How Extreme Temperatures Affect Solenoid Valves

Whether your application involves possibly freezing or even boiling temperatures, intense ambient conditions can alter a solenoid valve function.

How Cold Impacts Proportional Solenoid Valve Performance

Extreme cold compromises solenoid valve function in several ways, including:

Fluid viscosity changes: Fluids thicken in colder environments, resulting in sluggish conditions that can negatively impact a valve’s response time.

Hardened seals: Freezing temperatures affect seal elasticity. Hardened seals can become brittle and may fail to conform to the valve seat, increasing the risk of a fluid leak.

Material contraction: Metals and elastomers are at risk when running in cold temperatures. Depending on valve construction, material contraction also negatively affects its sealing ability.

Inconsistent actuation:  Occurs when a solenoid valve runs at infrequent intervals and low-cycling applications. Cold temperatures prevent the elastomer’s seal from compressing to the mating surface, causing slower actuation.

Cavitation: Acute cold can create vapor bubbles in a solenoid valve that damage key surfaces when they collapse.

Preventing Valve Issues in Cold Temperatures

For applications in cold environments, it’s important to choose a solenoid valve that’s made of appropriate materials, such as stainless steel and nickel alloys.

Insulating valves against the cold helps maintain stable operation and reduces the risk of moisture-induced corrosion.

In severe cases, you may need to install heating elements in or around a solenoid valve to prevent the fluid from freezing or slowing down the cycle.

Using low-temperature lubricants reduces friction from high-viscosity fluids and supports smooth performance in cold applications.

How Heat Impacts Proportional Solenoid Valve Performance

Solenoid valve operation may also suffer in high ambient temperatures, resulting in:

Overheating: Continuously energized or high cycling use generates heat within the solenoid, which coupled with ambient heat, can damage elastomers and electrical components over time. Valves may also malfunction if they’re located close to a heat source or exposed to direct sunlight.

Seal degradation: Elastomers are made of rubber or synthetic polymers that wear over time. Extreme heat alters the molecular structure of those materials and accelerates the aging process. This aging process makes seals less flexible and prone to cracking.

Structural problems: Too much heat can strain structural components, including housing and mounting elements. Those components may weaken over time and affect valve efficiency.

Low viscosity: Hot fluids have a higher viscosity and flow more freely. While that is beneficial in some applications, it’s not always ideal. Low-viscosity fluids may result in unstable function, creating flow control issues and leaks.

Electromagnetic changes: Solenoid valves rely on electromagnetic currents to energize the solenoid. Excessive heat impacts the temperature-dependent electrical components responsible for creating that current.

Preventing Valve Issues in Hot Temperatures

Selecting the valve with a proper temperature rating for your application extremes reduces the likelihood of malfunctions from heat buildup. Programmable control systems can properly control a solenoid valve when it’s needed (such as “hit and hold” circuitry), reducing the amount of heat produced during operation.

Proper ventilation can prevent an accumulation of thermal energy, preserving the integrity of a valve’s components. Look for valves made of heat-resistant materials like fluorocarbon elastomers, aluminum alloys and stainless steel that are designed to handle hot environments.

Add temperature sensors to your valve system to trigger cooling mechanisms based on feedback from a control system.

Adhering to a maintenance schedule will also help you spot signs of heat damage and degradation that could jeopardize the application.

Innovative Proportional Solenoid Valve Designs at Humphrey Products

Ideal operating conditions vary among ON/OFF and proportional solenoid valves. At Humphrey Products, we offer a variety of solenoid valves with rugged designs that deliver reliable functions in extreme heat and cold. Our expert team will review the temperature range and other ambient factors to determine which of our products is right for the job.

Call 1-800-477-8709 to talk with a member of our technical service team about valve selection.

Humphrey Miniature 2-Way & 3-Way Solenoid Operated Valves