Valve actuators are fitted on valves and upon receiving a signal, they move the valve to a specific position by deriving power from an external source. Therefore, selecting the appropriate valve actuator is important. It will increase uptime, lower the maintenance costs and ensure plant safety. Modern-day valve actuators are lubricated and provide improved utility. They also come with position sensing tools, digital interaction capacity, and motor protection. Now, if you are wondering how to understand if the valve actuator is the ideal one, you have come to the right place. Go through the list of factors listed below to understand how to choose the right valve actuator. 

  • Emissions

People are becoming more and more environmentally conscious. If you too are one such person, you must prefer to buy an electric actuator because they don’t require gas for their functioning. Thus, there are no emissions released by electric valve actuators. 

  • Automation

The next factor to consider is the automation capability of the valve actuator. Electric actuators can automate valve functions. That’s a significant benefit! To put it in simple words, automation would allow engineers to monitor the working of the valve actuator even when offsite. 

  • Usage Factors

The purpose of the valve actuator will also affect your selection process. Consider the following things while selecting the right valve actuator: 

  • Compatibility

What are the sources of power available? Can the valve actuator derive power from that? If you don’t have a supply of electricity, buying a hydraulic or pneumatic valve actuator would be ideal. The former type of actuator uses water as the source of power, while the latter derives power from the air supply. 

  • Temperature Range

Consider the temperature at which the valve actuator will operate. Pneumatic actuators can operate in temperatures ranging from -4 to 150° F (-20 to 70°C). Sometimes the range of temperature can expand to -4 to 250° C. However, you have to ensure that the right grease, seals, and bearings are used. 

If you are buying an electric actuator, remember that they operate between -40 to 150°F (-40 to 65°C) temperature ranges. 

  • Hazardous Areas

People prefer to buy pneumatic actuators if they have to work in hazardous environments. This is so because pneumatic actuators are explosion-proof in nature. But, if the right air pressure isn’t available, electric actuators can also be used. However, make sure the actuator has a NEMA VII enclosure to protect it from exploding and endangering the lives of workers. 

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  • Force

Force refers to the amount of pressure required by the valve actuator to move the valve in a definite direction. Now to find out the force requirement of the valve, you have to consider some other factors like,

  1. Maximum and minimum supply pressure 
  2. Fail mode 
  3. Actuator mode 
  4. Valve torque
  • Size

Size is extremely important when it comes to choosing the appropriate valve actuator. 

If the actuator is small in size, it will fail to overcome the forces against it, thus causing irregular stroking. If the actuator is oversized,  it will definitely cost more, weigh more, and provide lesser utility. Bigger actuators also provide more thrust, which damages the internal components of the valve. Hence, ensuring that the actuator fits well on top of the valve is extremely important. 

  • Speed

The speed needed for the specific operation determines the speed requirement of the valve actuator. In this case, pneumatic valve actuators are easy to operate. Their speed can easily be controlled. Electric actuators, on the other hand, come with geared motors and therefore it’s difficult, rather impossible to monitor the speed of these actuators. 

  • Cost

Last but not the least, is the price of the valve actuator. Consider the feathers that you are getting and then decide if its price is actually justified. There are two major valve actuators that most people consider, electric actuators and pneumatic actuators. The upfront cost of the latter is lesser than that of the former. But, when it comes to emissions management, the former is better.

Keep these factors in mind and you are sure to buy the appropriate valve actuator that you need. Before proceeding to buy, gather some information on the various types of valve actuators available. It might come to use later.