Do you have a preference when it comes to window actuator types? Or do you let the job at hand decide? In this article, we’ll explain the different window actuator types and help you decide which one fits your project best. Additionally, we will explain why we recommend a folding arm actuator over a linear or chain drive for roof window and skylight automation.

What are the three window actuator types?

  1. Chain Drive
  2. Linear or Spindle Actuator
  3. Folding Arm Actuator

Electric Chain Actuators

Electric chain actuators are most commonly used to open corridor windows and are perceived as the aesthetical choice. Due to their smaller dimensions, however, chain drives can lack the power to automate most rooflights or skylights.

The benefits of electric chain actuators:

  • Easy to install
  • Wide range of programmable options
  • Ease of control
  • Affordable price cost
  • Visually appealing
  • Synchronisation options

Read more about the advantages of chain actuators in our article 6 Advantages of Electric Chain Actuators.

Electric Linear Actuators

Since electric linear actuators are more powerful than electric chain actuators, they lend themselves better to automating rooflights and skylights. Although the greater power is an achievement, visually linear or spindle-type motors can be intrusive and lack the aesthetic appeal modern buildings look for.

Folding Arm Actuators

Folding arm actuators are the best window actuators for facades and roofs. Not only are they designed and tested for use in smoke and heat ventilation, but folding arm actuators can also control natural ventilation. Actuators of the “folding arm” type have special kinematics and their high-performance gear (> 20,000 LW) in combination with the stainless steel lever arms is very resistant to variable loads (wind, snow). The symmetrical design and its compact size make this automatic window opener ideal for projects with high aesthetic demands – especially when it comes to large heavy windows. All folding arm actuators are tested and certified according to EN 12101-2 together with various profile series for use as natural smoke and heat exhaust ventilation devices.

The benefits of Folding Arm Actuators:

  • Aesthetically, the folding arm is unobtrusive and is usually installed on the side closing edges and can be RAL coloured.
  • Powerful by design, the folding arms are rated up to 1000N and can be paired for heavier and larger applications.
  • The folding arm is precision designed to offer a greater level of performance, durability, and flexibility.
  • It is a ventilation revolution offering safe, reliable opening in under 60 seconds and larger opening angles.

What is the best window actuator for automating roof or skylights?

Automating roof or skylights allows natural light into indoor spaces within a building, distributing light offers many benefits to any space. Daylight is proven to improve the health and wellbeing of the occupants. Many studies have proven that productivity is also improved in a work environment. The 1990 ‘Light and Health’ research study identified that daylight was crucial for the health of working people. Further studies also found that exposure to natural light improved workplace performance and vitality.

The choice of actuators does vary, and different actuators can be used to carry out the same function. But did you know that there are benefits to choosing one type of window or skylight actuator over another?

Specification of actuators on a roof or skylight application needs to factor in aesthetics, power, and performance.

Folding Arm Actuators for automating roof and skylights

Folding Arm ActuatorFolding arms drive innovation and are specifically designed to automate roof and skylights, backed with a 3-year warranty and calculation software, ensuring your specification and installation are correct. With kinematics and high-performance gearing, combined with the stainless-steel lever arms, folding arm actuators overcome the resistance to changing wind and snow loading that are rarely factored into designs.

Shop our Folding Arm Actuators online

Share this post:


Under the Construction Products Regulations (CPR) it is a legal requirement to use only certified products for smoke ventilation. It is the responsibility of the installer to ensure installations meet the relevant standards. For more information see SCS Group’s Technical Bulletin here.