I'm working on a project that requires four (4) electrical linear actuators to work together. They must be driven at the same speed, simultaneously. Let's assume that I have four identical actuators with the following characteristics:
-> 12V DC -> Max draw of 2.5A
(Something like these... http://bit.ly/1QXNqve)
These guys are all rated for 200 pounds or more, which is about 4 times the lifting power I need, and so I figure I can drive them all from a single power source, with the following characteristics:
-> 12V -> Max 6A
(Something like this... http://amzn.to/22m8D7j)
Now, what I'm wondering is whether I should drive them in parallel or in series? My understanding is that running them in series will draw, at most, the max 2.5A, but at a decreased voltage. It makes sense that they would each get about 3V (12V / 4 motors). Would the decrease in voltage only manifest as a decrease in speed, or also a decrease in lifting strength?
On the flip-side, running them in parallel will provide them all with the 12V they are designed for, but will limit their current to a combined 6A. It makes sense, then, that they would each get about 1.5A, assuming they are equally sharing the load (6A / 4 motors). Would the decrease in current only cause a decrease in lifting strength, or would it also cause a decrease in speed?
I assume that a combination of the two would land somewhere in the middle? (i.e. two motors in series, parallel to another two motors in series)
Please let me know if the logic isn't right. Makes sense to me, but my experience is that motors aren't exactly equivalent to resistors or other constant-draw components, particularly when one motor might have a slightly higher or lower draw/load than the others.
The application requires four actuators, but only a combined total lifting capacity of about 250#. Speed is not a huge concern, they are only required to travel about 15 inches in roughly a minute or less. The quicker, the better, but it isn't a huge deal.
Finally, is one method preferable over the other for maintaining nearly identical driving speeds? These actuators will be responsible for moving a platform, that must remain as level as possible while it is being raised and lowered. If the platform has a concentration of weight on one side/corner, will the opposing motors always drive faster? If I run them in parallel, it makes sense to me that the constant voltage should drive them identically, regardless of load.
I am trying to make this as simple as possible, and so want to avoid additional electronics for monitoring and changing speeds with microcontrollers, etc. Just a simple up/down switch, and hopefully everything else falls into place. The single power source is desirable for space/cost savings, as well as any slight variances in output that two power supplies might have. Math, sources, experience are all welcome!