Choosing the Right Voltage for Your Linear Actuator

Choosing the Right Voltage for Your Linear Actuator

Robbie Dickson
Robbie Dickson
19/10/23 ·


The task of selecting the appropriate voltage for electric linear actuators is fundamental to realize their full performance capabilities. This process is influenced by a spectrum of variables, including the actuator’s operational environment, its intended application, and specific requirements for speed and force. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the critical considerations and intricate details that will empower you to make an informed decision, ensuring optimal efficiency and performance of your electric linear actuators.

Power Availability

The type of power supply is paramount in determining the efficiency and performance of electric linear actuators. Unregulated power supplies, though cost-effective, may not be suitable for applications requiring precision due to their rippled output voltage. Linear power supplies, characterized by their transformation and regulation of AC to DC, are known for their consistency but are often less efficient and prone to heat dissipation. In contrast, switching power supplies stand out for their efficiency, lighter weight, and less heat emission, making them a preferred choice for demanding applications.

Number of Actuators

Planning for multiple electric actuators requires an acute awareness of their connection and the subsequent impact on power distribution. When actuators are connected in series, they share the supply voltage, which could lead to underperformance. Parallel connections, however, maintain the voltage and only increase the current draw, which is manageable as long as it remains within the power supply’s capacity. For enhanced reliability and performance consistency, especially for diverse electric actuators, utilizing individual power supplies is a strategic approach.

Voltage Drops

Voltage drop calculator

Above: image from our Voltage drop calculator

Voltage drops are a critical aspect often encountered when the power supply and actuator are at a considerable distance from each other. Various factors, including cable length, material, and cross-sectional area (AWG Cable size), play a role in determining the magnitude of these drops. Copper cables, recognized for their low resistance, are typically preferred to mitigate voltage drops, as is Gold but is typically too expensive. Additionally, environmental factors, such as temperature fluctuations, can also influence voltage stability, underscoring the need for comprehensive planning and assessment to ensure consistent actuator performance. We have written a comprehensive Blog post with a built-in Calculator for understanding how voltage drops over distances. 

voltage drop over wire distances

Difference Between 12V and 24V in Actuators

Typically Electric Actuators come as standard in 12v or 24vdc. 12Vdc Actuators are common in home and mobile applications such as cars, campers, trucks and boats because their exisiting power supply is already 12v.  For 24v Actuators, these are typically used in Industrial type applications. Understanding the distinctions between 12V and 24V electric linear actuators is crucial, as these differences impact not only their performance but also their suitability for specific applications. Both voltages have unique characteristics and advantages, shaped by their internal motor design, speed, and power output capabilities. 

For 12V Motors:

  • Fewer Windings: There are generally fewer turns of the coil.
  • Thicker Wire: The wire used is thicker, which can sometimes mean it has a lower overall resistance.
  • Standard Material: While still efficient, the material might be of standard quality to be cost-effective.

For 24V Motors:

  • More Windings: These motors usually have more turns in the winding to adapt to the higher voltage, increasing the resistance and inductance to prevent excessive current flow.
  • Thinner Wire: The wire is generally thinner but is made of high-quality material to handle the increased power and heat dissipation requirements.
  • High-Quality Material: The materials are often of higher quality to efficiently conduct electricity at increased power levels and manage the associated heat.

In Application:

  • The 12V motor is optimized for applications that require less power, and it is more energy-efficient and cost-effective for lighter tasks.
  • The 24V motor is designed for more robust applications where higher speed and force are needed, with enhanced performance characteristics to handle inreased power and operational demands efficiently.

    Speed Performance

    Typically, 24V actuators are faster than their 12V counterparts. The increased voltage provides higher speed operation, making 24V actuators more suitable for applications where rapid movement is a priority. However, 12V actuators are still highly efficient and offer a balance of speed and power that caters to a wide variety of needs.

    Power Output

    When it comes to power, 24V actuators often deliver higher force output. The increased voltage translates to enhanced energy transfer, enabling these actuators to lift or push heavier loads. On the other hand, 12V actuators might be more appropriate for applications that require less force but seek the benefits of lower power consumption and compatibility with a broader range of power supplies.

    Internal Motor Design

    The difference in voltage ratings is rooted in the design of the DC motors housed within the actuators. A 24V motor is designed to handle higher voltage, resulting in faster rotation speeds and increased force output. It consists of windings and components that are optimized for this higher voltage level, offering enhanced performance, efficiency, and durability under more demanding operational conditions. Conversely, a 12V motor is crafted for reliability and efficiency at a lower voltage, making it a versatile option for a diverse array of less demanding applications.

    In summary, the choice between 12V and 24V electric linear actuators hinges on specific application requirements, including desired speed, force output, and operational conditions. By understanding the inherent differences between these two options, users can make informed decisions that align with their project’s objectives, ensuring optimal performance, efficiency, and longevity of the actuator in its designated application.

    Speed and Force

    The interplay between speed and force is integral to the effective functioning of electric linear actuators, with distinct variations observed when comparing 12V and 24V models. On average, 24V actuators can exhibit around 50% increase in speed and a similar or higher percentage elevation in force compared to their 12V counterparts, owing to the amplified electrical input.

    In specific terms, 24V actuators typically present enhanced force outputs, attributed to the higher energy levels fed into the system. This augmentation in force does not compromise speed; instead, the increased voltage inherently boosts the actuator’s operational velocity, enhancing its overall performance and efficiency. It’s a common observation that a 24V actuator could potentially operate at a pace that is 50-100% faster while delivering increased force, making them a preferred option for applications necessitating swift movements and robust force.

    FIRGELLI Automations’ Options

    FIRGELLI Automations takes pride in offering a diverse range of electric linear actuators, engineered for compatibility with various voltages. Our power supplies are meticulously designed to complement the actuator’s specifications, ensuring seamless integration and optimal performance. When selecting, it’s crucial to match the power supply's voltage and current ratings with the actuator’s requirements, mitigating risks of overheating and ensuring sustained efficiency and durability. Our Standard off-the-shelf Actuators are either 12 or 24vdc, and for custom applications we can change this to whatever the customer requires. 


    The convergence of voltage selection, power supply type, and operational requirements forms the foundation for the efficient and reliable performance of electric linear actuators. By intricately navigating through these considerations, backed by insights offered in this guide, users are positioned to make informed decisions. Every detail, from mitigating voltage drops to optimizing speed and force, contributes to enhancing the actuator’s operational lifespan and efficiency, aligning with the diverse and dynamic demands of various applications.

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