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Hydraulic Car Lifts – How Single and Double Hydraulic Pumps Differ

Whether you are buying a car lift as a car enthusiast looking to work on vehicles as a hobby, or an automotive shop looking for a new lift—buying a car lift is a big decision. There are multiple factors you should weigh when planning on which type of lift to purchase. What kind of vehicles am I hoping to work on? What size lift will I need? What type of lift should I buy? This last question is important in understanding what kind of car lifts are available and what makes them different. For example, some car lifts you see will use chains to pull automobiles upward. However, another way to lift a car is with hydraulic power. This article will help you understand how hydraulic lifts work and the difference between a single-acting and double-acting hydraulic cylinder. This will allow you to have the information to make the best available purchase. 

How Do Hydraulic Lifts Work?

First, it’s important to understand what hydraulic power is and how it works in place of the chain system of other lifts. Car lifts that use hydraulic power will move cars upward when a pump in their structure pushes a liquid from a fluid container to a hollow cylinder. The cylinder then fills with the liquid, forcing the piston component inside to move upward, which creates the movement of the lift. To lower a vehicle, the process is reversed. This is a basic understanding of how car lifts that utilize hydraulic power works. With this understanding, you can now start to look at how this source of power can be more advantageous than a typical chain system for lifting vehicles.

Advantages of Hydraulic Car Lifts

Car lifts that take advantage of hydraulic power and the use of hydraulic cylinders have unique advantages over their chain-powered counterparts. Here are a few reasons why you should consider a hydraulic-powered car lift.

  1. SPACE EFFICIENT- A car lift that uses a hydraulic system takes up less space than its chain counterpart. A chain lift will need room for its beams so the chains can move, so you can operate the lift and move the lift or down. Hydraulic lifts can be more compact because they push from the bottom instead of incorporating the “pulling” motion of the chains.
  2. LESS PARTS- Car lifts that use a chain to lift a vehicle have many moving parts that it utilizes to move a vehicle upward or downward. This exposes more parts and equipment to be strained or to not work correctly, which have you needing to replace parts or your lift. However, a hydraulic lift is simpler in its design and function—making it easier to maintain and less parts to worry about.
  3. SINGLE CYLINDER OR DOUBLE- Lastly, you have the choice with the hydraulic power of a single acting hydraulic cylinder or double acting hydraulic cylinder. Both have different advantages that could work for different types of consumers.

Single vs Double

Power and hydraulic cylinders go hand in hand. Hydraulic power has become a staple of the industrial world—with power and reliability that can be counted on. From the biggest movers to car lifts, they are widely used to get multiple jobs done. However, there’s more to hydraulic power than just the science behind it that was discussed above. There are single-acting hydraulic cylinders and double-acting hydraulic cylinders, and both have their advantages.  By learning the differences between the two, you will have the information necessary to determine which is best for you to purchase.

Advantages of a Single Acting Cylinder

A single-acting hydraulic cylinder is less involved than a double-acting hydraulic cylinder, making it easier to maintain. The cylinder’s action is determined entirely by the pressure on one line. Oftentimes they will have a spring to push or retract the piston rod, or they might rely on the force on end to push it back. The simplicity of the operation makes it more reliable, and fewer parts are being tasked with lifting the vehicle. The simplicity of the single-acting hydraulic cylinder makes it easier to manufacture and repair, leading to cheaper costs associated with the product. Lastly, Due to their single port and small housing, single-acting hydraulic cylinders work well with smaller equipment and spaces. While a single-acting hydraulic cylinder may work for some, others will need the benefits of a double-acting hydraulic system. 

Advantages of a Double Cylinder

A double-acting cylinder alternates cycles of pressurized fluid to both sides of the piston, creating the ability to extend and retract forces to move the piston rod, allowing more control over the movement. Due to this, double-acting hydraulic cylinders allow for additional versatility. While a single cylinder may be best if you’re moving in only one direction, a double cylinder can operate in multiple directions and offer additional control. The two ports make hydraulic power available in both directions and are easily controlled with an effective push-and-pull motion. Therefore, the double-acting hydraulic cylinder is the most used for hydraulic power.

Now that you understand the differences between single-acting and double-acting hydraulic cylinders, you can make an educated purchase on which is best for your needs. 

Find the Right Lift for Your Operation With SVI International

Whether you decide on an automotive scissor lift, a four-post lift, or any other lift model, it’s imperative that you purchase your lift and lift replacement parts from a highly reputable company. At SVI International, we are the industry’s leading supplier of auto lifts and lift repair parts for all types of automotive lifts.

With over 40,000 products, our diverse product line serves as a one-stop shop for equipment parts, lifting equipment, fluid delivery products, RELS brake lathes, and so much more.

We know that downtime can be costly, so our 3 ready-ship warehouses provide on-time delivery and same-day shipping for in-stock parts.

An SVI specialist would love to get in touch about serving your needs, including any questions or concerns you may have. To get in touch, give us a call at (800) 321-8173 or complete our online contact form. We always respond quickly!

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