A Short Guide to the Different Types of Actuators for Valves

We’re so dependent on actuators that demand is set to drive the global market growth to be worth 74.5 billion by 2024. Technical advancements, aircraft industry growth, emerging economies are all fueling this growing demand. 

There are several types of actuators, and depending on the industry. Each one has its ideal application. 

Keep reading to learn about the most common types of actuators.

Manual Actuators 

A manual actuator gets its power from someone physically moving a gear, wheel, or lever. These are the least technical type and the most affordable. 

These actuators aren’t a viable option when the valve is somewhere that’s not easily accessible or needs to be faster than what a human can move. 

Pneumatic Actuators 

When air or gas pressure forces the movement of the actuator, then it’s pneumatic. They’re most often seen on linear or quarter-turn valves. They act like a piston or bellows where the pressure builds to create the movement. 

You may also see them in spring action valves. In this application, the pressure builds to overcome the holding power of the spring.

The spring then gets compressed to either open or close the valve. When the pressure releases, the spring action triggers the valve to either “spring closed” or Spring open”. 

Hydraulic Actuators

These actuators use liquid to create the power to move the valve. Similar to the pneumatic actuators work, the fluid creates and builds the pressure to trigger the piston and create a linear thrust. 

These actuators usually come with safety guards built-in. If the pressure builds too much, then the emergency valve will automatically open to release the pressure. 

You could have a self-contained pressure pump for the actuator’s function. Or you could have a water pumping station that creates pressure through the process fluid. 

You must use the correct fluid that’s compatible with the materials used to create the actuator and valve. 

Electric Actuators 

These actuators get their namesake from the electric motor that powers the actuator. The motor provides torque that creates the force to move the valve. 

These actuators have a quieter operation, are energy efficient, and non-toxic. Their one downside is that you need to have an electric power supply or batteries to run these actuators. 


These actuators can only operate once. So once they’re triggered, the spring releases and the valve is operated. 

These valves tend to have emergency applications since they need resetting each time they get triggered. One benefit of these valves is that they need a limited power supply. You can even have them set to trigger when the power supply gets cut. 

Different Types of Actuators for Different Uses 

No matter what your need or intended use, we can help you locate the right valve fittings for your system. We carry several types of actuators to ensure that our clients can get what they need to reduce downtime and increase productivity. 

Take a look at our catalog for a solution to all of your valve and fitting needs.