Air Conditioning 101: What Does an AC Actuator Do?

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Air conditioners are convenient to have around the home and office as they provide cool air during the hot summer months, and warm air during cooler weather. These heating and cooling systems were made to have two functions at the same time, and the actuator motor helps keep the HVAC system working at its peak.

In this article, we'll see what an actuator is, and its importance in the HVAC system. We'll also include common problems of air conditioner actuators, and the cost of repairing the actuator to keep the air conditioning unit in good condition.

What is an Air Conditioner Actuator?

The actuator is a switch that controls the movement of hot and cold air depending on the settings on the thermostat. Actuators convert electric energy to mechanical energy, and in cooling systems, the actuator motor controls the opening and closing of air movement, redirecting cold or hot air into the home.

The actuator is an essential component in any AC system as it is directly responsible for airflow coming out of the unit. A faulty actuator cannot properly redirect the air coming from the blower motor out of the air conditioning unit, leading to faulty, weak, or inconsistent airflow.

Actuators contribute to the energy efficiency of air cooling systems as they optimize the flow and movement of air coming from the unit. Different types of actuators have different functions.

Types of AC Actuators

There are 4 types of actuators used in HVAC systems, while blend door actuators are typically used in vehicles. Vehicles may also use mode door actuator motors in their HVAC systems, but we're focusing on actuators used in home air conditioning systems.

  1. Spring Return On/Off Actuator - A fire & smoke damper was made to prevent the spread of fire and smoke. They are fire-resistant, and have fail-safe features in case of fires. These actuators are often used in air conditioners of buildings as they can prevent fire from spreading from room to room.
  2. Air Volume Modulating Actuator - This type of actuator motor controls supply air and the return air volume in AC units, providing fresh air indoors, while redirecting exhaust air outdoors. They typically consume low energy, and operate quietly.
  3. Chilled Water On/Off Actuator - Unlike spring return on/off actuators, the chilled water on/off actuator is water-resistant instead of fire-resistant. These actuators control chilled water flow around the HVAC unit, regulating the room temperature.
  4. PIBCV Modulating Actuator - These actuators are advanced versions of the chilled water on/off actuator, and prevent over- and under-cooling of spaces. These units conserve more energy than other types, and some models are programmable to fit the custom specifications of different spaces.

The most suitable type of actuator will depend on the size of the space where the HVAC is installed, as well as the function prioritized by the area owner. Location, size of the HVAC system, and model also factor in using the most appropriate type of actuator in a space.

Diagnosing a Faulty AC Actuator

#1 Faulty AC Actuator

Faulty actuators can be identified by inconsistent or weak airflow. This happens when the air conditioner actuator can no longer optimize and control the air flowing out of the unit, leading to inconsistent air movement. Our licensed technicians at Luce Aircon will be able to assess and repair the faulty actuator for you.

#2 No Airflow

If the HVAC system is not blowing any air at all, it can be due to a number of issues. A broken actuator is one of them, and this indicates that the actuator is in need of a replacement, which our technicians will be able to tackle for you.

Costs of AC Unit Actuator Replacement

The costs of actuator replacement may cost around $420 to $500 on average. The price will depend on the type of air conditioning unit and brand you have, and is exclusive of the professional fees that aircon services will charge. Replacing a faulty actuator motor keeps the air conditioner working properly.

Note: Prices may differ for the replacement of a bad blend door actuator or mode door actuator used in vehicles.

Luce Aircon - Your AC Partner!

Luce Aircon is your partner in all things air conditioner as our trained and licensed HVAC technicians are well-versed in cleaning, assessing, and repairing different types of air conditioners across various models and brands in Singapore! With Luce Aircon, maintaining your AC unit has never been more convenient.

Give us a call with your aircon concerns, and our technicians will get to the bottom of the issue! 

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