Hydraulic lifts are powered by hydraulic cylinders. These piston-like components have one tube tucked inside another tube with a vacuum and pressurized air controlling the lift and lower features. There are two kinds of hydraulic lifts: manual and powered. Read on to learn the differences between manual versus powered hydraulic lifts to better determine which option might benefit you most.
Manual lifts are controlled by human "power." They rely on human strength to power up and lower down with a lever connected to the hydraulic cylinders. You have to pump and crank the lever to get the cylinders to lift, and then depress a button on the lever or on the floor to release the cylinders and lower the lift. A really good example of this type of lift is a car jack. The car jack is placed at just the right point under the frame of the car closest to the flat tire you are trying to change. A pump-action lever is controlled by either a foot pump or a long-handled hand lever.
Power lifts require no human muscle to operate. These lifts are all-electric; the lifts work with a flip or push of a button or the press of an electric foot peddle. Another button lowers the entire lift either slowly or quickly back down again. Most people use the quick lower emergency button in instances where clear and present danger requires that the lift be returned quickly to the ground to prevent injury, damage, or death. Otherwise, the lift will lower slowly during standard use.
The benefit of using a power lift is that it can lift much more weight than a manual lift. If you need to lift a lot of building materials or scaffolding components into the air, these lifts are ideal. One such example is a scissor lift, which has a control platform big enough to hoist plenty of building materials up three-plus stories via a power hydraulic lift system in the base.
Another example of a power hydraulic lift is an under-the-car jack. These are placed under the center of the vehicle and can hoist an entire car upward so that all four tires are not on the ground. When you want to change and rotate your tires by yourself, this is the jack that can do it. Power lifts are great for anything that will require major heavy lifting.