What Is a Water Actuator?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 30 December 2019
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A water actuator is a device that is meant to open and close some type of hydraulic valve. These actuators are found in industrial applications, certain heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and are often located in refrigerators as well. One common example of these actuators is in chilled water HVAC systems. These systems typically use electronic actuators to permit chilled water to move through the system or stop the flow, effectively controlling the temperature in a building or a more confined space. Another common example of a water actuator is the paddle that some refrigerators use to dispense filtered or chilled water on demand.

Actuators are devices that are used to control other components, such as valves. The main purpose of an actuator is to take one form of energy and convert it into motion. Some examples include electric actuator motors that use electricity to turn a rotary valve, or a mechanical actuator such as a screw that converts between linear and rotary motion. Actuators that are used to control the flow of water are found in various industrial applications, water treatment facilities, and many other areas. In general, any application that makes use of hydraulic valves requires some type of water actuator to control flow.


One common use for a water actuator is in a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems that uses heated or chilled water. These systems circulate water throughout a building or another confined space, and use heat transfer to control the temperature. Electric water actuators are usually used to control the flow of water. Some data centers use a similar system, where chilled water is piped into a server room to keep the temperature down. In this case a water actuator is also used to permit the flow of cool water when it is necessary.

Another use for water actuators is refrigerators that include in-door water and ice dispensers. These water actuators typically take the form of a paddle component that is connected to a knife or ball valve inside the fridge door. When a glass is pressed up against the paddle component, it causes the valve to open. That in turn allows water to flow out of the dispenser and into the glass. This is an example of a mechanical actuator, since the paddle acts as a lever, and converts the energy generated by pressing the glass against it into the motion necessary to open the valve.


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