This two-part post explains how to determine the best size for a hydraulic pump motor and how to scale the size and cost with RMS loading and Hp limiting.
Knowing how to right-size an electric motor for your hydraulic pump can help reduce energy consumption and increase operational efficiency. The key is to ensure the pump motor is operating at peak continuous load. But how can you know how much power is needed?
Finding the right size: a general calculation
Before you can choose the correct electric motor, you must know how much horsepower (Hp) is required to drive the pump shaft. Generally, this is calculated by multiplying the flow capacity in gallons per minute (GPM) by the pressure in pounds per square inch (PSI). You then divide the resulting number by 1714 times the efficiency of the pump, for a formula that looks like this:
If you’re not sure how efficient your hydraulic pump is, it is advisable to use a common efficiency of about 85% (Multiplying 1714 x 0.85 = 1460 or 1500 if you round up). This work-around simplifies the formula to:
Note: If the pressure is 1500 PSI, you can also estimate 1hp/GPM.
Low pressure pumps
The above formula works in most applications with one notable exception: If the operating pressure of a pump is very low, the overall efficiency will be much lower than 85%. That’s because overall efficiency is equal to mechanical efficiency (internal mechanical friction) plus volumetric efficiency.
Overall efficiency = internal mechanical friction + volumetric efficiency
Internal friction is generally a fixed value, but volumetric efficiency changes depending on the pressure used. Low pressure pumps have high volumetric efficiency because they are less susceptible to internal leakage. However, as the pressure goes up and internal fluids pass over work surfaces such as pistons, port plates, and lubrication points, the volumetric efficiency goes down and the amount of torque required to turn the pump for developing pressure goes up.
Torque (to develop pressure) = Pressure (PSI) x displacement (cu. in.) / 2 PI
This variance makes it very important to know the efficiency of your pump if you’re using it at low pressure! Calculations that do not take low pressure into account will lead to a failed design.
Consider this example:
If you calculate 20 GPM @ 300 PSI with an assumed overall efficiency of 89%, you would probably select a 5 Hp electric motor. However, if you calculate the same 20 GPM @ 300 PSI with the actual overall efficiency of 50%, you would know that you should be using a 7.5 Hp motor. In this example, making an assumption about the efficiency of your pump could result in installing a motor that is too large, driving up your overall operating cost.
Accurately assessing hydraulic pump efficiency
There are many contributors to the overall efficiency of a hydraulic pump, and it pays to be as accurate as possible when choosing a motor. A best practice for proper sizing is to use published data from the pump vendor that shows actual input torque vs. pressure or overall efficiency vs pressure. Note that efficiency is also affected by RPM.
Identifying a right-sized motor for your hydraulic pump does not always ensure you are using the most efficient motor. Be sure to read Part 2 of this post to learn how RMS loading and Hp limiting can help you scale down the size of your electric motor to save money while maximizing efficiency.
For more information on Choosing an Efficient Electric Motor for a Hydraulic Pump, contact Parker's Hydraulic Pump and Power Systems Division.
This article contributed by Tim Beck, manager - system design and application, Parker Hannifin Corporation Hydraulic Pump and Power Systems Division.