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Ball Valve vs Plug Valve

September 1, 2023

We know that valves play a crucial role in various industrial processes like controlling flow rates, pressure and temperature of fluids. But sometimes it’s confusing to choose the right valve for your need. Different types of valves are available in the market, among which Ball valves and Plug valves are widely used. Both these valves serve an essential role in regulating fluid flow, but they significantly differ in their body design, suitability for different applications, and maintenance requirements. This article will provide a brief comparison of the plug valve and the ball valve to help you in choosing the best product for your industrial use.

Let us first know briefly about Plug Valve and Ball Valve.

A plug valve controls the flow of fluid by using a cylindrical or tapered plug to open or close the passage of fluid. This plug may feature one or more holes or openings, which depends on how it’s designed for a particular use. By rotating the plug 90 degrees, it can either stop the fluid from passing or allow it to flow through the valve. Plug valves are widely used in different industries because they have a basic design, easy to operate, and are considered dependable and reliable.

A ball valve is cylindrical in shape and contains a component with an internal bore or hole running through it that is spherical or ball-shaped. For the initiation or prevention of the passage of liquid or gas, the ball rotates 90 degrees within the valve body. The lever or handle on a ball valve is rotated to open or close the valve. It provides a drop-tight shut-off when fully closed, which means it can entirely stop the flow without any leakage. Ball valves are preferred for many applications, including high-pressure and high-temperature situations where the valve must be able to survive challenging operating circumstances. This is due to the dependable sealing and extended service life of ball valves.

Differences based on various factors.

  • Design and Structure: Plug valves use a conical or cylindrical plug to control fluid flow through side passageways, while ball valves have a spherical disc with a circular bore channel.
  • Sealing: The plug valve provides better sealing properties due to its larger sealing surface but requires more torque during operation. While ball valves have a smaller sealing surface, making them easier to regulate and operate.
  • Applications: Plug valves are commonly used in medium or low-pressure and low-temperature environments, whereas ball valves are versatile and suitable for various systems, including high-pressure and extreme operating conditions.
  • Cost: Plug valves cost less than ball valves. Plug valves have a simple design, which makes them less expensive to produce and install.
  • Lifespan: Generally, ball valves last longer than plug valves due to their lower torque and fewer contact areas with the medium, which reduces wear and tear.
  • Maintenance: Plug valves have a simple construction and few moving parts, making them easier to maintain compared to ball valves. Accessing and cleaning the internals of ball valves can be more challenging.
  • Flow Regulation: Plug valves can provide a tighter shut-off, but ball valves are better suited for flow control and throttling operations.
  • Size and Installation: Plug valves are more compact and have a lower footprint, making them suitable for smaller applications, while ball valves are more widely used in larger systems.
  • Lubrication: Lubricated plug valves have a metal plug with a lubricant chamber, reducing friction and enhancing corrosion resistance, whereas ball valves do not require lubrication.

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