Solenoid valves use an electromagnetic coil to a attract a moving core that links to a diaphragm or piston that effects the opening and closing of the valve. Two way valves are on/off valves for fluid isolation and in the de-energised state can be normally closed(NC) or normally open (NO). Two way valves often only work with one flow direction and this is clearly marked although bidirectional 2 way valves can be supplied when necessary.
Three way valves are used to divert the flow from one path to another or select a flow source from two inlets. Often used to pilot spring return actuators, three way valves offer the same NC and NO functions as two way valves but can also be universal (U) in that the design is possible to be piped for any function and the valve is not directionally biassed.
Five way valves divert 2 flow streams and can be considered as a pair of 3/2 valves sharing a common inlet port and operation. Five way valves often employ two solenoid coils making them bistable and requiring separate coil activation to change state.
Three and five way valves are often described as directional control valves.
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