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Electric vs. Traditional Actuator: What’s the Difference?

Electric vs. Traditional Actuator: What’s the Difference?

Car enthusiasts everywhere love modifying and adjusting their vehicles to their liking. Not only can they completely overhaul anything they want, but they can also transform the entire car into something unique. That’s where turbochargers come in.

Turbochargers provide numerous benefits to gas and diesel engines. Whether you’re looking to improve your sedan or a bus, installing a turbocharger is a fantastic benefit for fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions. The actuator is one of the most vital parts of the turbocharger. But what is an actuator, and what’s the difference between electric and traditional actuators? Let’s find out.

What’s an Actuator?

An actuator is a pressure-relief valve that controls the turbo boost’s output. It protects the turbine wheel of the turbocharger by diverting excess exhaust gas. Additionally, actuators help control turbine speeds while regulating compressor speeds, preventing the unit from overwhelming itself.

An actuator consists of two parts: a diaphragm and a spring. The spring keeps the wastegate shut until the boost pressure reaches a specific level. After reaching the required pressure, it opens and allows gas to escape, thus reducing boost pressure. Almost all turbochargers have actuators that are fitted to the unit and used as a safeguard to prevent severe or irreparable damages.

Electric Actuator

An electric actuator works by providing easier access to energy, faster transmission signal times, and emitting transmission distance. This allows for operating control concentration, meaning accuracy and electric adjustments are easier and more convenient. Additionally, it has easy wiring installation.

However, there are a few downsides to electric turbo actuators. Electric actuators don’t produce the same amount of power as other actuators and are not explosion-proof. Additionally, they have sensitivities to vibration and require more complex technology to operate.

Traditional Actuator

As previously mentioned, traditional actuators maintain turbocharger pressure and prevent it from entering the turbine wheel. These actuators help control speed levels and prevent as much wear as possible. They come standard with most turbochargers on the market and allow for easy replacement.

However, actuators can experience a few problems here and there. Pressure and heat eventually take their toll on the turbocharger, resulting in the wastegate opening sooner than it should. Additionally, the diaphragm can fail, and the valve can stop opening, leading to rising pressure and catastrophic damage.

Major Differences

So, what are the differences between electric and traditional actuators? Although electric actuators allow for easier installation and control accuracy, traditional actuators are more reliable and easier to come by for replacements.

If you understand the operation and requirements your turbo must meet, both actuators can be appropriate options for your turbo. Keep your user’s manual close by when making this decision, and contact a mechanic for questions.


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