differences in Actuation Method: How They Work

The actuation method itself is another key differentiator. Solenoid valves are operated electrically via a solenoid coil, making them dependent on electrical power for their operation. This can be a limitation in environments where electrical supply is inconsistent. Actuated valves, on the other hand, can be driven pneumatically, hydraulically, or electrically, providing greater flexibility in different industrial environments. Pneumatic and hydraulic actuators, for example, are often chosen for their robustness and reliability in harsh or hazardous conditions.

In the next section, we will present a comparative analysis of actuated and solenoid valves, focusing on different applications and industrial processes where each valve type excels. This analysis will provide further insights into the practical considerations when choosing between these two types of valves.

Comparative Analysis: Actuated Valves and Solenoid Valves

This section offers a comparative analysis, shedding light on the diverse applications and industrial processes where actuated and solenoid valves are most effectively utilised. Understanding these applications is crucial in selecting the right valve for your specific needs.

Different Applications: Where Each Valve Excels

Solenoid valves, with their rapid on-off capability, are extensively used in applications that require quick and efficient flow control. They are commonly found in heating systems, air conditioning units, automatic irrigation systems, and in various medical and dental equipment. Their simplicity and efficiency make them an ideal choice for systems where timing and precision are key.

Actuated valves, in contrast, are more suited for applications where flow needs to be varied or regulated over time. This includes water treatment plants, chemical processing industries, and oil and gas pipelines, where the ability to control the valve’s position precisely is paramount. The versatility of actuated valves, especially with different types of actuators, allows them to be customised for specific operational demands, making them a preferred option in more complex industrial environments.

Various Applicable Processes: Industrial Perspectives

From an industrial perspective, the selection between these two types of valves often depends on the nature of the process involved. Processes that involve hazardous materials or operate under extreme conditions often favour actuated valves for their durability and ability to provide controlled responses under varying pressures and temperatures. On the other hand, processes that prioritise speed and simplicity, such as assembly lines or automated manufacturing processes, typically opt for solenoid valves.

Up next, we will explore practical considerations in choosing between actuated and solenoid valves, including factors that influence valve selection and the technical advantages and limitations of each type. This will provide a more comprehensive understanding of how to tailor your valve choice to your specific requirements.

Practical Considerations in Choosing Between the Two

When selecting between actuated and solenoid valves, several practical considerations come into play. These considerations are crucial for ensuring optimal performance, longevity, and cost-effectiveness in your valve selection.

Factors Influencing Valve Selection

One of the primary factors influencing valve selection is the nature of the application itself. This includes the type of medium being controlled (liquid, gas, or steam), the required flow rate, and the operating pressure and temperature. For instance, solenoid valves are generally preferred for smaller diameter pipelines where the flow rate is relatively low, whereas actuated valves are more suited for larger scale operations with higher flow rates.

The environmental conditions of the application area also play a significant role. For environments with fluctuating power supply or in hazardous areas, pneumatic or hydraulic actuated valves are often more reliable than solenoid valves. Furthermore, the frequency of operation and the need for flow modulation must be considered. Actuated valves are more appropriate for systems requiring frequent adjustments in flow rate or pressure.

Technical Advantages and Limitations

Each valve type comes with its own set of technical advantages and limitations. Solenoid valves are known for their compact design, rapid response time, and ease of installation and maintenance. However, their reliance on electrical power and their limited suitability for high-flow applications are notable limitations.

Actuated valves, on the other hand, offer greater versatility and control, especially in demanding industrial applications. They can handle higher flow rates and are suitable for a wider range of fluid types. However, they may require more complex installation and maintenance, and their initial cost can be higher compared to solenoid valves.

In the concluding section, we will wrap up our discussion, summarising the key points and reinforcing the importance of selecting the right valve type for your specific industrial application. This summary will assist you in making an informed decision that aligns with the operational requirements and goals of your business.


In conclusion, understanding the distinct differences between actuated valves and solenoid valves is imperative for making informed decisions in industrial valve selection. Solenoid valves, characterised by their simplicity, rapid operation, and suitability for low-flow applications, are excellent for systems requiring fast and frequent on-off control. Actuated valves, with their versatility and capability for flow modulation, are better suited for larger scale operations and more complex control requirements.

The choice between these two types of valves hinges on several critical factors: the nature of the medium being controlled, the operational environment, the required flow rate and pressure, and the specific demands of the application process. Solenoid valves offer ease of use and maintenance in simpler systems, while actuated valves provide robust performance and precise control in more demanding industrial environments.

At Process Valves, our commitment extends beyond merely supplying valves; we aim to be your partner in finding the most effective and efficient solutions for your specific needs. Our extensive experience and technical expertise enable us to guide you through the process of valve selection, ensuring that you choose the right type of valve that not only meets but exceeds your operational requirements.

We encourage you to contact us for any further information or assistance in selecting the ideal valve solution for your industrial application. With Process Valves, you are assured of quality, reliability, and a customer-centric approach that is fundamental to the success of your business.

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