Valve actuators are mechanical devices that open and close valves to allow or stop the flow of a fluid through a system. They are available in many variations, each of which offers different advantages and disadvantages that make it suitable for distinct applications. Two of the most commonly used types are pneumatic actuators and electric actuators. Pneumatic actuators utilize compressed air to operate valves, while electric actuators use an electric motor. Below, we go more in-depth on the differences between the two to help readers choose the best one for their application.
Electric vs. Pneumatic Actuators
The main differences between electric and pneumatic actuators are with regard to the following:
- Power source. Electric actuators depend on an electric motor and electrical wiring for their operation. Pneumatic actuators rely on a compressed air line for their operation.
- Speed. Electric actuators can take up to and exceed 2 minutes to open/close a valve, depending on the manufacturer. Pneumatic actuators can operate in ½ to ¼ second to open/close a valve, depending on the manufacturer.
- Temperature. Electric actuators are generally rated for temperature between 40° F and 150° F. Pneumatic actuators are typically rated for a wider range of temperatures (-20° F to 350° F).
- Durability. Both electric and pneumatic actuators can be used both indoors and outdoors and can operate in extremely harsh environments.
- Cost. Pneumatic actuators have a lower cost than electric actuators only when used for open and close operations, where modulation is not required. Whereas electric actuators, including 4-20 control modulation, can be less expensive than IP positioners on pneumatic actuators.
Benefits of Electric Actuators
Some of the key benefits of using electric actuators over pneumatic actuators include:
- Better suitability for precise control
- Available in 115/230/24 VAC
- Quieter operation
Benefits of Pneumatic Actuators
Some of the key benefits of using pneumatic actuators over electric actuators include:
- Higher durability (made for harsh environments)
- Faster cycle times
- Greater availability in failsafe variations
Applications for Electric and Pneumatic Actuators
Electric actuators and pneumatic actuators find application in a wide range of industries, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Chemical processing
- Food and beverage processing
- Power generation
- Water and wastewater treatment
Actuators From Baelz North America
Want more information on electric and pneumatic actuators to help you choose the right component for your needs? Download Baelz North America’s eBook, “Pneumatic vs. Electric Actuators: Choosing the Right One for Your Industrial Heating Process.” Alternatively, you can ask the Baelz experts directly. As a premier supplier of quality control components, including actuators, we can answer and address any questions or concerns you may have about these products. Additionally, if you’re looking for a supplier for your next project, we’ve got you covered. We offer a broad selection of high-performance actuators to suit various customer applications. We provide professional project management to help you with all of your process needs.