Reservoirs - Actual vs. Usable Capacity: What This Means and Why It Matters

When it comes to selecting the right reservoir for your equipment, understanding the difference between actual and usable capacity is crucial. This distinction not only affects operational efficiency but also the longevity and performance of your machinery. In this blog, we'll delve into what actual and usable capacity mean, why they matter, and how to make informed decisions about reservoir sizes for optimal performance.

Understanding Actual vs. Usable Capacity

Actual Capacity refers to the total volume of the reservoir. This is the maximum amount of fluid the reservoir can hold when it's completely filled. However, just knowing the actual capacity isn't enough to ensure efficient operation.

Usable Capacity on the other hand is the portion of the actual capacity that can be practically used in operations. It accounts for the fluid that remains in the reservoir under normal working conditions including the fluid required to maintain the system’s prime and compensate for thermal expansion and contraction.

Additionally, you need air space to account for the rod of the cylinder or cylinders in use, and this needs to be accounted for as well.

Why the Distinction Matters

Operational Efficiency: Usable capacity is directly related to the operational efficiency of your equipment. Using a reservoir with insufficient usable capacity can lead to frequent refilling and increased downtime while an oversized reservoir can lead to unnecessary costs and space usage.

Real-World Examples

Consider a hydraulic system in an industrial setting. If the actual capacity of the reservoir is 10 gallons but only 8 gallons are usable due to the design and operational constraints, the system must be designed to operate within those 8 gallons. Failing to account for this could lead to system failure during peak operations resulting in costly downtime and repairs.

Selecting the Right Reservoir Size

When choosing a reservoir, consider the following steps:

  • Assess Operational Needs: Determine the fluid requirements of your system under normal and peak conditions.
  • Calculate Usable Capacity: Work with manufacturers and use industry standards to calculate the usable capacity needed for efficient operation.
  • Factor in Safety Margins: Ensure there is a margin for safety to accommodate unforeseen changes in operational demands or environmental conditions.
  • Consult with Experts: Engage with industry experts and manufacturers to ensure you choose a reservoir that meets all your operational safety and compliance needs.

At Primary Mover, we take into account the needs of all our kits and can assist customers with addressing their custom needs for their projects. Our experts are ready to help you determine the right reservoir size based on your specific requirements.

You can find a full list of our available reservoir tanks here.