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Linear Actuators in Power Windows

Anna Sapiga
Anna Sapiga
PA Engineer

Electromechanical linear actuators play a critical role in making vehicle power window automation as powerful and seamless as possible. Power windows do not need to be restricted to cars alone, however, as window actuators can be widely used in a variety of settings. This article will discuss how automated power windows work and aim to highlight the importance and benefits of window automation.

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The Workings of Window Actuators

Electric window openers are often operated remotely through a button on an individual device. Motorized windows are thus an excellent addition to a smart home. Once the button is pressed, the motor within the opening mechanism is activated and the actuator will do its work. Linear actuators within windows can be divided into three mechanisms.


Motorised Window Mechanisms

Rack and Pinion

The mechanism within a rack and pinion converts rotational motion into linear motion. The pinion is a circular gear, and it engages a linear bar with teeth, known as a rack. Whenever power is applied, the pinion rotates. The rack then moves with the pinion and the rotational motion of the pinion is converted into linear motion. In such windows, the rack is within an external casing and is often attached to the window itself. Once the pinion moves, the rack gets pushed out and the window is opened.

Rod Actuators

An extendable rod is fitted onto a track and both parts are enclosed within an external casing. As the rod is activated from the electric motor it starts extending. Since the rod is attached to the window, the window actuator begins to extend as the rod extends forward.

Chain Actuators

These actuators are available in single and double variations. Single chain actuators are fitted to vertical windows, while double-chain actuators are better suited for wider windows that cannot be opened in one go. Chain actuators work similarly to a rack and pinion actuator. A chain is engaged along with the pinions, which is mounted on a drive shaft. As the pinions begin to spin, the chain links are rotated at a 90-degree angle. In the case of a window opener, the chain is attached to a window. As the chain reaches a straight form, the window is pushed open. When it retracts, the window closes.

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Advantages of Windows with Electric Linear Actuators

Currently, most industries and home settings are switching over to automated climate control systems not only for their benefit, but also for the benefit of a cleaner and greener environment. energy efficiency, cost-cutting, and beauty are where the strengths of these systems lie. Specific advantages of implementing these mechanisms are listed below.

Guaranteed Safety

There are no fossil fuels burned during usage thus no toxic by-products are produced. These can be detrimental both to individual health and that of the environment, hence this energy-efficient system is essential. In addition, some windows are impossible to reach and can prove quite dangerous when trying to operate manually. This is especially useful for skylights. Ensuring safety in the home can thus be achieved through the automated processes.


Multiple Functions

It is easy to install sensors to automatic openers to monitor CO2 levels thus enabling the ventilation system to regulate airflow. Secondly, temperature control and rain sensors can be used to open and close windows based on predefined temperatures. Lastly, smoke sensors can also be integrated to clear smoke through automated actuator vents on pathways and allow access for firefighters in case of a fire.


Convenience and Comfort

All automated windows are controlled simply with one button from anywhere in the house. The aforementioned sensors will also ensure ease and convenience as settings are tailored to one’s needs.


Options for Further Automation

Why stop with windows? One’s home and window automation can be further enhanced through automated blinds and shades, supplying further convenience and comfort.


Automatic Window Openers in Action

The video below depicts a demonstration of an automated sliding window opener with a basic upward movement. It is a system that measures both indoor and outdoor temperatures and, based on a user’s inputs, opens and closes. When the room is heated, the temperature sensor is activated opening the window. The temperature can be set to whatever degree the user deems comfortable.

This second video includes some DIY in setting an automatic vent opener in a dome greenhouse using linear actuators. The actuators have great lifting strength and can tolerate strong winds. The setup is quite easy and can be modified depending on the particular dome window.

The final video shows the opening and closing operation of a window using an automated (2-wire) linear actuator with a Raspberry Pi and/or Arduino. This is done through the use of a microcontroller board to create a control box and various other components to make the window automated. The window’s opening and closing mechanism use a single linear actuator.

Choosing a Window Actuator

Choosing a reliable window actuator means you need to make a well-informed decision, depending on the types of windows in your house or building. Subsequently, you can go through the different actuators and see which one fits your situation. Chain actuators will prove to be useful when you have high up openings, where the windows are difficult to access. Similarly, wider windows may require using twin chain actuators. 

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Linear actuators are capable of opening heavy duty roof domes and lights. Meanwhile, folding arm actuators work well inside hung doors and windows. Despite their small size, they play an important role in ensuring your windows are automated as conveniently as possible and serve their purpose well.

There is one common issue that can occur during this process which lies in the actuator. Actuators are the most susceptible part of an automated window opener set. It is also no secret that there are a lot of actuators currently in the market which are varying in quality and functionality. This correlates to the performance of the building, total cost, and client satisfaction. The quality of an actuator is essential in this process. Its intelligence must be sublime to ensure substantial back and forth movement.


Key Considerations for Selecting an Actuator

  1. How much weight it will push?
  2. Where the electric actuators will be installed for example outdoors or indoors.
  3. The type of window the openers will be fitted on such as awning, hopper, louver dome or skylight, sliding or casement.
  4. The type of controller. It is either one that operates dozens of windows simultaneously from a central control or one with a remote function.
  5. The noise level wanted.
  6. The level of pressure safety required. Many actuators don’t have pressure safety. Usually, actuators have varying closing force applied on two pieces of metal but, it's irrelevant when a finger gets in-between those edges. An actuator should have the ability to detect a stuck object and prevent a window closing by calculating the amount of current drawn then reversing it to release the object/item. The pressure safety’s sensitivity should be adjustable as it is an element of its configuration and operation.
  7. The switches and panels needed to fulfil the specific need of the sensors. For example, Smoke control panels, climate and temperature control panel with rain sensors, or an anti-trap control panel.


Why 12-Volt Actuators are the Best Solution for a Window Opener

The simplicity of the design of this actuator allows for incorporation to suit the design needs thus reducing maintenance costs. The 12V linear actuator (rated IP66) is both water and air-resistant. This makes it ideal for use in severe weather conditions. These actuators are also low on the noise level. Manual window openers with chains are usually loud and can cause interference during classes when watching a movie or listening to music just to name a few. 12V actuators on the other hand are designed to operate with the least amount of noise. Its precision-control is also exceptional. A linear actuator’s flexibility also supplied the end-user with an easy installation and set up to interface with your computer or portable device.



Motorized window actuators are a useful tool wherever you decide to apply them, be it your car, home, or anywhere else. There are different types to choose from based on your requirements and add-ons that can further enhance your automation experience. While automation is a relatively new market, there are still a lot of options available to homeowners in the form of smart home automation. What is yet to be seen is how this market will continue to grow in the future, and the added benefits it will bring to homeowners.