For many applications, linear actuators must not only be small and discreet, but also quiet. A quiet linear actuator is important in places such as medical facilities where increased noise could distract a healthcare worker or patient, or in product applications where too much sound could distract from the intended function of the product.
The same is true for home automation. Most of us enjoy a quiet home and as automation continues to find it's way into our home, the demand for actuators that product lower volumes increases. Volume is usually measured in decibels. Here is an accurate definition of 'decibel' from Google. More information can be found on Wikipedia.
a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound or the power level of an electrical signal by comparing it with a given level on a logarithmic scale.
Reputable manufacturers will provide a data sheet indicating how quiet an actuator is in decibels. That's great but if you don't know how much sound 80 decibels is offhand, that information isn't really useful to you.
Below is a decibel chart that you can use to help you understand how loud in decibels, typical noises that we're all used to actually are.
As you can see, the higher the rating in decibels, the louder the sound being made. This means that a noise rated at 70 decibels is louder than a noise rated at 60 decibels. Pretty simple right?
Quiet Electric Actuators
Electric actuators are typically quieter than other styles. Their simple design allows them to perform with less noise than electromagnetic, vacuum or pneumatic devices. Most electric actuators are rated below 65 decibels, which is fairly quiet.
While doing research for this article I was surprised to find that many actuator manufacturers do not offer a decibel rating for their devices on the datasheet. If you're considering buying a product, I would expect that type of information. Here is a section of an Actuonix data sheet:
Rating An Actuator
There doesn't seem to be a standard for distance when rating how quiet an actuator is. Of course if you went into another room and measured the noise, it would be far lower than if you put the measuring device right next to the actuator. All of the numbers on our datasheets are measured at 45cm from the device, or about how far you'd be away from it if you were working at a desk.
Some manufacturers will tell you that their devices are 45 decibels but not offer how far away the measurement was taken. Make sure to ask them what their testing standards are. As I mentioned above, the same device could rate 30 or 60 decibels depending on how close you're standing when you rate it.
Actuonix Motion Devices
We know electric micro actuators better than anybody, because it's all we do. Making quiet linear actuators is a top priority when our team is developing new designs. We offer a massive selection of over 160 automation products to help you maintain your peaceful environment.
If you're looking for electric actuators with low noise, give us a call. If we don't have an off the shelf product that will work for your application, we might be able to custom build one depending on your requirements. Actuonix has the experience to work with your company from the idea phase all the way through to testing and implementation. For more information, you can contact us any time between 7:30-3:00 Monday through Friday PST.