How do you control high-speed linear actuators?
How do you control high-speed linear actuators?

How do you control high-speed linear actuators?

In the current market, there are a large variety of linear actuators, each capable of widely varying speeds. Depending on how fast you need your linear actuator to be, you have the ability to choose which one fits your project exactly. Controlling the speed of a linear actuator can be done using different methods, with these methods varying according to the rate you are trying to achieve. In this article, we have outlined what you need to know when attempting to control the speed of your linear actuator. We also take you through what high-speed models we have available and when an actuator can be labeled ‘high-speed’.

What is an Ultra-High-Speed Linear Actuator?

There is no specific industry norm that can label different actuator types on their speed. However, there are guidelines that various productions abide by when labeling an electric linear actuator high speed. Some of these factors include the type of actuator you have, where it’s going to be used, and its type of drive mechanism. These specifications have an influence when labeling a high-speed linear actuator.

High-Speed Linear Actuator Models


While 5”/sec is considered a fast speed for actuators, there are linear actuators capable of reaching faster. Take the PA-15, for example, is a super-high-speed linear actuator capable of reaching up to 9.05"/sec. With 9.05”/sec as its fastest speed, the PA-15’s slowest pace is 3.20"/sec; a rate of speed that is still considered quite impressive.

Infographic of the linear actuator PA-15 by Progressive Automations


If your project requires a smaller sized actuator, you do have other options. A high-speed miniature linear actuator would be the PA-14 whose no-load speed is 2.00”/sec. This linear actuator is an example of speed and small size that works together for functionality. There are also high-speed micro linear actuators available that are tiny enough for smaller jobs if the miniature linear actuator isn’t suitable.

Infographic of the linear actuator PA-14 by Progressive Automations


For jobs with a high force that can handle heavier weights, there are specific linear actuators available such as industrial actuators. For instance, the PA-17 is a reliable high-speed high force linear actuator that can produce high speeds when comparing its force capacity and industry averages.

Infographic of the linear actuator PA-17 by Progressive Automations

Linear Actuator Speed Control: DC Speed Controllers

Each linear actuator comes with a specific range when it comes to inches per second, running on the amount of power fueled into them. Some models, such as our PA-10, can get faster with an increased voltage and slower with a decreased voltage (although this rule does not apply to all). To control the energy, and speed, you would need DC Speed Controller. With these speed controllers, you can control the speed of an actuator from its maximum speed rate to zero. DC motor controllers cannot increase the limitations of the actuator’s speed. For example, a PA-14 with a speed of 2.00”/sec, can be controlled from 0 to 2”/sec using the DC speed controllers. But this speed cannot surpass 3”/sec if required with this device. Alongside DC speed controllers, there are various other types of variable speed actuators, allowing you to play a hand in controlling their pace.

Photo of the control-box by Progressive Automations


High-Speed Linear Actuators and Potentiometers

A high-speed linear actuator with a potentiometer has speed that is easy to control. A potentiometer’s purpose is to measure voltage, but its primary goal is to act as a position transducer. When a linear actuator has a potentiometer, you have the option of switching it to different speed options like one would when switching the gears in a car. An excellent example of a potentiometer would be the 12-24 VDC Synchronized Dual Potentiometer. It cannot consistently control the speed of a linear actuator through the level of energy, but instead, it saves presets.

Photo of the synchronized dual potentiometer actuator control by Progressive Automations

 High-Speed Linear Actuators with Feedback

Another type of linear actuator would be a high-speed linear actuator with feedback. This type can change the position with controls, and with this feature, it makes the linear actuator adjustable. This allows the linear actuator to be modified according to different applications where the feedback is needed. The PA-14P is an example of a high-speed linear actuator with feedback. However, there are multiple types of actuator feedback, each made to serve a different purpose.

12-Volt High-Speed Linear Actuator

With a high-speed electric linear actuator, they can be categorized by the input voltage they have. The majority of Actuator Zone high-speed linear actuators have 12v (or 12 volts). These high-speed force linear actuators give more thrust force. A high speed 12-volt linear actuator can come in different types along with different sizes. When you are selecting this type of linear actuator, there are two things to consider: thrust and actuator stroke length.

Low-Speed Linear Actuators

While determining what is considered a high-speed linear actuator isn’t a black and white process, the same can be said for low-speed actuators. However, actuators that have 1”/sec and below are generally classified in the slower category. Depending on the job or project you have, a slower linear actuator may be better suited than a high-speed version.

Infographic of the linear actuator PA-100 by Progressive Automations


An example of a slower linear actuator would be a PA-100. The speed of this linear actuator is 0.06"/sec - 0.12"/sec, with 0.12”/sec being the fastest and 0.6”/sec as the slowest.


There are a large variety of linear actuators, each different capabilities, and specifications. From this article, we hope you gained a better insight into which linear actuators may fit your needs, and if more speed is required you are equipped with the appropriate knowledge.

If you need advice or other help with your project, contact us. We have huge experience and a wide selection of actuators to choose from, and we are always ready to consult you.

Anna Sapiga

AZ Engineer