How Hydraulic Lifts Work | Hydraulic Home Lifts

There are a few different types of drive systems that lifts use. The main 3 are electrical, traction and hydraulic. This blog will answer all your questions about how hydraulic lifts work and hopefully help you decide if it is a system you would like for your home lift!


What is a Lift Drive System?

A lift drive system is the mechanism or parts of the lift that make it move up and down. For example, our electrical lifts use a motor to move a nut and the standing area up and down a large screw. This is the basic drive system and without it you wouldn’t be able to move the lift.

There are of course many parts in a lift! These all link together to create all the gadgets, buttons and style options, but the integral part that makes the lift move is the drive system.

Make sure you know about how the drive system in the lifts you’re considering works to make sure it is what you want.


How Do Hydraulic Lifts Work?

Hydraulic lifts use an oil based system that basically moves the lift car up and down using pressure.

A separate room or small box with an oil reservoir (usually very small for home lifts) has a store of hydraulic oil in it. This is linked to the lift car.

When the “up” button is pressed, oil is pushed through pipes from the oil reservoir using a pump. This pump pushes the oil through the pipes to a piston underneath the lift car. As the oil is pumped through, the pressure pushes the lift car upwards. A valve in the pipes stops the oil from going backwards.

When the “down” button is pressed, the valve in the pipes opens. The gravity and weight of the lift car pushes the oil back through the pipes into the oil reservoir and lowers the car.

Really, although a hydraulic system can be used for the largest lifts, it is much smaller and simpler in a home lift system. For a very large commercial lift, a large pit is required to house all the oil – but in a home lift this is stored in a much smaller space and no deep pits are required.


Diagram Showing How Hydraulic Lifts Work

Gartec Home - How Do Hydraulic Home Lifts Work



Is a Hydraulic Home Lift Suitable for my Home?

Hydraulic home lifts are a great idea for a home lift! There are some pros and cons which you may want to consider though, to help decide if they are suitable for your home.


Hydraulic Home Lift Pros

  • Space: hydraulic lifts take up less space and usually have a smaller footprint
  • Maintenance: they are simple and quick to maintain and service as there are less parts
  • Weight capacity: hydraulic lifts can usually take a higher weight limit as they are more powerful
  • No deep pit is required: unlike big commercial hydraulic lifts, hydraulic home lifts do not need a huge oil pit.
  • No falling possible: as the system is pressure based, the lift cannot fall to the bottom (this is just in films!)
  • Noise: there is very little noise from a hydraulic home lift
  • Power: low energy use makes the system economical to run


Hydraulic Home Lift Cons

  • “Machine room”: usually you will need a small box or room to house the pump and oil reservoir – though these are very small on home lift versions
  • Leaks: if there is an oil leak, there will be oil in your home (very rare). Home Lift systems don’t have that much oil
  • Temperature: the oil can get quite warm in the system
  • Filters and seals: there are more filters and seals in a hydraulic lift than other types of lift
  • Speed: hydraulic lifts are not the fastest option as the fluid limits the speed possible – but home lift regulations and laws limit the speed anyway!


Interested in discussing hydraulic and platform lifts for your home? Our 5000 home lift uses a simple hydraulic drive system and our experts are always on hand to discuss the best options for you.

Get in touch with the team on 01296 397100, or drop us an email at for information, free quotes and visits.