Efficient heating of buildings has become a challenge for builders. It is no longer just about keeping the occupants warm. Much more counts: adapting the temperature to the function of the rooms, low heating fuel consumption, long service life of the system, convenient operation. All of this translates into money savings, environmental protection and a better quality of life. Our everyday comfort, the running costs of the house and the ecological future of the planet depend on the heating system installed in the building. A lot of work to be done… Therefore, modern heating systems must work efficiently. To make this possible, they should be equipped with durable and safe heating medium flow control elements. One such component is the thermoelectric actuator.
The thermoelectric actuator is used to control the heating system – underfloor as well as radiator. It makes it possible to open and close the flow of the heating medium (e.g. hot water) in the loop, providing control over the temperature in the building. It can be used both on valve inserts at radiators and on radiator and floor manifolds.
However, it is important to note that some actuator models will only work on specific valve inserts (look for this information in the instructions, product sheet). Modern actuators work with room thermostats (temperature controllers) and central control boards.
In summary, thermoelectric actuators are mainly installed to control the operation of individual zones of the heating system.
The principle of operation is not complicated, it is enough to visualise it. The basic function of a thermoelectric actuator is to press and release the valve stem of the respective heating circuit. Basically it looks like this (example for NC actuators): When no control voltage is applied (so-called no-voltage condition), the actuator presses the valve stem – the valve is closed (heating medium does not flow through the circuit, no heating). When the control voltage appears, the actuator releases the stem – the valve opens (the heating medium flows through the circuit and heats the room). This control mechanism, although simple, is crucial for efficient heating operation.
It is easy to see that reliable actuator performance is key to the correct and efficient operation of the entire heating control system. When choosing thermoelectric actuators for your home (or a customer’s home), there are a few things to consider.
Firstly, the fit with the installation you have: the actuators need to work with the rest of the heating system. First of all, therefore, you need to check that they match the valves. An important parameter here is the actuator stroke (in mm). This determines which thermostatic inserts (manifolds) the actuator is compatible with. The greater the stroke, the greater the certainty that the unit will work with a particular insert. That is, that it will be able to open the insert (valve) enough to provide flow and also close it so that there is 100% no flow.
Secondly, the type of actuator in terms of the no-voltage condition. On the market, we will buy either NO – normally open actuators (in the voltage-free state the valve is open, the voltage closes the valve) or (and there are more of these) NC – normally closed actuators. Here, in the de-energised state, the valve is closed, the voltage opens the valve and starts the heating.
Thirdly, the supported voltage. Most actuators are designed for 230V, but this should be checked before purchase.
Fourthly, the operating current consumption: it should not exceed 5W. It is better if it is lower.
Fifthly, opening time: remember that actuators have a delayed action. The best quality units start up in less than 3 minutes.
Sixthly, the status indicator. Seemingly nothing essential, but it makes all the difference. It lets you know whether the valve is open or closed at any given time.
And finally, seventhly, additional installation convenience. It is worth noting whether the product you are interested in has a first open function. If so, the unit is in the open position on first installation, allowing fluid to flow and pressure testing to be carried out without removing the actuator. This streamlines the installation.
Our actuators are some of the most highly regarded devices on the market for controlling the heating flow in the circuits of a surface (floor) system. They are durable, safe, simple to operate. They are small in size, consume little power (only 2W) and the first installation is facilitated by the aforementioned first open function. Further advantages are their fast opening time (about 2 minutes) and a stroke of more than four millimetres. With a stroke of 4.5 mm, the actuator will work well with virtually any thermostatic insert available in Polish shops. ENGO Controls underfloor heating manifold actuators also have a clearly visible element indicating the status of the device; open or closed.