Photo of linear actuator connecting to control box

Wiring a 12v Linear Actuator

Anna Sapiga
Anna Sapiga
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. Depending on how the unit is wired, one can control it in many different ways. In this article, we will go over wiring a 12-volt linear actuator to a rocker switch and control box along with a basic understanding of how an actuator works.

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Wiring a 12V Actuator to a Rocker Switch

The simplest process to wire a 12V linear actuator to a rocker switch is to use a wiring kit. The installation kit comprises of two wires. These are red and black wires that are already configured with jumpers to make the connection much easier. Other items in the wiring kit include the Molex connectors, fuse holders containing fuses, limit switches, and diodes.


Wiring kit for linear actuators


The installation kit limits the stroke size and extends the length of the wire to be connected to the actuator. These two wires are important because they are used to control the motor of a linear actuator. The connection process can be performed using two options. These include using the momentary rocker switches and non-momentary switches. Momentary rocker switches aid in extending and retracting the motor. If the button is lowered, the movements stop when pressure is removed from the knob. A non-momentary switch’s linear motor can cause motion in three different positions. That is to extend, drawback and help in turning off.

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 following steps must be taken, as displayed in the diagram below.

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

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12 Volt Linear Actuator wiring to rocker switch


Wiring with a Control Box

Depending 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 mostly plug and play, so there is very little need for additional wiring. They can generally be summarized into two simple steps.

Wiring Control Box to linear actuator
  1. Connect the output of the control box to the input of the linear actuator.
  2. 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. Depending on the applications and control system requirements, the schematic for the control system can be vastly different. However, the connection terminals for the linear actuator itself should remain consistent. The terminals one would need to find are the +12VDC output terminal and the -12VDC output terminal. These should usually be labelled with +V and -V signs. No matter how complicated the custom control system is, the final output signal needs a 12VDC current to drive the linear actuators. Look for any labels on the control unit or find them in the user manuals.

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    There are many different ways to wire a 12VDC linear actuator. It all depends on the application and the control system one is using. If you are unsure 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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