Hydraulic vs. Electric Stretchers, which is best?

A big question indeed… How do I know whether my stretcher should be hydraulic or electric?

There are clear pros and cons whichever way you look at it, for the hydraulic versus electric operation of patient trolleys. It is important to consider the type of daily use that your trolleys are receiving and what the future may look like with the constant evolving and development of healthcare systems and staff risk mitigation. 

This is subject to opinions and your own independent facility studies.

Hydraulic vs. Electric

Hydraulic stretchers are non-powered stretchers that require manual operation from users. These stretchers are generally suited best to smaller or remote facilities that need a simple solution.

Electric stretchers can only operate with a power source and have a wider range of functionality and customisation given that it can be controlled via a remote. 

Hydraulic Pros. 

A hydraulic patient stretcher can be used anywhere across a facility, both indoors and outdoors without limitation. Normally a hydraulic unit will continue to work for many years with low maintenance requirements.

If available, some manufacturers will accommodate refurbished replacement lifting columns, which can help to reduce lifetime service costs.   

Hydraulic Cons. 

Physical effort is required to operate a hydraulic stretcher and raising the patient platform by manual pumping or lifting could result in a higher risk of strain injury to the operator. Hydraulic lifting columns are only single stage, meaning the lower a patient surface is required, the less working (high) height that can be achieved.

It is difficult to have the best of both worlds, easy egress for the patient and comfortable working heights for medical staff. As these columns are the ‘heart’ of the stretcher and the seals will eventually wear out, the cost of new replacement columns can be higher than equivalent electric components.  

Electric Pros. 

There is very little effort on behalf of the operator, who can raise, lower and position a patient via the touch of a button. Electric lifting actuators are available in multiple stages or with a longer overall stroke (than hydraulic), meaning that both excellent low and high heights can be achieved with the patient platform. 

This facilitates safe egress of the patient when lowered, and also less strain on medical staff when able to raise the patient to a comfortable working height.

Electric Cons. 

A power supply is required to operate and this comes mostly in the form of a main power supply or independent battery. Battery power allows a stretcher to move throughout a facility without having to be connected via a cable. 

If powered by a cable and main power supply, the trolley must be plugged in once parked, to provide operational functionality. Batteries come in two forms, either permanent onboard backup, which has a shorter operating time and must be connected via the cable to a wall for recharging, or a removable, rechargeable system which allows fast change over for power supply and longer operation times. If not cared for properly, battery life can diminish over time.

Read more about the Dewert rechargeable, removable battery which is used on Modsel stretchers and chairs here.

Looking for more info? 

Without question both types of stretcher have their advantages however when it comes to operator safety and functionality an electric stretcher takes the cake…hands down!

You can view our range of stretchers here.

Available in both hydraulic and electric versions.


Enquire directly here for more information!