Home - Media-News-How Many Types of Directional Control Valves Are There?

How Many Types of Directional Control Valves Are There?

Why Directional Control Valves are Necessary


Directional control valves play a pivotal role in hydraulic or pneumatic systems, serving as essential components. They are alternatively referred to as bang-bang or discrete valves. These valves dictate the fluid flow direction within a circuit, primarily facilitating actions such as initiating, halting, accelerating, decelerating, or altering motion direction in actuators. Moreover, the utilization of directional control valves offers additional advantages, including:


  • To isolate a certain branch of a circuit

  • Bypass valves or return-line filters

  • Deny flow in one direction

  • Protect hydraulic components against surges in pressures


Most directional control valves employ a spool-type design, where a spool regulates fluid flow by connecting internal passages and ports. This spool comprises lands and undercuts encased within precision-machined housing. As the spool shifts, it opens and closes flow paths by manipulating the lands and undercuts. Spool-type valves are favored due to their capability to shift to two, three, or more positions, enabling the routing of fluid among various combinations of inlet and outlet ports. Ports, often termed as "ways," denote the number of lines entering and exiting the valve. For instance, 4-way, 3-position valves are common configurations.

 Directional Control Valves

The actuator serves as the mechanism responsible for adjusting the position of the spool in a directional control valve (DCV). There are four primary methods of actuation:


1. Manual operation: The spool is manually shifted by manipulating a handle, pressing a button, or engaging a foot pedal.


2. Mechanical operation: The spool is shifted through mechanical linkages such as cams and rollers.


3. Solenoid operation: Energizing an electric coil or solenoid creates a magnetic force that pulls the armature into the coil, thereby pushing the spool of the valve. It's important to note that solenoids alone may not be robust enough to move a DCV spool when fluid flow exceeds 25 gpm and cannot generate significant forces without substantial electrical power. Nevertheless, they are widely utilized.


4. Pilot operation: Pilot pressure is initiated when fluid pressure within a fluid power system shifts the spool to its intended position. By applying a pilot signal (for hydraulic or pneumatic systems) against a piston at either end of the valve spool, pilot pressure is introduced, prompting the piston to shift the spool.


Another important consideration is the center position. There are four types: open, closed, tandem, and float. Open-center position DCVs are typically used in applications where there is only one cylinder in the hydraulic system.


On the other hand, a closed-center position directional control valve (DCV) enables a hydraulic system to operate with multiple actuators, each functioning independently. In contrast, a tandem-center position DCV is employed to maintain the piston within a cylinder at a desired position while enabling fluid flow redirection back to the reservoir without necessitating the activation of a relief valve. Industrial directional control valves typically offer two, three, or four positions, although some models may feature five or six positions.


The utilization of directional control valves is indispensable across industries reliant on hydraulic circuits. Any machinery incorporating a motor relies on these valves. Moreover, machine functions can be entirely automated by integrating directional control components with hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, or electronic control circuits.

Directional Control Valves