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Hydraulic Lifts 101: Pros and Cons

Hydraulic Lifts 101: Pros and Cons

Hydraulic Elevators a Great Feat of Engineering

One of the greatest inventions of the 19th century has to be the elevator. Today, you would be hard-pressed to find a multi-level building without one. And for good reason: Imagine climbing to the top floor of a skyscraper without one. Or hauling freight up buildings without a freight elevator.

Elevators were even in use during the Pre-Industrial Era. Elevators we use today are a far cry from their rickety counterparts of the 1800s, but the basic principles are the same.

Today, there are three primary elevator types: hydraulic lifts, electric traction lifts, and machine room-less lifts. While each of these types of lifts has its own set of pros and cons, the hydraulic elevator is one of the most commonly used in modern society.

In this post, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of hydraulic lifts.

The Pros and Cons of Hydraulic Lifts

PFlow 21 series material liftThe hydraulic system is based on Pacal’s principle of transmission of fluid-pressure. Basically, the compression of fluids is used for the generation of control and power.

Here’s how it works: The lifting mechanism of a hydraulic lift works via an electrically powered pump, which pushes pressurized fluid into a jack lifting system. Pistons within a cylinder at the base of the lift then power the elevator car up and down.

These are the basic mechanics of a hydraulic elevator, which are helpful to understand.

The Advantages of Hydraulic Lifts

As we mentioned, the hydraulic elevator is one of the most commonly used types of lifts. This is due to the following advantages:

  • Hydraulic lifts are cheaper to install than other elevator types.
  • They occupy less space in a building, requiring almost 10% less area for the lift shaft.
  • They are highly effective with heavy loads, as the hydraulic power provides great lifting strength.
  • There is no need for an overhead machine room. Similarly, overhead structural requirements aren’t needed either. The load of the elevator is distributed to load-bearing walls.
  • You have the option of using a remote machine room.

Despite the popularity of the hydraulic elevator system, there are drawbacks to the system.

What Are the Disadvantages of Hydraulic Lifts?

There are some disadvantages to the hydraulic lift system. Those include:

  • The relatively slow speed. A hydraulic lift cannot move faster than 150 feet per minute.
  • Oil in the piston system can overheat fairly quickly, which is why an efficient machine-room control is important.
  • Hydraulic oil can leak out of the pumping system and into the ground at the base of the elevator. This can lead to soil contamination or groundwater pollution.
  • Hydraulic lifts tend to be a little noisier than other elevator systems.
  • The hydraulic oil can emit an unpleasant odor when it becomes too warm from overuse.
  • The lift movement is generally not as smooth as with other lift systems.

This being said, the hydraulic elevator is still by far one of the most successful feats of engineering and is used in many commercial buildings today.

Vertical Solutions for Your Business

No matter the load you’re looking to move, PFlow Industries offers a vertical solution for your business. With years of industry success to our name, we specialize in the manufacture and installation of hydraulic lifts, mechanical vertical lifts, and other vertical material handling solutions for businesses.

Looking for the best lifting solution for your application? Get in touch with us today.

Or, check out how PFlow hydraulic lifts brought new efficiencies to a manufacturing plant.

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