power supplies

How To Choose the Correct Power Supply for an Actuator

Adam Morissette
Adam Morissette
PA Engineer

It is very important to pick the appropriate power supply for your electric linear actuator. You can have the perfect application design, the best actuator for your need, and a flawless mounting setup, but without the right power supply, your system will not function. In this article, we will be going over a few important points on how to choose the right power supply for your linear actuator.


Voltage Input

The power input of the power supply requirement depends on the users’ location. Progressive Automations generally carry a wide range of power input among the power supplies.

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 is needed, one will need to carefully study the technical specifications of the 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 one plans to use in the system. As a result, the nominal amperage the power source should have the ability to supply will be calculated.


AC Versus 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 the case of direct current, there is an additional complexity associated with the voltage regulation. In turn, the ease of AC voltage control allows for 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 losses due to reactive power. It thus 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 one 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 Versus 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. One would merely need to plug the device into a common power outlet. This will allows the system to work for as long as required without needing 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 the system is only using one linear 12-volt actuator, it is better to use a 12-volt DC actuator power supply. Such systems consume minimal power, which means they can be portable and are thus not dependent on the location of the outlets. For large stationary systems that require one or more 12-volt actuator motors, a 12V AC power source with an output current of up to 30A can be used. These are stationary and plugged into common electric outlets. However, such a powerful device must be configured, and beginners may have problems using it. One will need to set the input AC voltage to 110V or 240V. Then set the maximum current strength which should be no more than 5 amperes per drive. Only then can the actuators be connected to a power source, and the power source to the wiring.

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.


Stationary Versus 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 Linear Actuator Power Supplies

In some cases, one may need a waterproof power supply. When choosing one, carefully study the labelling. 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 a second number of five or higher. Ensure 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. Also, note that insulating elements must withstand voltages above 110V.


Voltage Output

The voltage output of the power supply chosen needs to match the linear actuator being used. Progressive Automations generally carry 12VDC and 24VDC actuators, but we are also able to custom produce 36VDC and 48VDC electric linear actuators. It is important to match the correct voltage between the actuator and power supply, or it might cause the application to underperform or even damaging the electric motor inside the actuator. The voltage requirement information can be found on the label sticker on the linear actuator, this information is also available on our website and datasheet.


Current Rating

The current rating of a power supply is a big factor in choosing the correct unit for an application. The general rule of thumb is that the power supply needs to have a higher current rating than the combined maximum current requirement of all the units connected to the power supply. It is ideal to overshoot the current rating requirement due to the potential extra load the system might experience that is outside of the design. The current drawn on the maximum load is on the Progressive Automations website and each product’s datasheet. We provide power supplies that have a current rating as low as 1 Amp, and as high as 40Amp.


IP Rating

The environment of the application can also dictate which power supply to use. If the application allows for an enclosure of the power supply or the power supply is located in a dust-free indoor area, not much consideration needs to be given to the IP rating of the power supply. However, if the power supply will be exposed to the elements, it is needed to select one with a sufficient IP rating. The PS-20-12-67 power supply that Progressive Automation carries has an IP rating of IP 67. It is well protected and is designed to use in an outdoor environment.


Portability and Space

Finally, one must examine how much space is available and if the power supply will need to be moved around a lot. Most power supplies that Progressive Automations carry need a wall outlet. The power supply itself converts the AC voltage to DC voltage to supply to the actuators. This will require some space for the cable to run to the wall outlet, and it is not very portable. If the application is short on space or the power supply needs to move with the application, it would be better to pick up a battery instead. Currently, Progressive Automations carry the AC-03 12VDC 5Amp battery, it is small in size and has enough current to operate the PA-14, PA-09 and PA-07 linear actuators.



To ensure the successful operation of your application, the correct power supply needs to be installed. Picking the wrong power supply could reduce the functionality of your application or it might damage your system. Hopefully, this comprehensive guide will aid your next project. For further questions feel free to contact us at sales@progressiveautomations.com.

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