2017.12.22

The Electric Shift in Outdoor Power Equipment

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Introduction

Technology in the modern world has allowed advancements in business, communication and quality of life; the outdoor power equipment market is no exception. The evolution of lawn mowers and tractors has allowed for machinery to become more efficient and environmentally responsible.  The electric linear actuator is a small component with immense benefits. Equipment that incorporates the electric linear actuator benefits from customization, increased performance, and lower maintenance costs.

 

The Evolution of Outdoor Power Equipment

Today’s outdoor power equipment (OPE) is quieter, cleaner, and lighter, with customizable features that have adapted to the evolving consumer preferences and demographics. The lawn mower is one example of how much the industry has progressed in the last century. 

 

The first lawn mower was patented in the 1830s, and by 1885 America was building 50,000 lawnmowers annually. As society shifted towards more land, space, and leisure time, it brought a demand for upkeep of parks and lawns. From the horse drawn mower to the invention of the zero turn radius mower almost a century later, both the commercial and residential sectors continued to mature into the mid 1900’s. Since the technology boom, the modern day mower continues to make advancements for user comfort and environmental consciousness. The decreasing costs of battery and electric alternatives have made it easier for manufacturers to incorporate these components to replace their oil and hydraulic predecessors. 

 

Hydraulic vs. Electric equipment

Since the EPA began to regulate the emissions of lawn mowers in 2008 , the outdoor equipment industry has continued to innovate greener and cost efficient solutions for manufacturers. This is exemplified through the shift from hydraulic lift systems to the electric linear actuator. The simple design of the electric linear actuator can replace an entire fluid system, resulting in lower component and maintenance costs as well as any associated risks.

 

   Hydraulic    Electric
   Complex system of hoses, pumps and oil tanks    Simple system of actuator, controls, and power source   
   Requires routine maintenance    Maintenance Free
   High energy consumption    Low energy consumption
   Positional feedback requires additional components and user support       Easy integration of positional feedback systems
   Risk of fluid leaks    No Fluid

 

The electric linear actuator system can easily connect to the equipment’s current power supply or controls. The customizable electric actuator system can integrate positional feedback without difficulty; from snow blowing attachments to tractor seat positioning, there are multiple applications for the electric actuator to be incorporated into outdoor equipment. These easily installed adjustments make equipment operators more comfortable and productive. 

 
Electric Actuator Applications
As the demand for electric and battery operated equipment increases, the features and attachments of the machinery must follow suit. The use of electric actuators ensures optimal results for a wide range of outdoor power equipment applications. 
 
  • Steering and Seat positioning
Adjustable seat and steering options for tractors and mowers improve ergonomics and reduce operator fatigue. 
 
  • Cutter blades
Locking of the blades in upward position
 
  • Mower deck 
Electric lift/lower of the mower deck
 
  • Clippings bagger
The bagger can be opened, tilted, dumped, and closed through integrated controls
 
  • Utility Vehicle
Simple and stable electric operation of UTV dump beds
 
  • Snow blower Attachment
Easy alteration of the auger box height and chute angle
 
  • Aerator attachment
Electric positioning of the aerating roller
 
 
TiMOTION Actuator Solutions
MA1 Series
The MA1 series linear actuator system is intended for applications requiring a durable, long life solution. Specifically designed for harsh working environments, the MA1 industrial linear actuator is ideal for use in heavy-duty machinery, industrial equipment and off road vehicles. 
MA2 Series
The MA2 series is considered an outdoor linear actuator, designed for durability and able to withstand harsh environments. Its IP69K protection ensures it will withstand high pressure water jets, as well as the ingress of dust and other solid contaminants. The MA2 also has optional Reed switches along the outer tube which allow users to adjust the stroke length. For improved control and accuracy of motion, the MA2 is a customizable linear actuator with many different feedback options depending on the application requirements.
 
TA2 and TA2P Series
Both the TA2 and the TA2P are compact, robust, and capable of performing well in certain outdoor environments. A more powerful motor makes the TA2P capable of handling load ratings up to 3500N (787 pounds) while retaining its compact size. In addition to the high power motor, the TA2P linear actuator is available with multiple choices for feedback sensors. Industry certifications for the TA2P linear actuator include EN/UL60601-1.
 
Limit Switches
An important component of an electric linear actuator is the limit switch: a multifunctional feature that protects the actuator from damage.  Limit switches control the fully extended and retracted position of the inner tube by electrically opening and closing power circuits. These switches protect the actuator from over extending or over retracting. In addition to cutting current, limit switches can also be configured to send a signal once tripped to indicate once a certain position has been reached. 
 
The overhead clutch, while a good safety feature to consider, should not be used in place of a limit switch. Regular dependence on the overhead clutch to stop the motor puts significant force on the actuator, causing damage to both the motor and the actuator. Over time this will result in more maintenance and shorter lifecycle of the equipment. All of TiMOTION’s electric linear actuators incorporate the limit switch, making the actuator more durable and reliable. 
 
Conclusion
The growing trend of electric machinery in the OPE market has created a demand for electric component parts. The electric linear actuator provides precise adjustment for numerous outdoor power applications. It is a simple yet powerful system that can replace hydraulic components to ensure that equipment maximizes productivity and reduces long run costs. TiMOTION strives to provide tough, dependable, fully integrated outdoor linear actuator systems that complement and improve modern day machinery. For more information on TiMOTION’s products, visit our website or contact a member of our sales team.  
 
Notes:
Wisniewski, Nicole (1999, November 22). Coming of Age: History of Mowers.
 
OPEI (2017). History of the Lawn Mower. Retrieved from http://opei.org/aboutopei/