Fluid Power Equivalent of Mechanical Horsepower
FLUID POWER - Design Data Sheet 27
The HP flowing in the piping of a fluid power system is
proportional to both pressure and rate of flow. Power can only be
transmitted if the fluid is moving under pressure.
The HP level determines not only how much load can be moved, but
also how fast it can be moved. Therefore, time is always involved
with HP ratings.
We have "become accustomed to using certain formula involving
PSI and GPM when figuring the power level of a fluid system. These
HP = PSI × GPM × 0.0005833,
HP = PSI × GPM ÷ 1,714
Both formula give the same answer. Of course these formula are
only good in the U.S. system of units. In Data Sheet No. 21 the
equivalent formula were given for SI (International Standards)
Many people have asked where these formula come from; how they
were derived; where the 0.0005833 and 1,714 come from? There are
several ways of finding the fluid power equivalent of mechanical HP
which by definition is: 1 HP = 33,000 ft-lbs per minute. We believe
the method described here will be more readily understood by people
who work with fluid power and who wish to avoid a complicated
How to Find the Fluid Power Equivalent of Mechanical
In this method we will use an imaginary hydraulic cylinder which
has a piston area of 1 square inch. Friction in the cylinder is not
pertinent to this demonstration, but will be taken into account
later as explained at the foot of this page.
We will supply this frictionless cylinder with an oil flow of 1
GPM (231 cubic inches per minute) at a pressure of 1 PSI. Since the
piston has 1 square inch area, the cylinder will produce a force of
If we allow this cylinder to operate in the forward direction
for a time of 1 minute, its piston will travel a distance of 231
inches (or 19.25 feet). Next, we compute the mechanical HP produced
by the cylinder at a flow of 1 GPM and a pressure of 1 PSI, based
on 1 mechanical HP of 33,000 ft-lbs per minute.
HP = 19.25 ft × 1 lb ÷
33,000 = 0.0005833 HP
This means that for every 1 PSI and 1 GPM in the circuit the
power level will be 0.0005833 HP. Therefore, if 1,200 PSI and 7 GPM
are present, the power level will be:
HP = 0.0005833 × 1,200 × 7 =
The figure 0.0005833 is, therefore, a multiplier times the PSI
and GPM to find the power level in the fluid stream. A more
familiar factor is to take the reciprocal of 0.0005833 and use it
as a divider:
1 ÷ 0.0005833 =
The above factors, 0.0005833 (as a multiplier) or 1,714 (as a
divider) are used to find fluid HP when working with common U.S.
units of PSI and GPM.
The fluid HP formula developed a hove will give an accurate
measure of the power flowing through the fluid. However, the
mechanical output of a cylinder or hydraulic motor operating from
this pressurized flow of oil will be less by the amount of losses -
mechanical and fluid - in the cylinder or motor; in other words, by
7 WAYS TO INCREASE SPEED OF AN AIR CYLINDER
On existing air systems if necessary to increase travel speed of
the cylinder, one or several of these modifications may be made.
Usually, a speed-up in only one direction is wanted - in the
direction of the heavier load.
Figure 1. Remove
flow control valve entirely from
rod port to get maximum speed in forward direction.
1. In-Line Speed Controls. Figure 1. Flow control
valves installed between valve and cylinder always restrict the air
flow and reduce cylinder speed to some degree even when wide open.
Internal passages in both needle and check valves are usually much
smaller than their connection ports. Cylinder speed in both
directions will be increased with them entirely. removed. In
Figure 1, the flow control has been removed from
Point A and retained in the rod port to reduce retraction speed. It
will still slightly reduce forward speed because of the small
orifice in the "free return" check valve.
Figure 2. Retain
needle valve (on dual exhaust 4-way valves),
only for direction where reduced speed is needed.
2. Exhaust Speed Controls. Figure 2. Needle
valves in exhaust ports of dual exhaust 4-way valves give less
restriction than in-line flow control valves (Fig. 1). The built-in
''free reverse flow" check valves of in-line flow control valves
contribute to pressure loss because the port size on the check
valve is usually less than the valve connection size. For maximum
forward speed and controlled return speed, connect one needle valve
3. Increase cylinder speed in both directions by raising, if
possible, the system pressure as set on the pressure regulator.
Since the regulator itself has pressure loss, it may sometimes be
best to remove it entirely. Caution! Do not raise pressure higher
than rating of components in the circuit. Some valves will shift
without being actuated when over-pressured, causing an
Figure 3. Add quick
exhaust valve in one or both cylinder
ports to reduce back pressure to increase speed.
4. Quick Exhaust Valves. Figure 3. These valves
may be used on single-acting cylinders and on one or both ports of
a double-acting cylinder. They increase cylinder speed by removing
most of the back pressure on the exhausting air. As installed on
Figure 3, the quick exhaust valve increases
retraction speed without affecting forward speed. A similar valve
could be installed at Point C to increase forward speed.
5. If practical, increase diameter of air supply line to machine.
Install oversize hose connections between valve and cylinder, then
bush down to fit cylinder and valve ports. Shorten lines connecting
valve to cylinder. Remove any fittings which have passages smaller
than the hose or pipe to which they connect.
Figure 4. Add air
storage chamber at 4-way valve
inlet machines where feed line is long or restricted.
6. Figure 4. If an air-operated machine is
installed at the end of a long distribution line and the pressure
is low because of restrictions in the long feeder line, or because
other machines rob the air before it reaches the machine, an air
storage tank can be installed near the pressure inlet of the 4-way
valve. During periods when the machine is not running, air volume
will accumulate in the tank and the pressure at the inlet of the
valve will be higher, on the average.
7. As a last resort it may be necessary to replace either the
4-way valve or the cylinder, perhaps both. Increasing the valve
size may give better results than larger cylinder bore if the air
feeder line to the machine is long and restricted. But if the
feeder line is large, giving ample flow, increasing the cylinder
bore will probably be more effective than installing a larger
Download a PDF of Fluid
Power Design Data Sheet 27 - Fluid Power
Equivalent of Mechanical Horsepower.
© 1990 by Womack Machine Supply Co. This
company assumes no liability for errors in data nor in safe and/or
satisfactory operation of equipment designed from this