8 Types of Hydraulic Cylinders you Can Choose for your Systems

Cylinders are the driving force behind hydraulic systems. It is actually from these hydraulic cylinders that your systems can work efficiently.

However, choosing the right cylinder is very critical. A reason this guide explores all types of hydraulic cylinders, features, working principles and configurations, among other critical aspects.

What is a Hydraulic Cylinder

Hydraulic cylinders are functional actuators. This component is responsible for converting hydraulic energy and generating the necessary mechanical force required for the machine to operate. That is, your hydraulic cylinder produces a lot of mechanical energy capable of lifting and moving incredibly heavy objects.

Types of hydraulic cylinders and their features

There are a diverse number of hydraulic systems incorporated into different applications. These applications range from advanced aviation systems to simpler construction systems.

Depending on your unique applications, you can choose any of these cylinders:

1. Single Acting Cylinders

These cylinders have a one-way port. The piston rod expands to accommodate either fluid or gas when it is introduced to the system. External pressure is applied to revert the expansion, a load string can also be used for the same purpose. They are equipped with a spring that is responsible for the movement of the piston and the port fluid. There is a seal on the piston’s head that ensures that the fluid stays put.

Single Acting Cylinder
Single Acting Cylinder


The advantages of single-acting cylinders include;

  • They have a compact design that is suitable for applications with limited space
  • The design is simple to understand and therefore easy to use
  • Maintenance can be easily conducted
  • They do not cost a lot and are therefore economically feasible
  • It performs its function exemplary providing the required force needed to execute various tasks


There are a few disadvantages to using this type of cylinder. The disadvantages include;

  • Its retractable spring is prone to wear and tear which leads to a damaged component
  • They are cumbersome to seal
  • It is not corrosion-resistant and will therefore be damaged when exposed to fluids with corrosive properties.


Single-acting cylinders can be used for a variety of applications. You can use these hydraulic systems for:

  • Hydraulic rams
  • Construction plants
  • Jacks
  • Internal combustion engines
  • Reciprocating engines
  • Pumps

2. Double-acting cylinder

The double-acting cylinders contain connection ports on the rod and the head. The two ports provide a bidirectional passage which allows for increased fluid movement making it more efficient. Hydraulic force is utilized to push and pull the plunger from their respective ports. The piston rod in this type of cylinder can have pressure applied to it on both sides. External force is not required to achieve the movement when pressure is present. The double-acting cylinder is equipped with a ram lip which provides extra support to the rod.

Double-Acting Cylinder
Double-Acting Cylinder


There are several advantages to using this type of cylinder. These advantages include;

  • The double-acting cylinders are readily available as they are popularly used
  • This cylinder offers a better-controlled and much faster reaction
  • It offers a more controlled acceleration
  • They have energy-saving features making them more sustainable.
  • It does not require a large amount of hydraulic fluids to function
  • The double-acting cylinder is a precise and versatile device that be used for a broad range of applications.


The limitations of the double-acting cylinder include;

  • Needs more space for installation and is therefore not suitable for systems with limited space
  • It costs a bit more to purchase the cylinder
  • Requires skill to operate as it may need different parameters to function properly.


The efficiency of this cylinder makes it suitable for heavy-duty engines and applications. You can consider these cylinders for:

  • Digging machines
  • Ship motors,
  • Industrial furnaces
  • Lift shafts
  • Steering mechanisms.

3. Tie-Rod Cylinder

This type of hydraulic cylinder has a steel rod that is threaded. Threading is done to reinforce and strengthen the rod. They are fitted with two caps at the end that seal in the fluids. It consists of a barrel, head, and base held together by four or more tied rods. Larger cylinders can contain up to twenty tie rods. It can be used to lift heavy objects as well as push and pull them.

Tie-Rod Cylinder
Tie-Rod Cylinder


The benefits of this hydraulic cylinder include

  • Components of the cylinder are easy to assemble and easy to use
  • They can easily take part in making maintenance easier
  • The cylinder is economical as it costs less to purchase


There are a few disadvantages of tie rod cylinders. They include;

  • These hydraulic cylinders are not very durable and have a shorter service life
  • There are only limited designs and as such can only be used for specific applications


Tie-rod hydraulic cylinders are mostly used for manufacturing purposes. These applications include

  • Agricultural equipment
  • Construction Equipment
  • Conveyor systems
  • Mining and extraction equipment

4. Welded cylinders

Welded cylinders get their name from their end caps that are welded at the end of the barrel. The ports are also welded to the cylinder’s barrel. The rod gland at the front is threaded into the barrel cylinder. This provides an allowance for the rod assembly and seals to be easily removed.

Welded Cylinder
Welded Cylinder


Benefits of using this type of hydraulic cylinder include;

  • The welded connection makes it stronger and therefore more suitable for heavy-duty applications.
  • It is suitable for use in high-pressure applications
  • This hydraulic cylinder can be customized to suit different applications
  • Has a more compact design allowing it to fit in systems where space is limited.
  • It is very durable


The limitations of this type of cylinder include;

  • They are harder to maintain as it cannot be easily disassembled
  • The design is complicated am therefore requires skilled help to properly install and operate it
  • It cannot be easily repaired


The welded cylinder can be customized making it versatile. Its strength and ability to withstand pressure makes it useful in various field. Among the key applications you can consider include:

  • Construction Equipment
  • Material handling equipment
  • Industrial-grade equipment
  • Mining purposes
  • Automotive

5. High-Tonnage cylinders

This type of hydraulic cylinder comes in a variety of designs. The designs include single-acting and double-acting designs. High tonnage is used to refer to its weight tolerance. They are used for lifting extremely heavy objects. It has a weight limit of up to 1000 tons.

The support bearings for the composite plunger can be replaced. They can also be used to push and pull loads. It contains seals that withstand high pressure and are wear-resistant.

High-Tonnage Cylinder
High-Tonnage Cylinder


  • It is very efficient in lifting heavy loads
  • It has more side-bearing protection
  • The high-tonnage cylinder has great stability
  • Can withstand a lot of pressure


Limitations of this type of cylinder include;

  • They are expensive to purchase as well as to manufacture
  • It is difficult to maintain and often requires expert help
  • Utilizes a lot of energy which makes it unsustainable.


The high-tonnage cylinder is used for several heavy-duty applications including:

  • Operating heavy machinery
  • Bridge engineering
  • Water conservancy projects
  • Port construction

6. Telescopic cylinder

The telescopic hydraulic cylinder gets its name from it is design. It consists of tubes that are arranged according to size in decreasing order so that they fit into each other.

Besides, the tubes are typically made of aluminum or steel. The tubes are referred to as stages this cylinder can have up to five or more stages. Telescopic cylinders can therefore be categorized according to the number of stages they contain. They come in both single-acting and double-acting types.

Telescopic Cylinder
Telescopic Cylinder


There are advantages to using this hydraulic cylinder. These cylinders include

  • They can be used in areas where longer strokes are needed as the stages can be extended.
  • It has a compact design that allows it to fit in limited spaces as the stages fit into one another
  • They can easily be angles to meet the requirements of the work


The limitations you may encounter when using this type of hydraulic cylinder include;

  • The more it extends the less load it can carry.
  • It requires space to fully utilize its features
  • It is not cost-friendly


Among the main applications you may consider for this type of hydraulic cylinders are:

  • Construction
  • Motor vehicle applications and accessories
  • Agricultural industry.

7. Lightweight cylinders

Lightweight cylinders get their names from their mass. These types of cylinders are made with lightweight materials such as aluminum. They come in different variations suited for different purposes.

Lightweight Hydraulic Cylinder
Lightweight Hydraulic Cylinder


  • They do not weigh a lot and are therefore highly portable
  • Materials like aluminum offer protection against corrosion
  • They are cost-effective


  • They are only suitable for light loads
  • It is not as durable as other hydraulic cylinders


The uses of lightweight cylinders are better suited for small-scale applications. They can be used in

  • household items
  • Vehicle
  • Agricultural equipment among other applications.

8. Hollow Plunger Cylinder

This cylinder has a collar that is threaded inside its plunger and an open center. This threaded section is ideal for hooking up attachments which are then used to pull, push, or lift heavy objects. They are different types including single-acting and double-acting hollow cylinders.

Hollow Plunger Cylinder
Hollow Plunger Cylinder


There are several advantages of using a hollow plunger cylinder. These benefits include;

  • They are lightweight and are suitable for moving operation
  • They have a compact design
  • Hollow cylinders are simple and easy to use
  • They are incredibly versatile and can therefore be used with various systems


Limitations of the hollow cylinder include

  • It is slightly expensive to purchase
  • They are not suitable for high-pressure environment


There are many uses for this type of cylinder. It is commonly used to;

  • Production operations
  • Activities involving Pressing
  • Improving mechanical clamping
  • It can be used for Punching objects
  • Crimping


There are many types of hydraulic cylinders. They differ in structure and functionality. It is therefore best to select one that perfectly suits your requirements.

More Resources:

Hydraulic Power Pack – Source: TARGET HYDRAULICS

Hydraulic Cylinders – Source: IQS Directory

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