Pneumatic vs Electrical actuators

The main difference between pneumatic and mechanical actuators is their working speed. The two systems are so distinct, that one can not replace the other with a drop-in. Each one has its own intrinsic benefits and disadvantages:

Advantages of Pneumatic actuators:

  • The pneumatic actuators ‘ greatest advantage is their failsafe operation. Through engineering the compressed spring, the designer will decide whether the valve will break, either closed or open, based on process protection.
  • Provide high power and speed, easy to adjust and independent of each other.
  • Most economical when the scale of deployment matches the capacity of the compressor.
  • Provide inherent safety and are ideal for explosive and hazardous environments.
  • Have a delayed response which makes them ideal for resilience to minor disruptions in source pressure changes

Limitations of Pneumatic actuators:

  • Maintenance and operating costs can be high, especially if there has been no serious effort to quantify and minimize the costs.

Advantages of Electrical actuator:

  • Provide precise power and placement as opposed to pneumatic actuators.
  • Response time is essentially instantaneous.
  • High degree of stability.
  • Cost of operation small. Controllers and low stress drivers use much less energy.
  • Help adapt machines to flexible processes.

Limitations of electrical actuator:

  • The main disadvantage of an electric actuator is that if a power failure happens, the valve stays in the last position and the fail-safe position can not be easily obtained unless a suitable supply of stored electrical energy exists.
  • Costs higher than pneumatic actuators. The total cost ranges between $800 and $3,000 and more.
  • The actuator must be in an area which is made safe. Not generally recommended for flame retardant atmospheres

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