Comparing Different NEMA Frame Sizes for Linear Actuators: Which One Is Right for You?


Comparing Different NEMA Frame Sizes for Linear Actuators: Which One Is Right for You?


Linear actuators are essential components used in various industries, from manufacturing to automation. They convert rotational motion into linear motion, enabling precise control over movement. When choosing a linear actuator, one critical factor to consider is the NEMA frame size. The NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) standardizes the frame size to ensure compatibility and interchangeability between various industrial devices. In this article, we will explore different NEMA frame sizes for linear actuators, understand their strengths, and help you determine the right size for your specific application.

1. NEMA 14:

Smaller and Compact with Limited Power Capabilities

NEMA 14 linear actuators are known for their compact size and reduced power capabilities. As the smallest frame size available, they are suitable for applications with strict space constraints. These actuators typically generate lower force outputs compared to higher NEMA sizes, making them ideal for lighter loads and small-scale operations. NEMA 14 actuators find extensive use in medical equipment, robotics, and precision laboratory instruments.

Despite their compact size, NEMA 14 actuators offer commendable accuracy and positional control. They are also energy-efficient, making them a cost-effective choice for applications that demand limited force requirements. However, if your application involves heavy-duty tasks or requires high force outputs, you might need to explore larger NEMA frame sizes.

2. NEMA 17:

Versatile and Widely Used for Various Applications

NEMA 17 linear actuators strike the right balance between size and power output. With a larger frame size than NEMA 14, they offer increased force capabilities while still maintaining a compact form factor. NEMA 17 actuators provide versatility and find applications in 3D printing, CNC machines, home automation, and many other industries that demand moderate to high force requirements.

The broader range of power outputs in NEMA 17 actuators allows for enhanced flexibility in designing your application. With their popularity, you can find a wide variety of compatible accessories and mounting options. Additionally, NEMA 17 actuators often offer better durability and reliability compared to smaller frame sizes, making them suitable for both professional and hobbyist projects.

3. NEMA 23:

Powerful and Reliable for Heavy-Duty Tasks

When it comes to heavy-duty applications, NEMA 23 linear actuators are the go-to choice. With a larger frame size and increased torque capabilities, they can handle higher force requirements without compromising precision and reliability. NEMA 23 actuators are commonly employed in industrial machinery, automation, and aerospace applications.

The robust construction of NEMA 23 actuators ensures they can withstand the stresses of demanding environments. They provide superior performance and longer service life, making them a preferred choice for continual high-force operations. While they might be bulkier than smaller frame sizes, NEMA 23 actuators offer greater power and are suitable for applications where size constraints are not a significant concern.

4. NEMA 34:

Extreme Powerhouses for Specialized Applications

NEMA 34 linear actuators represent the upper end of the NEMA frame size spectrum. These actuators are geared towards specialized applications that necessitate immense power outputs. While they are less common compared to smaller frame sizes, NEMA 34 actuators excel in heavy machinery, industrial automation, and challenging environments where substantial force is required.

The larger size of NEMA 34 actuators allows for larger motors and more substantial structural components, ensuring exceptional torque and strength. As a result, they can handle demanding tasks that involve moving heavy loads and overcoming significant resistance. Keep in mind that NEMA 34 actuators are typically costlier and require more robust control systems due to their high-power requirements.

5. Choosing the Right NEMA Frame Size:

When selecting the appropriate NEMA frame size for your linear actuator, carefully evaluate your application's specific needs. Consider the force requirements, available space, and any other environmental considerations. Here are some essential factors to consider during the decision-making process:

- Force requirements: Determine the maximum force your application requires to ensure the chosen NEMA frame size can handle it effectively.

- Available space: Assess the physical dimensions of your application to determine if size constraints limit your choice of NEMA frame size.

- Budget: Consider the price range of different frame sizes, as larger NEMA sizes may be more expensive due to their increased capabilities.

- Environmental conditions: If your application operates in extreme temperatures, humidity, or other challenging environments, ensure the chosen NEMA frame size can withstand these conditions.


When it comes to selecting the right linear actuator, understanding the various NEMA frame sizes is crucial. Each size offers unique advantages and is suitable for specific applications. The NEMA 14 is compact and efficient for lighter loads, while the NEMA 17 strikes a balance between size and power. NEMA 23 provides greater force capabilities for heavy-duty tasks, and NEMA 34 excels in extreme power requirements. By considering your application's force needs, available space, and operating conditions, you can confidently choose the appropriate NEMA frame size for your linear actuator, ensuring optimal performance and efficiency.


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