What is the difference between an actuator and a valve?
There are two components which are heavily relied on in the manufacturing and industrial sectors; the actuator and the valve. While related, actuators and valves serve very difference functions. So, what is the difference between an actuator and a valve?
What does an actuator do?
An actuator is an implement that is built into the valve housing which dictates when the valve will open or close, through the use of a controller system. There are some different types of actuators to choose from, depending on the application in which it will be used. A few examples of actuator types are manual linear actuators, rotary actuators, and fluid power rotary actuators.
What does a valve do?
The primary job of a valve is to control the flow of a fluid or gas within a line. There is an array of valve types, and each one operates uniquely, however, in the end, the core principles are the same. Some of the most common valve styles are 2-way valves and 3-way valves, both of which operate with either air pressure, electrical current, or hydraulic fluid.
What is the Difference Between a Valve and an Actuator?
As it has been shown, valves and actuators are two completely separate components; but they do work together to accomplish a common task. Therefore, it can be said that a valve is a physical part of a system that opens and closes to dictate the amount of fluid being allowed to pass through, while the actuator tells the valve when to operate.
For instance, in a heated flooring system, fluids of varying temperatures are pumped beneath the floor structure to help maintain a predetermined temperature. And while the system will work with only a valve, there will be no way to control the functioning of the valve, other than by manual methods. This would mean that a person would have to continually monitor the temperature of the floor, adjusting the valve when changes are necessary.
But, if an actuator is installed with the valve, the actuator can be set, through the use of a computer controller, to open and close the valve at a specific time or to meet certain criteria, and in this case, the criteria would be the fluid temperature.
Often valves and actuators are mistakenly considered to be the same thing, but in fact, they are two very different components. While a valve is used to control the amount of fluid or gas flowing through a pipe, it must either be set in a specific position or manually controlled. With the use of an actuator, which is an implement that is installed directly into the valve, the valve can be programmed to open and close at specific intervals.
The actuator is typically controlled by a computer system that uses various sensors which dictate the action of the actuator and thus the valve. In the end, valves and actuators are completely separate components in a fluid transfer system, but they are used together to achieve a single goal.