How to Wire Up A Linear Actuator

Once you have decided to upgrade your device or mechanism with a linear actuator, another challenge appears. It is not about choosing or buying a powerful actuator. Nowadays, there are several stores and manufacturers that offer a variety of actuator products. The big challenge some of our customers face is how to wire up linear actuators. So, we decided to cover this topic and help you with a simple way to wire your actuators.

The Simplest Way to Wire a Linear Actuator

To control the mechanism, you need a switch. This is an element of an electric circuit that can interrupt the flow with a single press of a button. In most cases, there are 2 possible modes of these elements: The switch can be either ‘On’ when contact is closed, and an electric current can pass freely, or ‘Off’ when contact is open resulting in no movement. Respectively, when it’s on, the linear actuator can consume power, extend and retract, and when it’s off, no power is consumed, and the mechanism stops.

Types of Linear Actuator Switches

There are 2 kinds of switches you should be aware of – Mechanical and Electric. For the former type of switch, you must apply some physical effort to activate the switch. The Electronic switches, on the other hand, are activated with the help of a semiconductor.

Before you wire a linear actuator switch, take a closer look at the most popular types:

Rocker switch

Rocker switches will come in handy when wiring an actuator. You can choose between a Momentary Switch where the actuator moves when you press the button and stops immediately when the button is released and a Non-Momentary Switch, also known as a three-way switch. A Non-Momentary Switch will have three positions; extend, neutral/off, retract. Power will be removed when either switch is in the central neutral position.

Push button

This switch is one of the most popular ones. There are also Momentary and Non-Momentary switches in this style. The momentary switch is non-latching which means the power is on as long as you press a button. If you release the button, it will spring back to the off position the current is interrupted. The Non-Momentary switch is a latching switch, where once you press the button in, it will click and stay pressed in. To turn the switch off, you must press the button to release it, where it will then return to the original position.

A push button is built with immobile and mobile contacts. Immobile contacts are connected to the elements of the circuit and the movable ones are connected to a button. There are 2 types of push buttons: Open, closed, and double acting ones. The third type helps to control 2 circuits.

Toggle switch

Almost everybody knows about these type of switches as they are the most commonly used to turn household lights on and off. A mechanical handle pushes a switch up or down in order to interrupt the electric current. They are suitable for switching both low and high current applications. No matter what size or style you need, you can find the toggle switch model that meets your needs precisely.

Pressure switch

In the industrial field, pressure switches beat the competitors. Mainly, they find their application in hydraulic and pneumatic systems. Depending on pressure, there are several types of pressure switches.

Joystick switch

Joystick switches are commonly used for machinery purposes. In this type of switch, a lever moves in several axis of motion. This is a nice option if you need to lift or lower the load, move it to the right or to the left.

How to wire up a linear actuator to a timer

Using a timer, you minimize manual actions. Setting the time range for actuator’s extension and retraction is all that’s needed. No coding is required: the internal clock will control the whole mechanism.

In general, the wiring process depends on the type of timer you choose. Here are some basic steps to help you wire up a linear actuator to a timer:

  • Build a half bridge by connecting a relay to an actuator
  • Set the default position: An actuator should be retracted
  • Connect a timer using its wiring pods: Power “ON” mode should coincide with a relay activation process
  • Test actuator movements
  • Set the time frames of extension and retraction by following the instructions on the timer’s screen

Things You Need to Wire Up An Actuator

Now, let’s dive deeper into the topic of how to wire a 12-volt linear actuator. This is one of the most popular and actively used actuator types, so we decided to pay close attention to it. To Begin, make sure you have the following parts:

  • A power supply which provides a 12-volt input voltage. Ensure that this power supply has the current rating that is compatible with the linear actuator being used.
  • A complete wiring kit, a set of black and red wires, connectors, and fuse holders to connect all the essential parts
  • Switch which is required to control the current flow
  • Protector
  • Linear actuator

Blue or black wires must be connected to the negative terminals, and the red ones to positive sides. Keep in mind that the power supply’s characteristics should meet the amperage demands of the actuator.

Wiring Up an Actuator: Step by Step Instruction

Here are 8 steps you need to take:

  1. Cut the wires: The length of each piece should allow reaching the battery
  2. Make sure the wires you will connect to the actuator are loose
  3. Connect the wires to the switch
  4. Find the specific connection points on the jumpers and attach the wires there
  5. Find the connection points on the opposite side, and join them to the same wires
  6. Connect the chosen switch to the protector, then repeat the procedure on the opposite side
  7. Join 2 connectors to the wires and attach to the power supply
  8. Follow the instructions described in the linear actuator wire diagram

Wiring Diagram

In our example, we use the rocker switch. It has 6 terminals you should connect to wire up the actuator. Here’s the diagram describing a process:

Progressive Automations

  1. Connect the negative terminal of the power supply to the T3
  2. Connect terminals number 3 and 4
  3. Connect the positive side of the power supply to the T6
  4. Take a second wire and join T6 with T1
  5. Wires from T2 and T5 connected to the actuator will be the finishing stage

Before you implement the above steps for your application, test it carefully and ensure everything works the way you want it to work. If the actuator moves in the opposite direction, just reverse the polarity.

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