Solenoid-Controlled, Pilot-Operated Directional Control Valves


  • Explain the function of a solenoid-controlled, pilot-operated directional control valve.
    • Different spool types/porting arrangements.
    • Internal and external piloting.
  • Interpret the simplified and detailed schematic symbols.
  • Explain the purpose of the optional pilot choke valve section.

What's so Special About These Valves?

It's worth taking some time to become familiar with this class of directional control valve (DCV) because they are incredibly common for handling 100+ GPM (400+ LPM) flows. You'll encounter them in both plant and mobile settings; they are a go-to valve used in all kinds of different hydraulics applications.

Once you get familiar with the basics of their appearance and operation you'll have a huge mental shortcut for reading schematics and visualizing systems.

Solenoid controlled, pilot operated DCVs in a plant setting, shown in color.



We've been referring to this valve as a DCV, which is a shortened way of saying directional control valve.

Other Names

Because pilot operated DCVs are so common, you'll hear different people refer to them by different names. A couple of popular names are 2-Stage Valves, and Master-Slave valves.

Basic Parts

The average solenoid-controlled, pilot-operated DCV has two or three sections plumbed together as a valve stack.

Main Valve Section

The main valve section is what it's all about. This is the section that does the work of directing flow out to the system components. It often handles high pressures and large volumes of fluid, so it will be the physically largest part of the valve stack. (This is the section that would be the "slave" section, if you are referring to the valve as master-slave).

Main Section Manifold
Manifold Block
Cap & Spring

Closed Center

A very common spool and port arrangement is a four port, three position closed center valve, as shown here. (The manifold block is drawn in as well.)

Moving the valve spool to the left connects P to B, and A to T.

When the spool is centered, all ports are blocked.

Moving the valve spool to the right connects P to A, and B to T.

Float Center

Float center spools are also very popular. When de-energized, the spool connects the A and B lines to the tank.

Moving the spool to the left connects P to B, and A to T.

At center, P is blocked, and A and B connect to T.

Moving the spool to the right connects P to A, and B to T.

Try it!

Use the controls to send the main spool back and forth. A graphic cutaway of a closed center valve is on the left, and its schematic is on the right.

This is just a preview!

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We hope you enjoyed Solenoid-Controlled, Pilot-Operated Directional Control Valves

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