Hydraulic and pneumatic systems both offer advantages as well as disadvantages over the other. The biggest difference between systems is that pneumatics are powered by compressed air while hydraulics use pressurised oils or water.
Hydraulic equipment is associated with high initial costs, while pneumatic systems are linked with lower initial costs. However, hydraulic systems offer relatively low operating costs while pneumatic systems generally offer higher operating costs. Hydraulic system components are more expensive than pneumatic system components; they need to be exceptionally durable because hydraulics components operate under high pressures.
Hydraulic systems operate under higher pressures than pneumatic systems. According to Science Ray, pneumatic systems traditionally operate under pressures between 80 and 100 PSI (pounds per square inch), while hydraulic systems usually operate under pressures between 1,000 and 5,000 PSI. Pneumatic systems are cleaner than hydraulic systems, because they operate under air as opposed to liquids. Oil from a hydraulic system can leak and contaminate a workspace.
The market offers a wide variety of hydraulic and pneumatic power tools. According to Mobile Hydraulic Equipment Co., pneumatic power tools are designed to last only for up to 10 years, while hydraulic power tools are designed to last for more than 15. In general, pneumatic tools require a lot of regular maintenance unlike hydraulic tools, which require little regular maintenance.