The Difference Between Electrical, Hydraulic, and Pneumatic Actuators

Electrical, Hydraulic, and Pneumatic actuators are used primarily for operating many different types of valves. These three types of actuators are employed for running many types of mechanical and high-tech devices. Industries that use actuators may include HVACR, petrochemical, automotive, aerospace, medical, heavy equipment, material handling, manufacturing, industrial process, marine, defense, etc. Choosing the correct actuator depends on the actual application and the power input sources that are available.

Actuators are either motors that turn valves and other devices or solenoid piston or plungers that primarily operate valves. Motorized actuators require only momentary power to open or close the device, or open or close it partially. These actuators are slower in response to plunger type solenoids or fluid pistons. Piston type valves or up down or in out devices may require constant power, but operate very quickly.

The HVAC industry uses actuated valves primarily for controlling supply, heating, and cooling water for commercial heating systems. Most of these valves are two-way or three-way ball valves. In most HVAC and plumbing applications, these valves are electrically powered by AC from 24 to 240 volts. These electrically operated valves get their input power from programmable control panels that get operator input programming, input from thermostats, aquastats, encoders, building energy management systems, and other external devices. These actuated valves are slower reacting but meet the needs of most systems. IARGLOBAL and IARDEALS buy and sell a wide variety of motorized actuated valves.

Pneumatic actuators require an air compressor that supplies regulated dehydrated air at 50 to 200PSI. Hydraulic actuators require a hydraulic pump that supplies pressurized oil from 100 to 5,000 PSI. Hydraulic actuators have typically more power than electrical and pneumatic system, and are used primarily on heavy equipment and large industrial applications.
HydPneumatics images

4 Replies to “The Difference Between Electrical, Hydraulic, and Pneumatic Actuators”


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