Automation is all around us, and much of it is driven by linear actuators. While it’s ideal to mount your actuator in a place that’s warm and dry, that’s not always realistic. Many applications are going to require an actuator to be mounted outdoors, directly or indirectly exposed to water and moisture. That’s likely why you’re on the hunt for a waterproof linear actuator.
Not all micro linear actuators are water resistant, and while some claim to be waterproof, the only way to tell whether or not an actuator will work in your specific application is to do your own testing.
There are a number of factors that affect whether or not an actuator will last in a wet or humid environment including, but not limited to:
- The IP rating of the device
- If the exposure is direct or indirect
- If the actuator is completely immersed
- If the water is fresh, salt, or another liquid solution all together
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.