Cylinders Inc.
Certified women-owned business
Double Acting Hydraulic Cylinder vs Single Acting Hydraulic Cylinder: The Difference
  • Cylinders, Inc
  • Blog
  • Double Acting Hydraulic Cylinder vs Single Acting Hydraulic Cylinder: The Difference

Double Acting Hydraulic Cylinder vs Single Acting Hydraulic Cylinder: The Difference


Pneumatic and hydraulic cylinders have a wide range of applications, all of which have their own requirements. It’s essential to understand the types of cylinders needed for different projects, and both single and double acting cylinders have benefits and drawbacks that should be considered before deciding which is right for your needs.

With either cylinder, it’s important to perform regular upkeep to avoid system failure. When a failure does occur, it’s imperative to get expert hydraulic cylinder repair to reduce downtime.

In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between the two, their pros and cons, and which is best for your project’s needs.

Single Acting Hydraulic Cylinder

A single acting cylinder is perfect for linear motion. Why? It’s all about forces. Pressurized air enters a single port from one direction and it forces the fitted piston to extend and push on a spring. This spring serves as an external force that will then push the piston back to its original position.

Essentially, compressed air applies pressure to the piston, and the spring pushes back, creating one motion. There are two single acting cylinder types. A push-type cylinder is when the compressed air pushes the piston out of the cylinder, while a pull-type pulls the piston inside of the cylinder.

Advantages of Single Acting Cylinder

Some of the greatest advantages of single acting cylinder include:

  • It’s easy to install.
  • The initial purchase is inexpensive.
  • It has a straightforward, uncomplicated design.
  • It only has one port and a small housing.
  • The valve and piping costs are much lower than that of a double acting hydraulic cylinder.

Disadvantages of Single Acting Cylinder

There are also some disadvantages to a single acting hydraulic cylinder, including:

  • The spring takes up much space and leaves a limited working area.
  • There is reduced thrust because of the opposing spring force.
  • As the spring is used, the pistons’ strokes will become inconsistent over time.
  • Compressed air needs preparation.

Double Acting Hydraulic Cylinder

What is a double acting cylinder? A double acting hydraulic cylinder works by utilizing two ports rather than one. Compressed air goes through one port to move the piston forward and then pressurized air from the other port pushes it back.

Because of the two ports, double acting cylinders work significantly quicker, extending and retracting within a short time frame. That’s why they’re used for so many different machine types and applications, because of their more precise and efficient movement.

Advantages of Double Acting Cylinder

Below are a few advantages of double acting cylinder:

  • They use less energy while being faster and stronger.
  • There is more movement control because the air moves two ways.
  • They’re more likely to be ISO compliant than single acting hydraulic cylinders.
  • Stroke and bore size variation.

Disadvantages of Double Acting Cylinder

It’s important to know the disadvantages of double acting cylinders like:

  • A more expensive choice than single acting cylinders.
  • They require bigger housing, meaning if they’re being used as a feed cylinder, then another system will be required.
  • Certain situations will necessitate air consumption being calculated at differing rates.

Single Acting vs Double Acting Cylinder: Differences in Work

When considering a single acting vs double acting cylinder, their function and purpose play the biggest role. The single acting cylinder function is simple, moving in one direction due to a force applied by compressed air or a plunger. It moves back using a spring or even just gravity.

A double acting cylinder is different because it can extend and retract much quicker thanks to its two ports. They move within a shorter period of time, making it more efficient and perfect for a wide variety of industries.

Single Acting vs Double Acting Cylinder: Which One Is Better for You?

The difference in design between single and double acting hydraulic cylinders means that they also have distinct uses and applications. When force is only needed in a single direction, like in industrial settings, single acting hydraulic cylinders are the best choice. Double acting cylinders, on the other hand, are more widely used because they're faster and more powerful.

Consider what you will be using the cylinder for — do you need precision? How much are you willing to spend? How much power does it need, will it need to run all day? These questions will help you come to an informed decision.


Now that you understand the differences between a single acting cylinder vs double acting cylinder, as well as the various pros and cons, it’s time to pick one and get to work!

Taking good care of your cylinders with regular maintenance, preventative checks, and filter changes will keep you out of the repair shop and in the field working for longer periods of time. However, over time every cylinder will need maintenance and repairs that only experienced professionals can do.

Our expert team of Cylinders, Inc. will help you! If you have any questions or your cylinder needs repair, please contact us!

Cylinders inc. team



Contact us

Get Expert Repairs for All Your Hydraulic Cylinders

Single or double acting, we can fix any hydraulic cylinder. Request a quote from our experts for reliable cylinder repairs.

Request Your Hydraulic & Pneumatic Cylinder Repair


Request Your Cylinder Repair Today

Have a question about our pneumatic cylinder repairs? Contact Cylinders, Inc. to find out more about how our experts can help, or schedule your repair service today!

Country: unknown
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.