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How to Wire a 12 Volt Linear Actuator

How to Wire a 12 Volt Linear Actuator

Adam Morissette
Adam Morissette
PA Engineer

The most common electrical linear actuator used in the industry today is the 12VDC version. The function of a linear actuator is quite simple; it moves an object in a linear motion but depends on how you wire the unit, you can control it in many different ways. In this article, we will go over 12-volt linear actuator wiring (common methods used) and a basic understanding of how an actuator works.

12-Volt DC Linear Actuator

First, we will look at how a DC motor works in a linear actuator. A DC motor has two input terminals, one positive and one negative. In normal operation, the user can connect the positive terminal to the +12VDC output of the power supply, and the negative terminal to the Ground of the power supply. The motor will rotate as the DC current pass through the copper winding of the motor. That causes the lead screw to rotate and push the shaft rod into a linear motor through the screw nut. By the same logic, when the user reverses the polarity of the connection, the DC motor will rotate in the opposite direction, and cause the shaft to move in the reverse direction.

Wiring with a Rocker Switch

12 Volt Linear Actuator

The simplest control system for a 12VDC linear actuator for a user to implement will have to be a DPDT (double pole double throw) rocker switch. It can output DC current in both directions from the power supply, therefore it can control the linear actuator to extend and retract.

  • The upper-left and lower-right terminals are connected to the ground of the power supply.
  • The upper-right and lower-left terminals are connected to the +12V terminal of the power supply.
  • The middle-right and middle-left terminals are connected to the 2 inputs from the actuator.

Wiring with a Control Box

Wiring a Control Box

Depends on the application, many users would prefer to control the linear actuator with a control box. At Progressive Automations, we offer a large variety of control box options. They are mostly plug and play, so there is very little need for additional wiring.  They can generally be summarized into two simple steps.

  • Connect the output of the control box to the input of the linear actuator.
  • Connect the input of the control box to the output of the power supply.

Wiring with a Custom Control System

It is also possible to control the linear actuator with your own custom control system. Depends on your applications and control system requirement, the schematic for the control system can be vastly different; however, the connection terminals for the linear actuator itself should remain consistent. The terminals you need to find are the +12VDC output terminal and the -12VDC output terminal. These should usually be labeled with +V and -V signs. No matter how complicated the custom control system is, the final output signal needs 12VDC current to drive the linear actuators. Look for any labels on the control unit or find them in the user manuals.

There are many different ways to wire a 12VDC linear actuator. It all depends on the application and the control system you are using. If you are not sure on how to wire your 12-Volt linear actuator, feel free to contact us at Progressive Automations, and one of our linear actuator experts will assist you.

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