Need a step-by-step guide to choosing your linear actuators? We have compiled the info you need to make the best choice for actuators in your home automation project. Contact Progressive Automations with any questions you may have. We're happy to help.
- 1. Everything you need to know about asking the right questions, selecting force, stroke length, speed and all the other considerations before you invest in any electric linear actuator for your home automation.
2. The Moment of Truth This is the question that will affect your entire project. Dont poorly plan this portion, because you may run into problems down the road. If youre automating your television so it pops up out of a box or chest, do you want to be able to sit down on your couch and use a remote? If you are automating parts of your kitchen, will the system be close to water or other hazards? Take your automation function from start to finish. What are the some of theengineering hurdles youll have to move around to make this project work?List Everything! List out all the potential problems, and solve them on paper before seeking out products. Once you have planned out the function, you can start thinking about the type of actuator that will perform the best for your project.Ask an Engineer If you want an extra set of eyes on your project, call your actuator manufacturer before you purchase and explain what you are trying to automate. They will have the resources and the experience to give you some solid suggestionsMore Help Check out this interview with Toni Klopfenstein on home automation to help answer some of your automation function questions. 3. Force Considerations This should be a relatively easy question to answer. You should be able to find out what weight of your entire project is fairly easily. Take into account every component that will be lifted by the actuator. Are there components that may be attached only some of the time to the automation project?Finding Force Without a Scale So, your bathroom scale cant fit yourentire project. Thats okay. It might take some simple mathematical equations, but there are a number of ways to find out the weight of something if you know the volume. Dont know the volume? Thats okay too. Measure the length, width and height of the object and multiply the numbers together. L x W x H. You now have your volume. You can now use the equation: mass = density x volume. If you dont know what your density is, you can consult any number of density tables on the internet. Go to Google andtype in density table for [oak, pine, plastic or whatever your material is]. Go ahead. Well wait here. Have your density now? Fantastic. Now complete the equation and you have your weight. When you are solving this equation, measure everything twice. If your weight calculations are off, it can affect your entire project. Its better to spec over than under. 4. Finding the LengthMeasuring the StrokeThe next part is finding the ideal stroke length for your actuator. Too short, and your project wont function. Too long, and you might end up putting too much pressure on the actuator motor. This can result in motor overheating and your project ending in a heap of broken parts and tears.If you dont know your stroke length, you can find it easily. Measure the length between your project when its fully retracted and fully extended. This will give you your required stroke length. Easy, huh? Take into account how long the actuator itself will be and where the mounting brackets will be placed. Each manufacturer will have differentspecifications for their actuators. 5. Fast Motion Every project will have different requirements for speed. All actuators will have limitations on the available speeds. If you are using a heavy-duty linear actuator, the max speed limit will be relatively low. Just keep in mind that the more you want to push, the lower the speed will be. The manufacturer should be able totell you what the no-load speed is and what the max-load speed is. The product specifications should identify what both speeds are. Count it OutActuators are measured in inches per second. If you dont know how fast you want your actuators to be count it out. Count how many seconds it takes for your project to get from its retractedlength to its extended length. When thinking about your actuator speed, keep in mind that if you select something too slow, you might get frustrated when it doesnt open or close fast enough for you. 6. What You Should Be Considering Mounting can be a tricky process. When you have a limited amount of space for your actuator, you might have to get creative. There are commonly a few options when it comes to mounting an actuator. The first option is a bracket. A bracket will attach to the actuator and to the base of the project. A bracket should have at least 180-degrees of flexibility. That way you can mount the actuator in the ideal position for the project.The second option is to get mounting brackets that fasten along the stroke of the actuator rather than at the ends. This is good if your actuator will be mounted on the wall of a project. For additional support, you can use both mounting options. 7. Wired or Wireless That Is the Question Control options are varied. Your project function will help determine what kind of control you require. For many home automation projects, the preferred method is wireless control. Wireless remotes are portable with a few simple buttons to control retracting and extending your actuators. Wired remotes can be more cost efficient, and they can also prevent instances of Where the hell is my remote!?Foot Control Some manufacturers may offer foot controls if thats what your fancy is. These keep both hands free and allow for better control. Rock and Roll Switches There are two types of rocker switches for actuator control. The first, a momentary switch, has only two positions. It will stop the moment you take your hand off the switch. The second, a non-momentary switch, has three positions. It will retract or extend until you put the switch back in the off position.These switches can be mounted on your application, on a wall or another place you find ideal. The Box You can opt for a simple control box that moves just one actuator, or you can opt for a box that controls multiple actuators. For actuator junkies, control boxes are available that control up to 12 actuators at once. Dont overdose. If you are controlling two actuators at once, they can be controlled together (simultaneously) or separately (nonsimultaneously). The option you choose depends on your function. 8. Battery Powered and Wall-Powered Awesome-ness Now that you know what kind of control over your home automation project you want, you can move on to the power. This is an easy choice, because youve only two options. AC or DC. Either you want your project to be moveable or you plan on keeping it stationary for its lifetime.Volts and AmperagePicking a Control BoxAgain, every project may be different. Think about how much voltage and amperage your project will need before you start buying products and plugging them in. You could end up with a brand new, unwanted hairstyle. If youre unsure of the power requirements, call up the actuator manufacturer and let them know what youre trying to do.From the last two slides, you should now have a pretty good idea about what kind of control box will fit your project. 9. Ingress, What?Ingress Protection is a set of two numbers (on rare occasions three) that determined what kind of environments your actuator may or may not be used in.We wont blame if youve never thought about what kind of ingress protection your project needs.The following table is an explanation of what the numbers of each IP rating mean.No.SolidLiquid0No protectionNo protection1Protection from solid objects over 50mm.Protection against vertical water droplets and condensation.2Protection from solid objects over 12.5mm.Protection from falling water droplets.3Protection from solid objects over 2.5mm.Protection from water spray in any direction.4Protection from solid objects over 1.0mm.Protection from water splash in any direction.5Some protection against dust.Protection from low pressure water jets.6Complete protection from dust.Protection from high pressure water jets.7n/aProtection from water immersion for short periods.8n/aProtection from water immersion for long periods.9n/aProtection from close- range, high pressure, high temp sprays. 10. Were not talking about finding color coordinated drapes that match your project. Were talking the awesome power of complete control over how your actuators function. There are any number of actuator accessories available. These are just a few that can be found. Speed Controllers They wont let your actuator go over itsmax-speed, but they do have the ability to slow down your actuators if you find they are moving too fast. Boots These are fantastic for outdoor automation. They are a simple, rubber boot that provides you actuators with extra protection from the elements.Programmable Timers These are meant to keep your actuators moving for a specified amount of time. You can walk away for a day and your actuators will keep on moving along. 11. You Get What You Pay For Price will always come into the mix. Theres not a whole lot to say about this except that if you choose an actuator solely based on its price alone, you might be getting a product that doesnt function. Price is at the end of this presentation because, ideally, you should be thinking about everything else before you get into price considerations. Put it at thefront and youre severely limiting your options. That being said, you dont have to spend a whack load of money to get an actuator that functions the way you want it to. There is always a reasonable middle ground. When thinking about automation, take into account the amount of money you stand to save because of automation. If youre automating windows to closewhen the temperature reaches a certain spot, how much money do you stand to save? When will the price of your actuators be recouped from the savings? 12. By now you should have an actuator that will match your function.