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Hydraulic VS Pneumatic – What’s The Difference?

If you or your business work within an industrial sector, you would have likely heard both the terms hydraulic and pneumatic before. You may also be aware that both of these systems offer an alternative form of power separate to that of electricity, it is in their usage however, that many struggle to tell the difference; due to them offering their own distinct benefits, its important that you select the right one to use within your machinery in order to reap maximum functionality.

Providing Power

Possibly the largest difference between hydraulic and pneumatic systems is via the medium in which they provide power. Pneumatic does so using air or gas, while Hydraulic does so using liquids or oil. While their function is ultimately the same – these variations can make it far more practical to use one of these systems over the other in certain situations.

In instances in which large amounts of power are required, hydraulics is frequently the system of choice. Due to having a large mass density, hydraulics can build up much higher levels of pressure to command up to 5,000 pounds per square inch of pressure. Pneumatics on the other hand only offers approximately 100; this makes it unsuitable for lifting or carrying heavy loads.

Speed and Safety

The high flow rate of pneumatic systems makes it a prime choice due to its speed. This makes it perfect for carrying smaller items or powering high-speed mechanical equipment. Due to being of a liquid nature, even the lighter of the hydraulic mediums cannot compete with the free-flowing nature of pneumatic systems.

Another benefit offered by pneumatic over hydraulic is that of environmental conservation. The air present within pneumatic systems is completely safe regardless of leaks and can be simply released harmlessly into the atmosphere when no longer needed. Hydraulics, on the other hand, frequently make use of liquids which can lead to contamination and could cause health risks if they were to leak in larger quantities. Pneumatics tend to be generally favoured by environmental companies and for machinery in highly sensitive environments such as hospitals.

Energy Consumption

Both hydraulic and pneumatic systems require a steady stream of electrical power in order to fully function; how they use that power – and how efficiently they do so – is where the difference lies. The main issue with pneumatics is that there is a constant need for air compression through a compressor; this can rack up quite a hefty energy bill when running for days at a time. The energy required for a hydraulic system is far lower since the same liquid or oil can be used over and over once the system is already running. This can lead to much lower energy requirements in the long run.

Contact TIS Hydraulics

At TIS Hydraulics we are experts in providing a range of eclectic hydraulic, pneumatic, and machinery component solutions across a range of industrial sectors. To find out how we can help you meet your mechanical requirements, contact us directly on 01224 775277 and speak to a member of our specialist team today.