What is Electro Hydraulic Servo Valve (EHSV) and Solenoid Operated Valve (SOV)? Also what is the difference between these two valves?

Basically, these two are used to control the hydraulic fluid in actuators. I am working on a aircraft program where SOV are used in Aileron, Elevator & Rudder actuators while EHSV are used in Multi-Function Spoilers [or just spoiler]. I think someone explains these two valve basics would provide me the reason for the selection of these valve to control the hydraulic actuators.

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    $\begingroup$ Someone else can probably provide a better answer, but the short version is that a SOV is either open or closed, providing on/off control for something while the EHSV can be commanded to be fully open, fully closed, or anywhere in between (usually via a variable voltage input or "pulses" of electricity to tell it to open or close by a fixed amount), providing control over "how much" instead of just on/off. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Jul 23, 2015 at 19:55

1 Answer 1


A solenoid is an induction-based actuator. In its simplest form it is a magnetic rod inside a coil of wire. Run a current through the wire and you create a magnetic field that creates a force on the rod, moving it one direction or the other. The force with which this occurs is proportional to the current through the inductor (audio speakers use this exact same principle to make the cone vibrate).

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A solenoid-operated valve usually functions as a simple gate; the solenoid mechanism pulls or pushes a simple flat valve allowing the fluid to pass through or not. It's technically possible, but not usually feasible, to use a solenoid as a variable valve; for it to be accurate would require very low friction so the current applied to the solenoid (and thus the force on the valve) could be varied to produce smooth variations in valve position.

Solenoid-operated valves are typically used as triggers for larger mechanisms, including the electrohydraulic servo valve.

An electrohydraulic servovalve uses electrical current to move a "flapper", similar to a solenoid. The flapper controls the flow of hydraulic fluid to one side or the other of a spool valve. That moves the spool valve, allowing the supply pressure to feed an actuator cylinder, moving it one way or the other. However, that same movement also allows hydraulic pressure to return up to the flapper, providing a countering hydraulic force to the electrical force that moved it, called "negative feedback". Eventually these forces balance, and the flapper re-centers, closing the spool valve. The net result is that the actuator cylinder has moved a certain set distance, proportional to the strength of the input current.

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These valves are used to provide smooth, high-strength motion in a hydraulic system. This type of valve, for instance, can be used to move the control surfaces of a large airliner, without requiring high-pressure hydraulic lines or tensioned cables to link the hydraulic system to the yoke in the cockpit. Instead, the yoke (or sidestick) controls the current through electrical wires leading to the EHSVs. That link is much easier to maintain (and cheaper to build in the first place) than older systems on previous generations of aircraft.


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