Waterproof Linear Actuators - Key Things To Know

Waterproof vs Water Resistant

Electronic devices of all types including motion components vary in terms of how much water they can be exposed to. Though the terms ‘waterproof’ and water-resistant’ are sometimes thrown around interchangeably, they aren’t in reality. Waterproof means that a device can be exposed to water indefinitely and you can expect zero water ingress into the device. 

Water-resistant means that a device can handle a limited amount of direct or indirect exposure to water. This could mean anything from light splashing to limited or long-term submersion in water. Though there are actuators and other devices that are completely waterproof, these are specialized and generally much more expensive than standard linear actuators. 

When choosing an actuator for your application, the first thing to consider is the IP rating of the device itself. 

Linear Actuators and IP Ratings

An IP Rating simply represents the level of protection that a device provides against the intrusion of solid objects and liquids. IP Ratings have two numbers: The first number represents the level of protection that the device provides against the intrusion of solid materials. The second number represents the level of protection that the device provides against intrusion from liquids. 

When a manufacturer wants to assign an IP Rating for their product, they must have it tested by an independent and certified company. That company assigns a numerical IP Rating to the product. Having a certified IP Rating that a manufacturer can confidently make claims regarding the level of protection that their product offers. It legitimizes the item and gives the end-user to determine which products are going to more accurately meet their specifications. A more thorough explanation of IP Ratings can be found here.

What IP Rating Do I Need If My Product is Going To Be Used Outdoors?

This is difficult to say, as it depends entirely on the level of exposure to elements in your specific application. Some questions to ask yourself when choosing a product are: 

  • Will the product be directly or indirectly exposed to water via rain or splashing? 
  • Is the product going to be used in a humid environment? 
  • Is the product going to be mounted within a secondary enclosure? 
  • Will the product be exposed to dust, sand or insects? 
  • These things should help guide your decision making. That said, there is no substitute for user-testing to determine the best product for your needs.

Are Actuonix Actuators Waterproof?

No, we do not market our products as waterproof. Actuonix actuators have an IP rating of 54. This means that they are dust protected with limited ingress for 2-8 hours and limited ingress of water when exposed to splashes from all directions. It’s important to know that these are guidelines and how long an actuator can be expected to last depends on a variety of things including how regularly it is exposed and how directly it is exposed in your situation. Humidity, type of water (salt vs fresh), duty cycle and other factors will all come into play.

What To Do If You Need A Waterproof Actuator

The first thing that you need to do is determine exactly what level of exposure to water you can expect. If you’re looking for a device that can withstand direct spray from pressurized water or full immersion, you’re likely going to want to search for an actuator manufacturer that specializes in waterproof devices. As an alternative, you may be able to avoid this by mounting your actuator in a waterproof enclosure, or driving the motion indirectly via a rod, cable or slide rail with the actuator mounted safely away from water exposure.

Application Specific Testing

There’s no substitute for testing a product under the same conditions you plan to use it in. While we do in-house quality testing on every unit, it’s not possible for us to predict all of the potential environments and conditions that our actuators may be used in. For this reason, we recommend that when you select an actuator, you do some real-world testing to see how it performs in your application. This will lead you to conclusions about what the best choice is for your application. We hope that this article has helped you better understand waterproof actuators and helped you make a decision about what level of water resistant actuator you require for your application. We offer the largest selection of affordable micro linear actuators on the market. If you have any questions about our products, please reach out to our sales department.

Common Questions About Waterproof Linear Actuators

Why don't you make waterproof linear actuators?

Good question! Building a completely waterproof (submersible) actuator is inherently difficult, and even more so with micro actuators. When the shaft extends from the actuator, if it were completely airtight, it would create a vacuum that would either progressively slow the actuator down, or draw water in from outside. We have found that most of our clients are satisfied with an IP54 rating, and those who need a completely submersible actuator are best served by building an enclosure.

How long will an actuator last when exposed to water?

This is not possible for us to say exactly. "Exposure" can mean anything from exposure to humidity, occasional splashes or full immersion. Rated at IP54, our actuators can be expected to withstand splashing from all directions for a minimum of ten minutes as per International Electrotechnical Commission standards

Do I need a waterproof actuator?

Probably not. As we have shown above, IP ratings exist on a scale ranging from protection from vertically falling drops of water through to protection against high-pressure water jets, steam and full immersion. If your application requires only occasional exposure to small amounts of water or humidity, you likely do not require a fully waterproof actuator.

Do you have discounts for application specific testing?

Yes, we do. For OEM clients who are working to determine whether or not an actuator model will meet the specific requirements of their application, we typically offer a one-time development discount. If you are interested in testing Actuonix actuators in your application, reach out to us at [email protected] for more info on a development discount.

Browse Actuators From Actuonix Today

This article's breakdown of Waterproof Linear Actuators should help you identify exactly what you need. View our collection of actuators by model or industry today. As a leading manufacturer and innovator in the micro motion marketplace, Actuonix services companies big and small in a number of industries including aerospace, medical, robotics, and more. Get in touch with us today to submit an order or to submit an inquiry.