What is DUTY CYCLE in a linear actuator?

Understanding Duty Cycle in a linear actuator?

Duty cycle is defined as the ratio of a Linear Actuators running vs resting time. Expressed as a percentage a Linear Actuator that operates for 60 seconds, and then rests for 30 seconds would have a duty cycle of 75%. Duty cycles are typically 10-75% and mostly depend on their load.  The Duty cycle is simply the ratio of On to Off running time. 

How is Duty Cycle in a Linear Actuator Calculated?

Below is the equation for calculating duty cycle. The X-axis time and the Y-axis is essentially meaningless for the purposes of duty cycle because Duty cycle can be applied to many different devices or machines, and is only a one-dimensional property.  

What is a duty cycle in a linear actuator?

What is a duty cycle in a linear actuator?

Is duty cycle important in a Linear Actuator?

It depends. The lifespan of a Linear Actuator depends upon many things such as Duty Cycle, Percentage of maximum power been used, and its environment. One way to think of it, is if you drive your car at max speed constantly then its not likely to last as long as one that is driven carefully at lower speeds and allowed to rest.

Linear Actuators will fail quickly if they overheat. There are basically two ways to overheat a Linear Actuator, one is to run the Actuator at or near its maximum force capacity. And the other is to run it continuously at high force. When running at high loads the Motor inside is what tends to over-heat and this, in turn, makes the electrode brushes inside the electric motor wear faster until the motors wear through its brushes completely. It is possible to run a Linear Actuator at 100% duty cycle is the load is lower than its maximum capacity and not been used in an extreme environment. 

How to Lower Duty Cycle in a Linear Actuator

Lowering the duty cycle is simple to do but not always necessary. If the application you are using the actuator at is of low force or colder environments then you may not need to deliberately lower the duty cycle. If you are concerned that that environment is going to be too hot or that the force you need to these the Linear Actuator at is too high then you may need to consider getting an Actuator with a higher force rating than what you intend to use it at. So if you need 50lbs of force pushing or pulling, consider buying a 100-200lbs force Linear Actuator

Another option is to allow ventilation into your device such that the Actuators can cool down to keep a lower temperature. At a lower temperature, the brushes inside the motors will survive much longer. 

How do you control Duty Cycle in an Actuator

The best way to control the Duty cycle which basically means controlling the on and off time is to connect the Linear Actuator to some sort of a micro-controller. These controllers allow you to program exactly how long and when you want to operate your Actuator. Arduino's are the most common type of controller and they are very easy to program and use. Feel free to reach out to our Tech department to get help with this.  To view all our microcontrollers and Arduino's, click here.


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