What’s the Difference Between Electric and Hydraulic Motors?

If you’re in the market for linear actuators, you may be wondering whether you should get an electric or hydraulic motor from electric or hydraulic motor distributors. Read this article to learn about the differences between electric and hydraulic motors and their respective advantages and disadvantages.

How Do These Linear Actuators Function?

  • ​Electric Motors — An electric motor functions by converting electrical energy into torque. The electrical linear actuator does this by connecting a lead screw to the motor. The lead screw is rotated against a threaded lead or fixed ball nut, producing torque.
  • Hydraulic Motors — Hydraulic motors function differently. Pressure from a liquid that is incompressible will cause movement of the piston within the cylinder. The pressure will continue to grow, and the cylinder will move along with the piston’s axis, creating a force that is linear. The fluid entering or the spring-back force will cause the piston to go back to its original position.

The Pros and Cons of Electric And Hydraulic Motors

Electric Motors


  • They are smooth, quiet, and easy to repeat.
  • Electrical motors offer easily controllable and precise positioning. The setups are scalable for any force requirement or purpose.
  • Electrical systems can be reprogrammed and networked easily. They offer feedback that is immediate for both maintenance and diagnostic reasons.


  • The initial cost is high for electric design, particularly in comparison to a hydraulic motor.
  • Electrical motors are not ideal for all environments. These motors are unsuitable for a variety of industrial uses.
  • The motor that you select locks in the force of the actuator, the speed limits, and the thrust limits to a setting that is pre-determined. You will need to change the entire motor to achieve a different set of values.

 Hydraulic Motors


  • They can produce significant forces; up to about 25 times bigger than pneumatic designs that are similarly sized.
  • Hydraulic designs are sturdy and reliable and well-suited for high-force application.
  • The operating pressures can be as high as 4,000 psi, so these systems are able to handle a large variety of system specifications.
  • A hydraulic motor can hold force and torque at a consistent level and without the need for a pump supplying pressure and fluid.
  • Hydraulic designs offer flexibility of structure thanks to the resilience and the ability of the system to have motors and pumps positioned far from the main components of the system.


  • It is possible for hydraulic systems to leak fluid.
  • Leakages can lead to damage or a working environment that is unclean, particularly in systems that are poorly maintained.
  • Hydraulic systems demand many component parts

For more information about the differences between electric and hydraulic motors and how to choose from the many hydraulic motor distributors, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Written by David Thacker

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