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What is a Linear Actuator and Why Buy One?

A linear actuator is an electromechanical device that converts energy into linear motion. It uses an electric motor to push or pull a load along a straight line to provide precise positioning and movement. Linear actuators have a wide range of industrial, commercial, and consumer applications due to their versatility, precision, and power.

There are several reasons why you may want to buy a linear actuator:

  • Precise Positioning – Linear actuators allow for accurate positioning and repeatability. You can precisely control the extension and retraction of the actuator.
  • Push/Pull Force – Linear actuators can provide considerable amounts of force for pushing, lifting, lowering or clamping loads. Different actuator models offer force capabilities from just a few pounds up to several tons.
  • Speed Control – Many linear actuators allow you to control the speed of the extension and retraction motion to suit your specific needs.
  • Automation – Linear actuators can automate linear motion that would otherwise require manual intervention. They can be integrated into automated systems and processes.
  • Versatility – With their linear push/pull motion, linear actuators can serve a wide variety of functions across many industries and applications.

Some common applications and uses of linear actuators include:

  • Opening and closing valves
  • Raising and lowering lifting platforms
  • Extending and retracting slides, hatches, and landing gear on vehicles
  • Operating clamps to hold workpieces in automated machines
  • Positioning stages, optics, and instruments in precision equipment
  • Deploying solar panels and antennas
  • Adjusting rudders and control surfaces on vehicles
  • Actuating throttle controls
  • Opening and closing gates or barriers
  • Articulating robotic joints

Linear actuators provide an electromechanical solution for applications needing precise linear positioning and motion. Compared to pneumatic and hydraulic cylinders, electric linear actuators offer simpler controls, quicker response times, and often a cleaner motion profile. They eliminate the need for compressed air or hydraulic power and make it easy to achieve automated push/pull movements.

Types of Linear Actuators

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

There are several common types of linear actuators, which operate on different mechanical principles:

  • Screw linear actuators – These contain an electric motor that rotates a screw drive. The rotational motion is converted into linear motion to extend and retract an output rod.
  • Belt-driven linear actuators – These utilize a belt and pulley system driven by an electric motor to produce linear motion.
  • Rodless actuators – Also called “cable cylinders,” these contain a moving carriage driven along the actuator body by an internal belt, leadscrew or magnets.
  • Rack and pinion actuators – Rack and pinion gears convert rotary motion from a pinion gear into linear movement of a rack gear.
  • Linear motors – These directly produce linear motion without any mechanical conversion process. The motor contains magnets on the forcer (movable part) and wire coils on the stator (fixed part).

Screw and belt-driven linear actuators are the most common types due to their simplicity, smooth motion, precision, and reliability. Rack and pinion and linear motor actuators are typically used for high speeds or heavy loads requiring high thrust.

Choosing the Right Linear Actuator

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

With the wide range of linear actuator models and types available, you’ll want to assess the requirements of your application when selecting an appropriate actuator. Here are some key considerations:

  • Stroke length – The maximum extension length needed for the application.
  • Force rating – The amount of push/pull force required throughout the stroke.
  • Speed – The desired speed of extension and retraction.
  • Precision – The level of positioning accuracy and repeatability needed.
  • Duty cycle – How often and for how long will the actuator be energized?
  • Environment – Will the actuator be used indoors or outdoors? What temperature extremes may be encountered?
  • Control interface – How will the actuator be controlled – discrete inputs or analog/network connections?
  • Mounting – Will the actuator body be stationary or moving? How will it be mounted?
  • Electrical specs – What voltage power supply is available? What feedback options are needed?

Working through these key criteria will help match you with the right linear actuator to suit your technical needs and performance requirements. Reputable suppliers can guide you through the product selection process and help you obtain the ideal linear actuator for your application.

Need a Linear Actuator? Find The Best Deals Near You:

In need of a reliable, high-performing linear actuator for your next project or build? With so many options on the market, it can be tricky finding the right actuator at an affordable price. Here are some tips for locating the best linear actuator deals in your area:

  • Search online classified ads – Sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are go-to spots to find individuals and businesses selling used actuators locally. You can often find actuators in great condition at steep discounts.
  • Check industrial surplus and salvage vendors – Companies specializing in surplus machinery and parts sell both new and used actuators at reduced prices. They offer tested equipment pulled from decommissioned machines and production lines.
  • Scour local auction listings – Storage unit auctions, business closings, and government surplus auctions routinely include linear actuators among other mechanical and electrical equipment. You can potentially win quality actuators for cheap.
  • Look for online auction deals – eBay, Industrial Auctions, and HiBid are prime places to locate affordable linear actuators being sold in online industrial auctions. Actuator models and brands often go for lower prices than retail.
  • Search discount distributor websites – Distributors like AutomationDirect and Intech sell both new and factory reconditioned actuators direct to consumers at sizable discounts off list prices. Deep discounts apply to clearance inventory.

When evaluating linear actuators from these secondary sources, be sure to closely inspect condition and performance. Actuate and load test the actuator. Check for any looseness, debris, or damage to the screw, belt, or track. Ensure the motor runs smoothly across the full stroke length. Scale, surface corrosion, and minor scuffs may not affect function. But avoid actuators with excessive dust/grease accumulation, dents, or cracks.

Sourcing previously owned or factory refurbished linear actuators from local sellers and online retailers can net you premium equipment at budget-friendly prices. With due diligence to assess and verify condition, you can achieve major savings on the linear actuator well-suited to your automation, lifting, clamping, or positioning needs.

Some key brands known for quality linear actuators to look for in the used market include Parker Hannifin, Thomson, Tolomatic, Exlar, IAI, SKF, Warner Linear, and Curtiss-Wright. But also consider actuators from less familiar OEMs. With thorough inspection and testing, an off-brand linear actuator can deliver reliable performance at an unbeatable value.

Don’t let a limited equipment budget derail your linear motion project. With flexible research and a little legwork, local deals on pre-owned, factory refurbished or clearance actuators can deliver big savings while still providing the precision, power, and performance your application requires.

Key Features to Look For When Buying a Linear Actuator

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

With the wide variety of linear actuator models available, it’s important to understand the key features and specifications to evaluate when selecting the right actuator for your application. Taking the time to match the capabilities of the actuator to your technical requirements will ensure optimal performance, safety, and durability.

Here are some of the most important criteria and characteristics to consider when purchasing a linear actuator:

Stroke Length

The stroke or stroke length represents the maximum extension distance of the linear actuator. This should be sufficient to cover the full range of linear motion needed for your application. Strokes may range from just a few inches to several feet depending on the actuator size and type.

Load Capacity

The dynamic load rating defines the force the actuator can exert along its full stroke to push, lift or pull a load. Higher load capacities require more powerful motors and mechanical components. Make sure to purchase an actuator rated to safely handle your load under all operating conditions.

Speed and Precision

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

The speed of extension/retraction will impact cycle times and throughput for automation applications. Precision linear actuators also offer accurate positioning ability and repeatability. Stepper motor actuators often provide the highest precision motion control.

Duty Cycle Rating

This specifies how often an actuator can theoretically be cycled on and off during continuous operation. Higher duty cycle ratings provide longer service life for repetitive applications requiring frequent actuation.

Electrical Interface

Linear actuators are powered by DC electric motors. Common control interfaces include discrete inputs for limit switches, analog voltage or current for proportional control, or digital networks like CAN bus or Ethernet.

Feedback

Higher-end actuators incorporate feedback devices like linear encoders or potentiometers to provide position and speed data to the control system. This closed-loop feedback enhances precision, reliability, and monitoring.

Protection Rating

The IP (ingress protection) rating indicates the level of sealing against dust, water, and contaminants. Higher IP ratings allow linear actuators to withstand washdown or outdoor environments.

Mounting Configurations

Linear actuators are produced for either stationary body or moving body applications. Different models also offer various mounting options like trunnion, clevis, and threaded joints to simplify integration.

Materials of Construction

Housing materials like anodized aluminum, stainless steel or engineered plastics provide corrosion resistance and long service life. Internal components like screws, belts, and gears rely on sturdy metals and reinforced polymers as well.

Manual Override

Having a manual hand crank or release allows the actuator to be operated manually in case of a power failure. Non-driven, manual linear actuators are also available for simple positioning tasks.

Taking time to carefully match your requirements to the capabilities of different linear actuator models may require an investment upfront. However, it saves time, money, and headaches down the road compared to installing an undersized or inappropriate actuator that fails to perform as needed.

Partnering with a knowledgeable actuator supplier that can advise you through the selection process is recommended. By pilot testing an actuator prior to full-scale implementation, you can further validate that it meets your operating specifications for force, speed, precision, and longevity before committing.

While linear actuators may seem like simple devices on the surface, taking a deeper look at key performance features and design criteria allows you to critically evaluate options and make the optimal choice. Focusing your selection on the technical factors that matter most for your application will lead you to a linear actuator that delivers maximum repeatable performance, safety, and return on investment.

Need a Linear Actuator? Find The Best Deals Near You:

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

In need of a reliable, high-performing linear actuator for your next project or build? With so many options on the market, it can be tricky finding the right actuator at an affordable price. Here are some tips for locating the best linear actuator deals in your area:

  • Search online classified ads – Sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are go-to spots to find individuals and businesses selling used actuators locally. You can often find actuators in great condition at steep discounts.
  • Check industrial surplus and salvage vendors – Companies specializing in surplus machinery and parts sell both new and used actuators at reduced prices. They offer tested equipment pulled from decommissioned machines and production lines.
  • Scour local auction listings – Storage unit auctions, business closings, and government surplus auctions routinely include linear actuators among other mechanical and electrical equipment. You can potentially win quality actuators for cheap.
  • Look for online auction deals – eBay, Industrial Auctions, and HiBid are prime places to locate affordable linear actuators being sold in online industrial auctions. Actuator models and brands often go for lower prices than retail.
  • Search discount distributor websites – Distributors like AutomationDirect and Intech sell both new and factory reconditioned actuators direct to consumers at sizable discounts off list prices. Deep discounts apply to clearance inventory.

When evaluating linear actuators from these secondary sources, be sure to closely inspect condition and performance. Actuate and load test the actuator. Check for any looseness, debris, or damage to the screw, belt, or track. Ensure the motor runs smoothly across the full stroke length. Scale, surface corrosion, and minor scuffs may not affect function. But avoid actuators with excessive dust/grease accumulation, dents, or cracks.

Sourcing previously owned or factory refurbished linear actuators from local sellers and online retailers can net you premium equipment at budget-friendly prices. With due diligence to assess and verify condition, you can achieve major savings on the linear actuator well-suited to your automation, lifting, clamping, or positioning needs.

Compare Prices Online For the Best Linear Actuator Deals

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

Need an affordable linear actuator for your latest project or automation application? Shopping online can help you compare prices and score big savings on top linear actuator models and brands. With some research and comparison shopping, you can land a quality linear actuator at a budget-friendly price.

Here are some tips for getting the best online deals on linear actuators:

Search Aggregator Sites

Instead of checking prices on individual sites, use aggregators like Google Shopping to compile and compare results from retailers across the web. Quickly scan for the lowest prices on specific actuator makes and models.

Leverage Price Tracking Tools

Sites like CamelCamelCamel allow you to view price history and set alerts when prices for particular actuators drop. This helps you pounce when rare discounts become available.

Look for Coupon Codes

Before completing any online purchase, search for available promo codes and coupons that can be applied at checkout to lower your total price. RetailMeNot and Honey are great resources for finding codes.

Buy Refurbished Units

Factory reconditioned linear actuators sold through eBay, Amazon, and other major retailers can offer dramatic savings off new models. Inspect condition closely but refurbs often look and function like new.

Join Loyalty Programs

Signing up for free loyalty programs through suppliers like AutomationDirect and Grainger provides member-only discounts plus access to exclusive sale pricing not available to the general public.

Buy in Bulk

Need multiple linear actuators for a large project? Bulk purchases from distributors can yield better per unit pricing. Negotiate further quantity discounts if buying a very large stock.

Look for Free Shipping Offers

Some linear actuator sellers provide free standard shipping on all online orders over a minimum purchase value. This avoids hidden shipping costs bumping up your total checkout price.

Purchase Used and Demo Units

Check industrial auction sites and classified ads for local listings of quality used linear actuators in working condition at a fraction of retail cost. Demo units are also deeply discounted.

Ask About Sales and Clearance Stock

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

Reach out to distributors to ask about any upcoming promotions or overstock actuators being cleared out at closeout pricing. Time purchases around these sale events for maximum savings.

With linear actuators, you generally get what you pay for in terms of performance, precision, durability, and power. Avoid choosing only by price alone. Instead, determine the criteria and features needed for your application then compare models with those required capabilities while seeking the best attainable deal.

Utilizing online comparison shopping tools levels the playing field and gives individual buyers the same leverage as large companies to locate the ideal linear actuators at the most competitive prices. Do your homework and leverage these online sourcing strategies to unlock major savings on the ideal linear actuator solution.

Need a Linear Actuator? Find The Best Deals Near You:

In need of a reliable, high-performing linear actuator for your next project or build? With so many options on the market, it can be tricky finding the right actuator at an affordable price. Here are some tips for locating the best linear actuator deals in your area:

  • Search online classified ads – Sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are go-to spots to find individuals and businesses selling used actuators locally. You can often find actuators in great condition at steep discounts.
  • Check industrial surplus and salvage vendors – Companies specializing in surplus machinery and parts sell both new and used actuators at reduced prices. They offer tested equipment pulled from decommissioned machines and production lines.
  • Scour local auction listings – Storage unit auctions, business closings, and government surplus auctions routinely include linear actuators among other mechanical and electrical equipment. You can potentially win quality actuators for cheap.
  • Look for online auction deals – eBay, Industrial Auctions, and HiBid are prime places to locate affordable linear actuators being sold in online industrial auctions. Actuator models and brands often go for lower prices than retail.
  • Search discount distributor websites – Distributors like AutomationDirect and Intech sell both new and factory reconditioned actuators direct to consumers at sizable discounts off list prices. Deep discounts apply to clearance inventory.

When evaluating linear actuators from these secondary sources, be sure to closely inspect condition and performance. Actuate and load test the actuator. Check for any looseness, debris, or damage to the screw, belt, or track. Ensure the motor runs smoothly across the full stroke length. Scale, surface corrosion, and minor scuffs may not affect function. But avoid actuators with excessive dust/grease accumulation, dents, or cracks.

Sourcing previously owned or factory refurbished linear actuators from local sellers and online retailers can net you premium equipment at budget-friendly prices. With due diligence to assess and verify condition, you can achieve major savings on the linear actuator well-suited to your automation, lifting, clamping, or positioning needs.

Shop Local Stores for Immediate Availability of Linear Actuators

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

For those times when you need a reliable linear actuator immediately, skipping the usual online sources and directly shopping local brick-and-mortar stores can provide access to same-day inventory. When your project timeline doesn’t allow for shipping lead times, visiting retail and wholesale outlets in your area is the fastest way to get your hands on an in-stock actuator.

Here are some local sources to check for immediate linear actuator availability:

Industrial Supply Distributors

Major industrial distributors like Grainger, McMaster-Carr and Applied maintain localized brick-and-mortar stores stocked with common actuator models ready for immediate pickup. Their on-hand selection covers many mid-range actuator sizes and specifications.

Automation Equipment Dealers

Local dealers specializing in factory automation equipment like linear actuators often have demonstration and resale models on display and ready to transact. Their showroom inventory caters towards regional business and manufacturing.

Electrical Component Supply Outlets

Suppliers of motors, sensors, controls and other electrical parts regularly carry select lines of linear actuators to service regional industrial and construction needs. Their actuator selection may be limited but immediately accessible.

Mechanical Surplus Dealers

Machinery dealers reselling used manufacturing equipment and parts inventory linear actuators pulled from decommissioned machines and process lines. Their stock rotates frequently but can yield hidden gems.

Scrap and Recycling Yards

Check larger scrap metal processors and equipment recyclers for functional linear actuators recovered from regional plants and factories upgrading older machinery. Units may need cleaning/testing but can be cheaper.

Local Classified Listings

Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and newspaper classifieds routinely feature area businesses, factories and contractors selling off surplus linear actuators, sometimes at deep discounts if eager to liquidate equipment.

When buying linear actuators locally, be sure to ask about return policies in case the actuator doesn’t function as expected when installing and testing. Also inquire about any warranty coverage.

While selection will be narrower than shopping nationally online, local sources can yield immediate in-stock availability of linear actuators to fulfill urgent project needs. Supporting local suppliers also keeps industrial commerce thriving in your community.

Need a Linear Actuator? Find The Best Deals Near You:

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

In need of a reliable, high-performing linear actuator for your next project or build? With so many options on the market, it can be tricky finding the right actuator at an affordable price. Here are some tips for locating the best linear actuator deals in your area:

  • Search online classified ads – Sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are go-to spots to find individuals and businesses selling used actuators locally. You can often find actuators in great condition at steep discounts.
  • Check industrial surplus and salvage vendors – Companies specializing in surplus machinery and parts sell both new and used actuators at reduced prices. They offer tested equipment pulled from decommissioned machines and production lines.
  • Scour local auction listings – Storage unit auctions, business closings, and government surplus auctions routinely include linear actuators among other mechanical and electrical equipment. You can potentially win quality actuators for cheap.
  • Look for online auction deals – eBay, Industrial Auctions, and HiBid are prime places to locate affordable linear actuators being sold in online industrial auctions. Actuator models and brands often go for lower prices than retail.
  • Search discount distributor websites – Distributors like AutomationDirect and Intech sell both new and factory reconditioned actuators direct to consumers at sizable discounts off list prices. Deep discounts apply to clearance inventory.

When evaluating linear actuators from these secondary sources, be sure to closely inspect condition and performance. Actuate and load test the actuator. Check for any looseness, debris, or damage to the screw, belt, or track. Ensure the motor runs smoothly across the full stroke length. Scale, surface corrosion, and minor scuffs may not affect function. But avoid actuators with excessive dust/grease accumulation, dents, or cracks.

Sourcing previously owned or factory refurbished linear actuators from local sellers and online retailers can net you premium equipment at budget-friendly prices. With due diligence to assess and verify condition, you can achieve major savings on the linear actuator well-suited to your automation, lifting, clamping, or positioning needs.

Consider Used and Refurbished Linear Actuators for Big Savings

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

Purchasing a previously-owned or refurbished linear actuator can realize major cost savings over new models. From a functionality standpoint, high-quality used and reconditioned linear actuators often perform just as capably as new versions at a fraction of the price if sourced carefully.

Here are some benefits of choosing a used or refurbished linear actuator:

Lower Purchase Cost

Buying pre-owned or factory refurbished actuators saves 50% or more off retail pricing for new-in-box versions of the identical models. The same technology and performance at half the cost makes used actuators very attractive.

Faster Availability

Used inventories ship immediately versus new models that often have lead times. Getting your actuator sooner accelerates your project and revenue generation from the equipment it powers.

Proven Reliability

Quality used actuators pulled from functioning installations have a proven track record of reliability. New models may still have latent defects that arise over time whereas used ones have already shown performance.

Ideal for Budget Projects

Used linear actuators stretch limited equipment budgets further. Attain capable automation components without drawing capital away from other key project expenses.

Reduced Depreciation

A used actuator has already taken most of its depreciation hit. Your investment retains more residual value should you want to resell the actuator down the road.

Availability of Hard-to-Find Models

Used equipment dealers may stock discontinued or rare linear actuator models not readily available through normal distribution channels when sourcing from plant retirements.

However, note that used actuators may show some superficial wear like scuffs or scratches that don’t impact function. Replacement seals, bearings, or other components may be needed down the road as well. Only consider used/refurbished units from reputable dealers that thoroughly test and guarantee performance.

For obsolete applications using older technology, used actuators are often the only option. And even the latest high-tech actuator models can offer excellent value bought used or refurbished if unit condition is properly evaluated.

Seeking out professionally reconditioned or high-quality pre-owned linear actuators extends limited capital for building automation systems. With due diligence applied in sourcing and inspection, previously used linear actuators provide substantial savings with minimal compromise in performance.

Need a Linear Actuator? Find The Best Deals Near You:

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

In need of a reliable, high-performing linear actuator for your next project or build? With so many options on the market, it can be tricky finding the right actuator at an affordable price. Here are some tips for locating the best linear actuator deals in your area:

  • Search online classified ads – Sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are go-to spots to find individuals and businesses selling used actuators locally. You can often find actuators in great condition at steep discounts.
  • Check industrial surplus and salvage vendors – Companies specializing in surplus machinery and parts sell both new and used actuators at reduced prices. They offer tested equipment pulled from decommissioned machines and production lines.
  • Scour local auction listings – Storage unit auctions, business closings, and government surplus auctions routinely include linear actuators among other mechanical and electrical equipment. You can potentially win quality actuators for cheap.
  • Look for online auction deals – eBay, Industrial Auctions, and HiBid are prime places to locate affordable linear actuators being sold in online industrial auctions. Actuator models and brands often go for lower prices than retail.
  • Search discount distributor websites – Distributors like AutomationDirect and Intech sell both new and factory reconditioned actuators direct to consumers at sizable discounts off list prices. Deep discounts apply to clearance inventory.

When evaluating linear actuators from these secondary sources, be sure to closely inspect condition and performance. Actuate and load test the actuator. Check for any looseness, debris, or damage to the screw, belt, or track. Ensure the motor runs smoothly across the full stroke length. Scale, surface corrosion, and minor scuffs may not affect function. But avoid actuators with excessive dust/grease accumulation, dents, or cracks.

Sourcing previously owned or factory refurbished linear actuators from local sellers and online retailers can net you premium equipment at budget-friendly prices. With due diligence to assess and verify condition, you can achieve major savings on the linear actuator well-suited to your automation, lifting, clamping, or positioning needs.

Find Powerful 12V DC Electric Linear Actuators

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

Looking to get your hands on a high-quality linear actuator? Search no more, my friend. This guide will help you locate powerful 12V DC electric linear actuators for all your actuation needs. Whether you’re building robots, automating your home, or constructing industrial machinery, a good linear actuator can make quick work of moving and adjusting heavy loads with precision.

First thing’s first – what exactly are linear actuators? In simple terms, they are mechanical devices that provide motion in a straight line using an electric motor and screw drive system. You apply voltage to make the motor spin, which extends and retracts an internal threaded shaft, pushing or pulling the load connected to the actuator shaft. They come in handy any time you need linear push/pull motion to slide, lift, tilt or position objects.

Compared to pneumatic cylinders, electric linear actuators offer more precise control without requiring bulky air compressors and hoses. And unlike hydraulic cylinders, they don’t need messy hydraulic fluid pumping systems. 12V DC actuators, in particular, are quite versatile since 12 volts is a common voltage found in boats, RVs, automobiles, and many DIY electronics and robotics projects.

That said, not all 12V DC linear actuators are created equal. You’ll want an actuator that provides plenty of thrust force for your application without overheating or draining your batteries too quickly. Sturdy metal construction and built-in limit switches are also nice features to have. Here are some criteria to look for when picker out a good 12V linear actuator:

  • Thrust capacity – Make sure the actuator’s max push/pull force meets your requirements
  • Stroke length – The actuator’s maximum extension distance should accommodate your movement range needs
  • Speed – Faster is better for quick movements; slower is better for precision/control
  • Duty cycle rating – Actuators rated for continuous duty can run for longer periods without overheating
  • Current draw – Lower current equals less battery drain
  • Voltage – Most 12V actuators can operate from 9-15+ volts, providing flexibility
  • Limit switches – Built-in switches stop extension at min/max positions, preventing damage
  • Lead screw type – Some provide more thrust than others (ball vs acme screws)
  • Weight capacity – Double check it can handle the weight of your load
  • Special features – Waterproofing, braking, manual override, etc.

To make the selection process easier, I’ve rounded up the top places online to purchase quality 12V DC electric linear actuators while getting the best bang for your buck:

Online Retailers

My go-to online sources for buying linear actuators include major retailers like Amazon and eBay. Both offer a wide range of electric linear actuators from various manufacturers at reasonable prices with fast shipping. Models made by reputable brands like Progressive Automations, Actuonix, Firgelli, and Kepler are readily available.

For example, I recently found highly-rated 12V 10-inch stroke actuators on Amazon for around $60-100. eBay also had nice compact 6-inch stroke actuators for under $50 with free shipping. The key is reading lots of reviews and product details to understand the differences between all the actuator options.

Manufacturer Websites

Ordering directly from linear actuator manufacturers allows you to buy directly from the source. Most major brands like Linak, Thomson, Curtiss Wright, and Tolomatic have online stores or distributor locators on their websites. This ensures you get an authentic new actuator that hasn’t been sitting on a shelf somewhere for ages.

Manufacturer sites also provide helpful info like spec sheets, CAD drawings, user manuals, and wiring instructions. Plus technical support if you need help selecting the right model. Expect to pay MSRP when buying direct, but take advantage of any bulk order discounts when you can.

Surplus Sellers

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

If cost is your main concern, check industrial surplus sites like SurplusCenter.com and AutomationTechnologiesInc.com. They frequently have quality used linear actuators and refurbished models at huge discounts. The trade-off is you may not get the newest products with full specs and support.

Still, with some research into each actuator’s condition and history, you can score an expensive industrial actuator on the cheap. Watch out for clearance sales where surplus sellers liquidate stock for extra savings. Overall, used actuators are a solid option when you want excellent value and don’t mind an older generation product.

Electronics Distributors

Major electronics component distributors like Digi-Key, Mouser, Allied Electronics, and AutomationDirect all carry lines of DC electric linear actuators suitable for DIY, robotics, and industrial control applications. Browsing their sites allows you to comparison shop specs and prices across many actuator models.

They may even offer exclusive house brand actuators that are reasonably priced. Most distributors cater more towards hobbyists, makers, and smaller OEMs rather than large corporations. Take advantage of volume discounts for big orders to save money.

By leveraging multiple sources like these online retailers, manufacturers, surplus sellers, and distributors, you can usually find the ideal linear actuator to suit your exact requirements and budget. Just make sure to diligently compare specifications between different models. And read feedback from fellow customers who’ve used the actuators first-hand.

With such a wide selection available, you should have no trouble locating high-quality 12V DC electric linear actuators with the correct force, speed, stroke length and features. Happy actuation hunting!

Get Advice From Experts on Selecting the Right Model

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

Picking the perfect linear actuator for your project can seem overwhelming with so many sizes, force ratings, and options to choose from. But having the right guidance from experts who know actuators inside and out can make finding the ideal model much easier. Here are some great ways to get sage advice when selecting linear actuators.

Consult With Technical Sales Engineers

One of the best resources when selecting an actuator is the technical sales engineering team at the manufacturer or distributor. These experts are highly trained in helping customers find the right products for their specific applications. Explain exactly how and where you intend to use the actuator, including load requirements, stroke length, duty cycle, and any environmental factors.

The sales engineer can then recommend the optimal linear actuator models and options based on your needs. This tailored guidance is extremely valuable compared to picking something from a webpage blindly. Take advantage of their product application knowledge by being detailed in your questions and descriptions of use cases. They’ll happily guide you to the perfect actuator solution.

Leverage Online Selection Tools

Many leading linear actuator brands provide online selection tools and configurators to simplify the product selection process for customers. These web-based apps have you input your application parameters and requirements into an interactive form. It then generates a list of suitable actuators tailored to your unique criteria.

For example, Linak’s Actuator Selector asks for stroke length, thrust force, duty cycle and other specifications. It then serves up details on matching actuator series down to model numbers, dimensions, pricing and accessories. Selection tools like this make short work of identifying the right linear actuators without needing to be an expert yourself.

Research Industry Forums

Engineers, designers and DIY’ers sharing insights in forums can provide guidance based on their real-world actuator experience. For instance, communities like Reddit’s r/actuators subreddit andvarious hobbyist forums feature plenty of threads discussing actuator selection and recommendations.

Read through archived posts for advice from fellow users highlighting their favorite actuator models for types of projects similar to yours. You can even create new posts describing your application to solicit feedback on which specific actuators community members would choose.

Watch Video Tutorials

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

YouTube is packed with DIY and engineering channels offering advice on picking linear actuators through video tutorials. These videos visually walk through critical factors to consider based on example projects using various actuators. Look for clips focusing on topics like choosing thrust capacity, stroke length, voltage, motor control options, etc.

Seeing actuators in action on real test benches and mechanisms helps give you a feel for properly matching components to applications. Take notes on the types of actuators recommended for loads, motion profiles, and environments comparable to your own.

Consult Design Resources

Several online resources provide design guidance and best practices for engineers selecting linear actuators for diverse applications. For instance, publications from the International Society of Automation (ISA) dive deep into properly sizing and specifying linear actuators for optimal performance, safety, and longevity.

Whitepapers from actuator manufacturers also offer handy selection criteria tips based on extensive testing and customer use cases across industries. Reviewing detailed design resources arms you with knowledge to pick actuators like an experienced pro.

Ask Local Distributors

Need a Linear Actuator. Find The Best Deals Near You

Don’t forget the hands-on expertise available right in your own backyard. Industrial distributors employ teams of technical specialists focused solely on assisting local engineers and purchasers in evaluating and implementing automation components like linear actuators.

Explain your project goals to your local distributor to have them suggest specific actuator models, troubleshoot integration challenges, and even provide product samples to test. Their guidance can prove invaluable for complex projects.

By tapping into these many professional resources for advice on picking the best linear actuators, you can have confidence your selection will perfectly match the capabilities and demands of your unique application. Doing your homework beforehand ensures your projects operate smoothly and successfully thanks to properly specified actuators.

Calculate the Force and Stroke Length You Need

Looking for a linear actuator? With so many options available, it can be tricky to find the right one for your application. The first step is determining the force and stroke length you’ll need. Here are some tips for calculating those key specs before you start shopping around.

Consider the Load

What are you trying to move with the linear actuator? Understanding the load is crucial for selecting an actuator with enough force. Is it a heavy mechanical part? A large wooden door or gate? Think about the weight and any friction forces that will resist motion. Heavier loads need more force to get moving and keep moving smoothly.

It’s better to overestimate the force needed rather than undershoot. Undersized actuators may have trouble extending and retracting fully when under load. They could overheat or fail prematurely too. Safety factors of 1.5 to 2 times the expected load are common.

Determine the Stroke Length

The stroke length is how far the actuator’s arm extends and retracts. Consider what positions you need the actuator to move between. For opening a door or lifting a panel, measure the required range of motion. Add a buffer – it’s better for the stroke length to be slightly longer than absolutely necessary.

Longer stroke lengths typically mean a bigger actuator. Make sure to get an actuator rated for your required stroke. Undersized stroke length causes the actuator to top out before reaching the desired positions.

Factor in Speed

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Faster actuator speeds require more powerful motors and beefier components. How quickly does your application need to move? Watch out for overspecifying speed when it’s not truly important – faster actuators draw more current and run hotter.

For infrequent movements like opening a door, a slower actuator may suffice. For lifting panels quickly or applications needing repeat motion, choose an actuator rated for continuous duty at the speed you need.

Consider Duty Cycle

Duty cycle defines how often an actuator is in motion versus stationary. Continuous duty actuators can run for long periods without rest. Intermittent duty saves money for applications only needing occasional motion.

What’s the duty cycle for your application? Opening a door a few times a day is very intermittent. Lifting a panel every few minutes is more continuous. Higher duty cycles require more rugged designs to handle the heat and wear.

Mind the Mounting

Linear actuators push and pull in a straight line. Make sure the mounting points allow that pure linear motion. Look at how the actuator attaches to the load – both ends should align smoothly.

Any misalignment or angular forces added by the mounting can bind the actuator, accelerating wear. The right mounting accessories help everything move freely.

Choosing Electric vs. Pneumatic Actuators

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For most DIY and small automation projects, electric actuators are the simplest choice. But pneumatic models powered by compressed air can be a viable alternative.

Benefits of Electric Actuators

  • Easy to power from batteries, wall outlets, or 12/24V power supplies.
  • Precise position control with built-in limit switches or position feedback.
  • Self-contained – no air compressors or plumbing required.
  • Lower maintenance without risk of air leaks.

Benefits of Pneumatic Actuators

  • Can produce large forces from compressed air.
  • Fast actuation speeds.
  • Lower cost for high-force models.
  • Intrinsically safe for hazardous environments.

For many DIY projects, electric actuators are often simpler, cleaner, and safer to use. But if you need speed and high force for industrial automation, pneumatics have advantages.

Choosing Voltage for Electric Actuators

Voltage is one of the key specifications for electric linear actuators. Common options are 12V, 24V or 120V AC. Consider your control system and power source.

12V Actuators

12 volt DC actuators run from simple batteries or power supplies. This low voltage is safe for DIY projects. 12V is common for automotive applications too. Downsides of 12V include slower speed and lower power compared to 24V models.

24V Actuators

24V actuators provide faster movement and higher power output than 12V, good for more heavy-duty applications. They can control bigger loads. 24VDC is used for industrial controls and automation. Wall power can run 24V actuators with a plug-in power supply.

120V AC Actuators

Standard wall voltage, 120V AC, powers some actuators directly without any external power supply. This is convenient for simple installations. However, speed and force are limited compared to DC actuators. Control options are also more limited at 120VAC.

For most projects, 12V or 24V DC provides the best performance and controllability. But 120V AC can be easier for basic on-off automation.

Get the Right Linear Actuator for You

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With all these factors considered, you can zero in on the correct linear actuator for your project. Online vendors offer a staggering selection of electric actuators in different voltages, forces, stroke lengths, and controller options.

For light loads under 100 pounds, compact 12V actuators keep costs down. Modular linear motion systems use the building-block approach for easily scaling up force and travel.

Industrial-grade 24V DC electromechanical actuators handle heavy lifting to 500 pounds or more. AC-powered actuators are simple on/off solutions.

Today’s high-tech actuators include closed-loop DC models with built-in position sensing. This enables precise computer control and feedback, ideal for automation projects.

Do your homework to measure requirements upfront. Oversize force and stroke length to avoid undershooting needs. Consider speed, cycle rates, and mounting factors like alignment. With smart planning, you can find just the right linear actuator for moving your project forward.

Buy Complete Linear Actuator Kits With Mounting Hardware

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Installing a linear actuator on your project? Save time and hassle by getting a complete kit. These all-in-one packages provide the actuator plus mounting accessories for a quick and solid installation.

Benefits of Complete Actuator Kits

An actuator kit contains everything needed in one box:

  • Electric linear actuator
  • Mounting brackets, plates, and hardware
  • Cables, connectors, and power supply
  • Any control electronics and remote

Sourcing all these separately takes legwork. Kits ensure compatible parts that fit together seamlessly. You’ll have the right components for secure and long-lasting mounting.

Common Mounting Options

Linear actuators attach to loads in different ways. Mounting kits match the actuator design:

  • Rear Clevis: A clevis bracket on the back end attaches with a clevis pin. Allows pivoting motion.
  • Front Clevis: Same pivoting clevis mount on the extending screw end.
  • Trunnion: A trunnion barrel around the screw swivels on both ends.
  • Rear/Front Tap: Screw holes tap directly into the actuator body and extension.

Kits include plates, angles, or custom brackets to interface the actuator with the load. All hardware gets sized correctly.

Mounting Considerations

Proper mounting prevents binding and premature wear. The goal is smooth linear movement by avoiding unwanted forces:

  • Align the actuator perfectly straight to the load’s motion.
  • Minimize side loads – linear bearings can’t handle off-axis forces.
  • Allow any pivoting or rotation needed on brackets.
  • Use spacers and shims to fine tune alignments.

Complete mounting kits simplify this critical job. The hardware correctly fits the actuator and protects longevity.

Electronics and Power Included

Actuator kits also contain control electronics and a power supply:

  • Remote control: A wired pushbutton box or radio remote controls the actuator.
  • Limit switches: Signals tell the control board when the actuator is fully extended or retracted.
  • Power supply: Steps mains voltage down to 12V or 24V DC for the actuator.
  • Wiring: Cables connect the controls, power, and actuator.

These extras get sized for the actuator and simplify wiring. Buying separately risks getting incompatible components.

Sizing Complete Linear Actuator Kits

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Choosing the right kit starts with matching actuator specs to your load:

  • Force: Consider weight, friction, and needed safety margin.
  • Stroke length: Measure your required movement distance.
  • Speed: Faster is better for quick cycles.
  • Duty cycle: Continuous or intermittent motion?

Oversize the force rating to allow a safety buffer. Undersized actuators can stall or burn up.

The mounting kit gets designed around the actuator model. Make sure the bracket style suits your installation. Are pivoting clevis mounts or fixed taps needed?

Voltage and Control Options

12V DC actuators run from basic batteries and power supplies. 24V models offer more power. AC actuators plug directly into wall outlets.

Remote control choices include:

  • Simple wired pushbuttons
  • Handheld radio transmitters
  • Smartphone apps
  • Automation controllers

Consider speed, force, stroke, voltage, and controls to select the complete kit matching your application.

Installing Linear Actuator Kits

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Mounting the assembled kit is much faster than building from loose components. Follow best practices for smooth operation:

  • Bolt mounting plates securely to the actuator and load.
  • Align the actuator perfectly straight along the direction of motion.
  • Insert pins and fasteners loosely at first for adjustments.
  • Power up to test the stroke. Make alignment tweaks as needed.
  • Finally tighten all bolts when aligned properly.

Keep an eye out for any binding during the stroke. Refine alignments until movement is smooth.

Connecting controls is easy with pre-wired components. Power up and test with the remote to confirm full extension and retraction.

Complete plug-and-play kits take the guesswork out of installing linear actuators. Sourcing compatible parts yourself risks mismatched or missing pieces. Kits give you validated components in one box for a quick and solid installation.

Troubleshoot Common Linear Actuator Problems

Linear actuators are rugged devices, but issues can arise during installation or operation. Troubleshooting some common problems quickly gets your actuator back on track.

Actuator Won’t Extend or Retract

If a linear actuator won’t budge in either direction, a few things could cause this:

  • Binding from misalignment is keeping the screw or carriage from moving freely.
  • The load is too heavy for the actuator’s force rating.
  • There is a loose or unplugged connection in the controls or power wiring.
  • The control signal isn’t reaching the actuator for some reason.

Try eliminating any binding or side forces on the actuator. Ensure all wiring is solidly connected. Verify the controls are sending the right signal. The actuator itself rarely fails outright barring major damage.

Actuator Stalls Mid-Stroke

Stalling part way through the stroke points to an overloaded actuator:

  • The load is too heavy for the force rating, especially near full extension.
  • Something is blocking the moving arm.
  • Friction has increased from misalignment or jammed guides.

Lighten the load, clear any obstructions, and realign parts to remove binding forces. Consider a higher-force actuator if needed.

Erratic or Uncontrolled Motion

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If the actuator moves randomly or without control, issues may be:

  • Bad wiring connection intermittently cutting out.
  • Radio interference disrupting control signal.
  • Water ingress shorting the internal electronics.
  • Damaged position feedback sensor or dead motor.

Check wiring thoroughly for any loose plugs or frayed wires. Try a different control signal pathway. Look for any water entry points to seal. The internal electronics may need replacement.

Overheating Problems

Linear actuators running abnormally hot can be caused by:

  • Dragging or binding from poor alignment.
  • Duty cycle too heavy for the motor.
  • Load higher than the actuator rating.
  • Poor ventilation around actuator.

Improving alignment to remove any dragging forces helps a lot. Check your cycle rate and run time isn’t exceeding the actuator duty rating. Heatsinks or fans can aid cooling.

Excessive Noise or Vibration

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Unusual noise and vibration can result from:

  • Dry or insufficiently lubricated screw and nut.
  • Debris contaminating the screw or guides.
  • Damaged or worn-out bearing.
  • Misaligned mounting inducing stresses.

Lubricate moving parts with the recommenced oil or grease. Inspect and clean any metal scrap or dirt in the system. Replace bearings making grinding noises or wobbling. Refine mounting alignment to remove off-axis loads.

Preventing Linear Actuator Problems

Proper installation and maintenance prevents most linear actuator issues:

  • Follow force, length, and speed ratings for your application.
  • Keep loads aligned smoothly with mounting hardware.
  • Enclosure helps avoid dirt/dust contamination.
  • Routine lubrication on the screw, guides, and bearing.
  • Keep wiring connections snug and dry.
  • Control duty cycle to avoid overheating.

Sizing the actuator correctly prevents overload issues down the road. Robust alignment and protection from fouling improves longevity exponentially.

Monitoring current draw and temperature in use can detect problems as they arise. Act quickly at the first sign of binding, high loads, or too frequent cycling.

Linear actuators are generally maintenance-free other than occasional lubrication. But installation abuse, contamination, and overload take a toll over time. Careful sizing, mounting, and alignment keeps your actuator smoothly providing years of service.