Directional Control Valve Center Options | Magister Hydraulics
Directional Control Valve Center Options | Magister Hydraulics

Directional Control Valve Centers

Directional control valves are an important component in hydraulic systems, allowing operators to control the flow of fluid and the direction of movement in various hydraulic machinery. The center options of directional control valves refer to the configuration of the valve when the spool is in the neutral or centered position. There are four main directional control valve center options: open center, closed center, tandem center, and float center. Each has its own advantages and is suitable for different applications.

Four-way three-position hydraulic directional control valves come with four common valve center options:

Open Center:

  • In an open center configuration, the fluid flow returns to the reservoir when the valve is in the neutral position.
  • This type of center is common in applications where constant hydraulic power is not required and energy conservation is a priority.
  • Open center systems are typically more straightforward and cost-effective, making them suitable for applications like agricultural equipment.

Closed Center:

  • Closed center systems maintain constant pressure in the hydraulic system, even when the valve is in the neutral position.
  • The closed center design is more energy-efficient as it minimizes the need to circulate fluid back to the reservoir in neutral, which can be advantageous in applications where a consistent power supply is essential.
  • Closed center configurations are often found in industrial and mobile hydraulic systems, such as construction equipment and manufacturing machinery.


Tandem Center:

  • Tandem center valves feature a unique design that provides constant pressure while allowing fluid to circulate freely in the neutral position.
  • This configuration offers a compromise between the open and closed center options, providing both energy efficiency and the ability to redirect fluid flow as needed.
  • Tandem center valves are commonly used in applications that require a balance between energy conservation and quick response times, such as some types of mobile machinery.

Float Center

  • The float center configuration in directional control valves allows for unrestricted fluid flow between the working ports, allowing hydraulic actuators to move freely in response to external forces.
  •  In the float center position, the valve permits hydraulic fluid to circulate freely, offering adaptability to external forces without building up pressure. This feature is particularly useful in applications where the hydraulic system needs to act as a passive participant, accommodating external forces such as gravity or manual input. 
  • Float center valves find common use in mobile hydraulic machinery, providing flexibility and responsiveness to varying conditions without the need for active hydraulic power, making them suitable for scenarios where adaptability and fluid movement are essential.

Selecting the appropriate center option depends on the specific requirements of the hydraulic system and the application. Factors such as energy efficiency, response time, and the nature of the load being controlled play a significant role in determining the most suitable directional control valve center option for a given hydraulic system. Additionally, it’s crucial to consider the overall system design, including pump type, actuators, and other components, to ensure compatibility and optimal performance.

If you have any additional questions or need help choosing a control valve, do not hesitate to contact Magister Hydraulics customer service.

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