Understanding the Capacity of Hydraulic Cylinders | Hydraulic Cylinder Sizes

Size Matters: Understanding the Size and Capacity of Hydraulic Cylinders

Hydraulic cylinders are the ultimate workhorses, providing the force necessary to move heavy loads, operate machinery, and perform countless tasks across various industries. 

However, one critical aspect of why hydraulic cylinders are able to do these things is their size and capacity, which directly influence their performance and suitability for specific applications. 

As your hydraulics experts, we want you to understand just how significant the size and capacity of your hydraulic cylinders is to your project’s success, which is why we’ve used our expertise to put together this comprehensive guide!

Size: Cylinder Diameter and Length

  • Cylinder Diameter (Bore): The diameter of the cylinder's internal bore is one of the most crucial size parameters. It determines the force the cylinder can exert. Larger bore sizes result in greater force output. For instance, a cylinder with a 10cm bore will generate more force than a cylinder with a 5cm bore, assuming all other factors remain constant.

  • Cylinder Length (Stroke): The length of the cylinder's stroke, or how far the piston travels inside the barrel, is another important size consideration. The stroke length determines the cylinder's range of motion. For tasks requiring long strokes, a cylinder with an extended length is necessary, while short strokes are suitable for applications with limited space.


Capacity: Understanding Force and Pressure

Now that we’ve covered size, let’s get to capacity. This refers to a hydraulic cylinder's ability to generate force, and it depends on two main factors, hydraulic pressure and piston area. 

The formula to calculate the force generated by a hydraulic cylinder is:

Force (in pounds) = Hydraulic Pressure (in pounds per square inch or PSI) x Piston Area (in square inches)

  • Hydraulic Pressure (PSI): The pressure at which the hydraulic system operates has a direct impact on the force output of the cylinder. Higher pressure results in greater force, but it's essential to ensure that the cylinder and hydraulic system can handle the pressure safely.

  • Piston Area: The piston area is determined by the bore diameter of the cylinder. As mentioned earlier, a larger bore results in a larger piston area, which in turn increases the cylinder's force output.


Matching Size and Capacity to the Application

So, you now understand the size and capacity of hydraulic cylinders. But that means nothing if you don't know how to select the right size and capacity to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Here is what you should take into consideration when choosing the size and capacity of your hydraulic cylinders.


  1. Load Requirements: Determine the maximum force required to move or control the load in your application. Choose a cylinder with sufficient capacity to meet or exceed this force requirement.

  2. Speed and Control: Consider the speed at which the cylinder needs to operate and the level of control required. Smaller cylinders may offer finer control, while larger cylinders are suitable for high force applications.

  3. Space Constraints: Evaluate the available space within your application. Ensure that the selected cylinder can fit comfortably and operate effectively within the given space.

  4. Pressure Limits: Always adhere to the manufacturer's recommendations for hydraulic pressure limits to avoid damaging the cylinder or the hydraulic system.

Now that we’ve laid it all out for you, you will now understand why the size and capacity of hydraulic cylinders are pivotal factors in their functionality and effectiveness within various applications. 

At Rapid Rams, we are your hydraulics experts and we understand how the relationship between bore size, stroke length, pressure, and force output is essential in selecting the right cylinder for your specific needs. 

Contact us today and we ensure that we will provide you with high quality hydraulic cylinders that are the perfect size for your application so they can operate efficiently, safely, and reliably, contributing to your success!