High Flow Skid Steers: What They Are and How They Work
When operating a skid steer there are typically two types of hydraulic systems that are available: high-flow hydraulics and standard-flow hydraulics. Each serves its own specific functions so it's essential to know the differences, what attachments they're compatible with, and why you need them.
High-flow and standard-flow terminology refers to how much hydraulic fluid is able to move through the hoses on the machine. This rate is commonly called gallons-per-minute (gpm). Standard-flow skid steers have between 17 to 25 gpm while high-flow skid steers have hydraulic flow rates anywhere from 30 to 45 gpm.
These flow rates directly correlate to the amount of power transferred to their attachments and how efficient they are, so knowing what gpm an attachment requires is crucial to its performance and efficiency. Typically, the more hydraulic flow a skid steer can provide, the more it is able to support powerful attachments like mulchers, augers, trenchers, or planers.
As high-flow attachments have become more frequent in the industry, most skid loaders and compact track loader models are manufactured to be high-flow compatible. For the most part, any skid steer with a rated operating capacity (ROC) over 1,700 lbs will have high flow, making them very versatile machines.
Read our in-depth skid steer spec guide.
Solely standard-flow skid steers have less versatility as it drastically impacts the number of attachments you can use. However, not every contractor or equipment operator needs to power high-flow attachments, so some of it comes down to need.
What skid steer attachments require high flow?
A best practice to understand which attachments need high flow vs standard flow attachments is the simplicity of the machine. For example, attachments like mulchers, planers, stump grinders, and rockers all require more power to operate the attachment's motor. This typically means they require high-flow capabilities.
Attachments that don't have motorized components like snow pushers, snow blows, and more can be powered by standard-flow skid steers. Not every attachment requires hydraulic horsepower, so you must know what type of attachments you plan to use before making a purchasing or rental decision.
Because of how common both types of attachments are, most equipment suppliers will be clear about which attachments require standard or high-flow.
How can you tell if a skid steer attachment is high flow?
Each skid steer and compact track loader attachment will show how much gpm is needed from the skid steer to power the equipment effectively. Standard flow attachments will require rates between 17 to 25 gpm. High-flow skid steer attachments will require rates between 30 to 45 gpm. This is the easiest way to figure out which hydraulic flow type is needed.
Can you use standard flow attachments on high-flow skid steer?
Yes. Every high-flow skid steer has standard flow capabilities. However, you should make sure to always line up the necessary input with output.
Most attachments will come with a label telling you how much gpm is needed. There's no need to overpower the attachment. It's always best to operate them within the specifications they're designed for.
Why do you need high flow hydraulics skid steer?
High-flow skid steers are great because they provide more versatility with a number of compatible attachments. Not to mention, all high-flow machines have low-flow functionality, so you only need one machine. This will drastically improve performance as well as reduce any concerns you have about attachment compatibility.
What are the best high-flow skid steers?
The best skid steer will be dependent on what supplier you prefer or the lifting capacity you need. Any skid loader with a ROC over 1,700 lbs should be high-flow, but it's always best to confirm with a sales rep or the equipment brochure.
The gpm and hydraulic flow capabilities will change depending on the manufacturer so that's important to factor into your decision as well.
Can you add high flow to a skid steer?
High-flow can be added to a skid steer either through factory specifications or installed later. However, this will come at a premium rate so it's better to buy or rent a skid steer with high flow already installed.
At DOZR, you can rent from thousands of rental suppliers across North America. Rent a high-flow or standard-flow skid loader today with a compatible attachment.