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How to Know the Right Amp for a 12V Linear Actuator Power Supply?

Posted on July 03, 2020 by Anna

Linear drives do not work by themselves. To use them, you need to obtain a linear actuator power supply of direct or alternating current, ensuring the power supply is compatible and correctly connected to you actuator. To combat any confusion around the ‘correct’ amp to use, in this article, we are going to discuss how to choose the right type of device for your 12-volt electric actuator.

Power Supply Options for a DC-powered 12 Volt Actuators

For 12V electric actuators, the following power supply options are available but not limited to:

  • Stationary or portable 12V battery.
  • 12-volt 5A AC/DC supply.
  • 12-volt 30A AC/DC supply.

The bulk of the linear drives available in retail have the same voltage rating of 12V (there are also 24V models that require voltage converters to be used with the power supplies mentioned above).

To understand what kind of power supply option you need, you will need to carefully study the technical specifications of your 12-volt linear actuator model. The first thing to note is the maximum consumed current, measured in amperes. Multiply this indicator by the total number of drives that you plan to use in the system. As a result, you will get the nominal amperage your power source should have the ability to supply.

Different size linear actuators

AC vs DC Power Supplies

The vast majority of electrical appliances today are AC-powered. This is primarily due to the fact that it is easier to convert alternating current from a lower voltage to a higher one, and vice versa for transportation over long distances. In addition, in the case of direct current, there is an additional complexity associated with the voltage regulation. In turn, the ease of AC voltage control, among other things, allows adjusting the torque and power of the connected drives.

However, this is all theoretical. If we talk about practice, then your choice of a direct or alternating current power supply should be focused on how and where you plan to operate your actuators. For instance, it is easier to transmit DC over short distances as it does not incur the losses due to reactive power and spreads over the entire area of the conductor. In contrast, alternating current is forced out to the edges.

Another point to consider is that from the user's point of view, AC does not have polarity. Of course, there is a difference between the ‘phase’ and ‘zero’ wires, but not for those who plan to operate an AC-powered device.

If there is no stationary power outlet at the installation point, you do not have much choice: you will need a direct current source. It can be an automotive accumulator or compact batteries. This approach is chosen mainly for systems that do not have to work continuously and do not consume a lot of power.

5A vs 30A Power Supplies

A 12V converter with a current rating of 5A that converts alternating current into the direct current is excellent for systems that do not need to be moved. In this case, you just plug your device into a common power outlet, with the system working for as long as you require without requiring periodical recharges. Since the current is quite small (only 5 amperes), such a power supply is usually used to power only one small 12V actuator.

If your system is only using one linear 12-volt actuator, it is better to just use a 12-volt DC actuator power supply. Such systems consume minimal power, which means they can be portable and not depend on the location of the outlets. For large stationary systems that require a 12-volt actuator motor or several, you can use a 12V AC power source with an output current of up to 30A. These are stationary and plugged into common electric outlets. However, such a powerful device needs to be configured, and beginners may have problems using it. You will need to set the input AC voltage - 110V or 240V. You will then need to set the maximum current strength (as a rule, no more than 5 amperes per drive). Only then can you connect the actuators to a power source, and the power source to the wiring.

Ensure to be mindful of all safety precautions when operating these devices and power supplies. Isolate the device to prevent any access of children and animals to its inner circuits, as they can inadvertently suffer serious injuries from the contact with electricity.

12V - 5A Battery for Linear Actuators

Powering 12 Volt Actuators: Stationary or Portable Batteries?

Compact solutions employing a 12-volt DC linear actuator are typically powered by portable batteries. However, the vast majority of systems are stationary, making it better to supply AC power with a system using power transformers directly from the electrical network. Another viable option is energizing the 12V electric linear actuator with stationary batteries through the converter that creates AC out of provided DC power.

Waterproof 12 Volt Lift Actuator Power Supplies

In some cases, for your battery-powered actuator, you may need a waterproof power supply. When choosing one, carefully study the labeling. In particular, check the Ingress Protection (IP) rating, which precisely determines the factor of protection against water and dust.

The first IP figure represents the degree of protection against solid objects and dust, and the second indicates how much the gadget is protected against liquid. Look for devices with the second number of five or higher. In this case, you will be sure that the battery can withstand strong water jets or even operate when completely immersed. The best waterproof options for 30A 12V DC actuators are devices with an IP68 protection label. You will also have to remember that insulating elements must withstand voltages above 110V.

Waterproof linear actuator by Progressive Automations

Conclusion

As you can see, 12V power supplies for linear actuators differ in the nominal current - 5A or 30A, and type - AC or DC. The power supply to use depends on the power and physical requirements for the system; if your contraption is portable DC would be better, while stationary installations are best powered by AC. We hope that this article will help you figure out the technical specifications for the power source most suitable in your case.

If you are looking for a power supply for 12-volt electric rams, visit the 12V Actuators website. Our product lineup contains qualitative devices that will serve you for years. We also provide extensive warranty conditions for our equipment, so you can be sure that it will never let you down.

If you want to know more about the possible applications of linear actuators and further insight into products and their uses, check our blog.

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