A hydraulic motor is a mechanical actuator that converts hydraulic pressure and flow into torque and angular displacement (rotation). The hydraulic motor is the rotary counterpart of the hydraulic cylinder as a linear actuator. Most broadly, the category of devices called hydraulic motors has sometimes included those that run on hydropower (namely, water engines and water motors) but in today's terminology the name usually refers more specifically to motors that use hydraulic fluid as part of closed hydraulic circuits in modern hydraulic machinery.
Conceptually, a hydraulic motor should be interchangeable with a hydraulic pump because it performs the opposite function - similar to the way a DC electric motor is theoretically interchangeable with a DC electrical generator. However, many hydraulic pumps cannot be used as hydraulic motors because they cannot be backdriven. Also, a hydraulic motor is usually designed for working pressure at both sides of the motor, whereas most hydraulic pumps rely on low pressure provided from the reservoir at the input side and would leak fluid when abused as a motor.
Hydraulic motors are designed for a specific rate of fluid flow. Inexpensive electric hydraulic power systems typically run at a relatively low flow rate around 2 gallons per minute. Selecting components which work well at this flow rate will be critical for achieving desired operation.
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