Hydraulic vs Pneumatic Rosin Presses

Todde Philips   

🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur

Hydraulic Rosin Presses and Pneumatic Rosin Presses are both common in rosin extraction, and equally capable of producing premium quality rosin. But what sets them apart, and how do they actually work?

Both hydraulic and pneumatic presses operate on the same basic principles. Pressure is generated within the press itself, and applied as force through a driving ram into the rosin plates. In the squeezing together of the rosin plates, pressure is generated within the cannabis source material. This pressure combines with heat from the plates to create the outflow of rosin, the prize of our endeavors. 

The main difference between the two types of presses lies in the method by which force is generated. 

Hydraulic Rosin Presses utilize fluid mechanics, and generate force by way of pressurized liquids (in most cases oil). 

Hydraulic presses don't need to be plugged into an outlet, since the internal pressure is produced with a hand pump. The exception is with variable-hydraulic presses, in which a motor is used to generate the internal pressure instead of a hand pump.


But for the most part, hydraulic presses are more manual and simpler in design. They tend to operate on a simple H-Frame construction, which is minimal in design and bulk, utilizing a basic open structure.  

With the H-Frame style press, extractors can install Rosin Pressing Plates separately, giving more control over the unique specifications of the press. Rosin Press Plates from The Press Club are the ideal choice for hydraulic press set ups. 

Pneumatic Rosin Presses utilize compressed gasses (air) to generate force. 

Whereas hydraulic presses normally rely on a hand pump to pressurize the fluid contained within the system, pneumatic presses rely on an electrical pump to pressurize the air within. Both types of presses apply the force through a driving ram and into heated rosin plates. 

Which Type Is Best for Rosin Presses? 

Both types make great rosin presses, it mostly depends on the volume of cannabis material you’re processing as well as your budget. There’s not one type of press that’s best for everyone, and both are worthy of the job. 

Hydraulic Presses tend to fall at the lower end of the cost scale. They don't require a power outlet, but rather operate on the manual input of the extractor. Hydraulic Presses are normally sold as the H-Frame press with hand pump and pressure gauge, then the extractor installs the Rosin Press Plates of their choice onto the press. This customization can be an advantage, as both the total force capacity of the press and the type and size of Rosin Press Plates can be selected by the extractor. 




Pneumatic Presses are fully automated and don’t require manual input, just the push of a button. They are generally sold at higher price points than their hydraulic counterparts, and come with the advantage of better precision pressure control. Extractors can really dial-in the exact pressure levels with pneumatic better than hydraulic. 

Pneumatic Presses for rosin are generally sold as a complete package, with the press itself and the Rosin Plates already fixed into the design and construction. There's less customization with pneumatic presses. One advantage is that pneumatic presses can process more material faster, as the pressure is achieved with the push of a button. 

Another important point to keep in mind is that calculating pressure at the rosin bag during extraction, also referred to as Platen PSI, is different for hydraulic and pneumatic presses. Learn more about how to calculate pressure for both types of presses in our article about Platen PSI. Just going by the reading on the press's internal pressure gauge isn't enough!



How Can You Tell Which Type of Press You Have?

Possibly the best way to tell the two apart is by the need of an electrical power source. If your press has a hand pump but no power cord, and is coupled with an internal pressure gauge attached to the cylinder of the press, then it's a hydraulic press. Manual presses will also have hand-powered levers to generate force, but don't include internal fluid systems. 




Hydraulic presses are normally constructed with the traditional H-frame design, with a hand pump attached by a rubber tube containing the pressurized fluid. It's also very easy to install custom Rosin Pressing Plates onto hydraulic presses. 

Hydraulic presses are normally available for a lower cost than the pneumatic presses.  For more info about these presses, check out our articles about the Different Types of Rosin Presses, and How To Build Your Own Rosin Press.

Pneumatic presses need to be plugged into an outlet, as an electrical motor generates the internal air pressure needed to exert force onto the Rosin Press Plates. Pneumatic presses are also more enclosed and they don't have the H-frame structure as exposed. They tend to look more like metal boxes, with all the components contained within. Pneumatic presses are also bulkier and heavier. 


Both hydraulic presses and pneumatic presses are capable of extracting top shelf rosin. Your budget, the type of pressure control you need, and the customization you want are all factors to consider. With knowledge about how each type works, and the mechanics by which they operate, you'll easily be able to tell them apart. 

What's your favorite type of rosin press? Let us know in the comments!

Thoughts? Let us know by joining our secret Facebook group. Hang out with a community of like-minded solventless heads like yourself. Ask our head extractor questions, share your latest press and learn from hobbyists and experts in the industry.


What are different types of rosin presses?
The main types of rosin presses are manual, hydraulic, and pneumatic. Manual presses require physical input from the extractor, hydraulic presses use an integrated hydraulics system to generate pressure, and pneumatic rosin presses use compressed air to create pressure. 

How do you install rosin plates on a rosin press?
Rosin plates are installed on the top of the table and underneath the ram of an H-Frame press. The bottom plate sits on top of the table (lower surface on the press) and the top plate is secured to the ram with a collar and bolt system. Insulators are also used between the rosin plates and the press to minimize heat transfer. 

Does a rosin press come with rosin plates?
It depends on the type of press. H-Frame hydraulics shop presses generally don't come with rosin plates, which can be purchased separately, such as these premium rosin plates from The Press Club. 

What rosin press should I buy?
A great in-home system is a DIY H-Frame hydraulic press. Premium rosin plates like these from The Press Club are installed onto the hydraulic press. Seek reputable manufacturers of hydraulic shop presses and source rosin plates specifically designed for extracting high quality cannabis concentrates. 

Where is the pressure gauge on a rosin press?
On H-Frame style presses, pressure gauges are generally installed at the top of the press, and give an indication of the pressure generated by the hydraulics system (internal pressure of the press). The pressure gauge on a press is not the same thing as Platen PSI, also known as bag PSI. Calculating Platen PSI is necessary to understand how much pressure is actually being applied to source material during extraction. Learn more about Platen PSI here


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