Electricians don’t realize how good they are at hydraulics. The average electrician will run for cover when asked to work on a hydraulic application, thinking it’s best for mechanics or millwrights to tackle the dirty jobs. However, if an electrician takes what they learn about electricity and apply it to hydraulics, they often understand the concepts better than the casual hydraulic student.
On one hand, the physical properties are similar, such as pressure/flow and voltage/amperage. In hydraulics, pressure is the potential available to achieve work. It is energy available to create mechanical motion; more pressure means more force density and capability to create that motion.
If you’re an electrician, everything I just described sounds just like electricity if you swap out a few key words: “In electrics, voltage is the potential available to achieve work. It is energy available to create mechanical motion; more voltage means more force density and capability to create that motion.”
On the other hand, flow is the rate in which pressure is created; essentially the time component. Higher flow means a higher volume of oil moving at a given pressure. Also, higher pressure equates to higher flow for a given restriction.
If you’re an electrician, everything I just described sounds just like electricity if you swap out a few key words: “On the other hand, amperage is the rate in which voltage is created; essentially the time component. Higher amperage means a higher volume of electrons moving at a given voltage. Also, higher voltage equates to higher amperage for a given resistance.”
The comparisons don’t end there. Just like higher voltage allows for lower amperage per given horsepower requirement, higher pressure allows for lower flow per given horsepower requirement. High current requires large wire just as high flow requires a large hose. For both electrics and hydraulics, energy takes the path of least resistance, which is key to troubleshooting in either vocation.
Hydraulics and electrics are essentially brothers from other mothers. Personally, I am no electrical expert, but I often come across electro-hydraulic applications where the understanding of similarities has helped me contribute to the conversation about controls. I also use electrical analogies when speaking with electricians about hydraulic operation of a machine they’re working on.