IoT Actuator Guide
IoT has gone from a novelty to an integral part of our daily lives. We increasingly rely on smart watches, smart refrigerators, smart TVs, smart desks, and more. In fact, the number of IoT devices worldwide has exceeded 13 billion.
As IoT devices proliferate, it becomes even more important to understand how the IoT ecosystem works. Every IoT system and device has multiple parts, including sensors, actuators, software, and more. We hear a lot about sensors, but very little about actuators.
So here we are going to explain how actuators are used in IoT, clarify how they differ from sensors, and list the most common actuators you will encounter in 2023. let's start.
What Is an Actuator in IoT?
An actuator is a device that converts energy into motion. It does this by taking electrical signals and combining them with energy. In IoT systems, actuators can act on data collected by sensors to create outcomes determined by user-selected settings.
What Are Sensors in IoT?
A sensor is a part of an IoT device or system that collects information about the environment. For example, temperature sensors in smart HVAC systems collect temperature data. In contrast, actuators in this system can trigger cooling or heating functions according to predetermined settings.
What Is the Difference Between Sensors and Actuators in IoT?
Essentially, actuators generate motion while sensors monitor environmental conditions. These conditions may include liquid level, temperature, vibration, or voltage.
The main characteristics between sensors and actuators can be further subdivided into the following points:
- Electrical Signals - Actuators rely on heat (in the case of thermal actuators) or kinetic energy (in the case of hydraulic and pneumatic actuators, etc.) to determine the resulting action. Sensors, on the other hand, work through electrical signals to read and record environmental conditions.
- Converting Direction - The actuator converts an electrical signal into a physical action. Sensors convert physical properties into electrical signals that inform the system of external conditions.
- Inputs and Outputs - Actuators track the output of machines and systems, while sensors receive input from the environment.
Different Actuator Types in IoT
Now that we have seen the difference between an actuator and a sensor, we will take a deeper look at the different actuators on the market and the functions they provide.
The sole function of an actuator in a hydraulic control system is to convert the hydraulic energy supplied by the pump and processed by the control element into useful work.
A pneumatic actuator is a device that converts energy (usually in the form of compressed air) into mechanical motion.
The application of pneumatic actuators in opening and closing valves is very attractive. They are especially useful in applications where there is a risk of ignition or fire since pneumatic actuators do not generate sparks.
Pneumatic actuators also go by several different names in the industry, including:
Electric actuators convert electrical energy into kinetic energy with linear (along a straight line) or rotary (circular) motion.
Electric actuator motors can run on any voltage, however, the most commonly used voltages are:
They are commonly used in industrial applications related to the manufacture of valves, pumps, and motors.
A thermal actuator is a non-electric motor. It is equipped with thermosensitive material, which can generate linear movement according to temperature changes. Temperature changes cause tasks such as releasing latches, operating switches, and opening or closing valves.
When used with other devices, thermal actuators do not require an external power source to generate motion. Thermal actuators are used in many applications and in many industries including aerospace, automotive, agriculture, solar, construction and manufacturing.
A magnetic actuator is a device that uses microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to convert electrical current into a mechanical output.
They operate in rotational or linear orientation and can have continuous or limited motion. Magnetic actuators are used in the aerospace, automotive industry, healthcare, computing, and many other industries.
A relay is a type of electrical switch. Most relays use electromagnets to mechanically operate the switch. However, other operating principles can also be used: for example, solid-state relays, which have no moving parts and rely entirely on light signals rather than mechanical switches to trigger changes.
A relatively small amount of power is required to operate the relay coil. However, it can still be used to control motors, heaters, lights or AC circuits.
Every day, more businesses and individuals are relying on IoT systems for everything from manufacturing to making their morning coffee. The more we learn about this useful technology, the more we can use it to improve the world around us. If you want to know more about actuators or you want to buy actuators, please contact us.
UG Controls is a custom valve actuators and accessories manufacturer. Its main business is the import and export of various automation equipment and technologies. For nearly 20 years, we have used our engineering expertise and industry experience to continuously improve our products, striving to provide efficient solutions at competitive prices. UG provides solutions for all industries including chemical, water, oil and gas, mining, power plants, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage and more.