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Single-Acting vs Double-Acting Hydraulic Cylinders

Double Acting General Purpose Hydraulic Cylinders

Hydraulic cylinders provide the unidirectional force required to power your industrial equipment for heavy lifting. Telescopic hydraulic cylinders, which are ideal for dump trailers and platform truck trailers, give the extended stroke lengths required for a range of versatile purposes. When purchasing telescopic hydraulic cylinders, consumers are frequently faced with the decision between single-acting and double-acting hydraulic cylinders. Learn what distinguishes the two types of telescopic cylinders to determine which cylinder is appropriate for your high-power hydraulic requirements.

The hydraulic cylinder is the industrial world’s workhorse. Learn about the benefits and drawbacks of single and double-acting hydraulic cylinders. The function of your cylinder decides whether you should choose a single-acting or double-acting hydraulic cylinder.

Single-Acting Hydraulic Cylinder

Single-acting cylinders generate force exclusively in one direction, whether it is a push or pull action. These are also referred to as “plunger” cylinders. They are utilized in lifting operations where hydraulic pump pressure stretches the hydraulic cylinder and a mass or spring retracts it. Single-acting cylinders contain only one port through which the hydraulic pump’s pressurized oil passes. This causes the piston to extend in one direction, compressing the piston’s spring. After releasing the air via the cylinder port where it entered, the spring or associated mass will retract the piston rod.

Single-acting cylinders are classified into two types: push and pull cylinders. The push-type, as the name implies, will allow the air entering to push the piston out of the cylinder. The pull-type hydraulic cylinder allows the oil entering the cylinder to pull the piston inside the cylinder. For one-way linear movement, single-acting cylinders are ideal. They are commonly seen in hydraulic jacks and forklifts.

Lower Cost Association

The lower manufacture, installation, and repair costs of single-acting hydraulic cylinders are an advantage. With only one port to operate instead of two, both piping and valve costs are significantly reduced.

Venting Requirements

The spring mechanism in single-action cylinder interiors necessitates venting, which provides the unit with an outlet to the outside world. Particles, on the other hand, can enter the cylinder and create potential malfunctions or a slow loss in performance if not adequately monitored.

Compact System Compatibility

Single-acting hydraulic cylinders are ideal for use with smaller equipment due to their single port and compact structure. Most of the time, if a smaller equipment design allows for ports, fluid transmission, and venting, then this cylinder will be extremely suitable.

The Benefits Of Single-Acting Cylinders

  • They make use of fewer seals than a double-acting cylinder.
  • They are cheap to manufacture, so purchasing one will not break the bank.
  • You will save money on valve and piping expenditures because there is only one port.
  • Their design is fairly simple, which means they require minimal maintenance.

Disadvantages Of Single-Acting Cylinders

  • Because of the spring’s opposing force, the thrust provided by the cylinder is reduced.
  • After a while, the spring wears out, causing the hydraulic cylinder’s strokes to be uneven.

Single-Acting Cylinder Are Used In:

Internal combustion engines, reciprocating engines, pumps, hydraulic rams, and jacks are all uses of single-acting cylinders.

Double-Acting Hydraulic Cylinders

Pressure flows from two ports in double-acting hydraulic cylinders. The “advance” hydraulic hose fitting connects to one of the ports. The pump’s hydraulic power forces the cylinder to extend via the first port. The “retract” hydraulic hose fitting is connected to the second port. Hydraulic power is used to extend and retract the cylinder in a double-acting hydraulic cylinder. In contrast to the single-acting cylinder, which produces force in only one direction, force is generated in both directions. As a result, the cylinder may both push and pull.

The piston rod moves due to the push and pulls forces created by the pressurized fluid that alternates between both sides of the piston. These hydraulic cylinders have more control over their movement in the application where they are installed. Using 2-, 3-, or 4-way position valves, different levels of movement can be produced. Double-acting hydraulic cylinders are utilized in mobile applications such as a TLB’s boom or to control the steering of an excavator.

Extreme Versatility

Though this hydraulic cylinder is not appropriate for small places, double-acting hydraulics are extremely versatile. Two ports provide hydraulic power in both directions and are readily operated with a push-and-pull motion. As a result, they are the most popular hydraulic cylinder.

There are no venting issues.

Unlike single-acting variants, double-acting cylinders are sealed from the outside world. As a consequence, you will not require repairs as a result of particles invading inside pipes and valves.


Precision work that needs hydraulic pistons to stop at specific lengths regularly can stretch and deform the hydraulics over time. However, double-acting hydraulic cylinders are constructed with exact, very precise dual ports, enhancing the product’s longevity.

The Benefits Of Double-Acting Cylinders

  • They are more energy-efficient and consume less energy.
  • They can apply pressure in two directions.
  • Increased control over the movement
  • They are more powerful and faster than single-action cylinders.

Disadvantages Of Double Cylinders

  • Larger housing may be necessary.
  • They cost more than single-acting cylinders.

Double-Acting Cylinders Are Used In:

Large-scale engines (such as ship motors), industrial furnaces, digging machines, lift shafts, steering systems, and any other application when an external source of power is not present to retract the piston.


The choice between a double-acting and a single-acting cylinder is frequently a matter of control. How precisely do you need to be while exerting force in your hydraulic system? A single-acting cylinder may be sufficient if you need to produce a large force to move a load in a single direction, such as in heavy lifting applications. However, if you need to direct a load in two directions or have more control over the cylinder’s movements, a double-acting cylinder will provide you with more control.

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