Ball Valve vs. Butterfly Valve

ball vs butterfly valves

Engineers who need to control the flow of a gas or liquid often turn to ball valves and butterfly valves. Both are quarter-turn rotary valves that are inexpensive and durable. They are both excellent for regulating flow at a wide range of temperatures. So, what’s the difference between a ball and butterfly valve?

Though the differences are subtle, they each have unique characteristics that make them ideal for specific applications. Factors like pressure differences, quality of seal and supply pipe size can make either a butterfly or ball valve more beneficial for a project.

Ball Valves

ball valve consists of a floating ball with a hole running through it. When the valve is activated, the hole is aligned in a way that blocks, partially blocks or completely opens the flow of liquid or gas. There are several benefits to using ball valves, including the tight seal, which is ideal for applications involving gas flow. They are often used in high-pressure liquid or gas lines that are less than 6 inches in diameter. Ball valves offer almost no resistance when turning them, even if the supply side is creating high pressure. Some designs provide no drops in pressure. Most ball valves can operate in temperatures between -30℃ to 230℃. There are several kinds of ball valves, including:

Butterfly Valves

Butterfly valves are a lightweight valve that comes in one- and two-piece designs, named after their resemblance to the wings of a butterfly. In the two-piece design version of these valves, the sections fold inward to allow full flow and lie flat when closed. In a one-piece design, a disk is mounted on a shaft that rotates around the pipe. Activating the valve turns the disk to fully open or block the flow of gas or liquid through the valve. Butterfly valves are usually one of two types: lug and wafer valves. These two types mainly differ in their installation designs.

These valves are typically less expensive in terms of materials and maintenance. They are also lighter than ball valves and are faster to open and close. They are often used in large-scale projects, such as municipal water systems and sewers. Applications that require the control of flow from a body of water often use butterfly valves. If flow loss is not an issue, then butterfly valves are excellent for controlling flow and pressure. Another benefit of butterfly valves is that they are smaller than ball valves, which is useful for projects that need to minimize space.

How Ball Valves Differ From Butterfly Valves

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Ball valves and butterfly valves accomplish similar tasks, but their similarities are limited. Both valves are:

The primary difference between the valves lies in their effect on flow. In butterfly valves, part of the disk interferes with the flow, creating a drop in pressure. For applications where consistent or high pressure is needed, this, of course, is a disadvantage. The pressure change can also make the valve difficult to operate due to the incoming pressure from the supply side. A bypass valve could be needed to balance out the pressure before a butterfly valve can work appropriately. Alternatively, the ball valve offers 100 percent flow with its design. It can be used for projects where higher pressure is needed.

Another consideration is the size of the application. Due to their design, ball valves typically become less cost-effective at around 6 inches in diameter. At that point, butterfly valves generally are the more economical choice. They are lighter and tend to be more affordable. These characteristics make them great for large-scale projects where flow control is less of a concern. Plus, butterfly valves don’t trap fluids like a ball valve can, so a butterfly valve may be better for applications in food production, where residues can create health hazards.

Find a Valve Supplier

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The uses for both ball and butterfly valves are extensive, and they are each widely used across industries. They are simple to install and typically made of durable materials. Both ball and butterfly valves are available at low costs. At SEMCOR, we pride ourselves on providing long-lasting equipment that requires as little maintenance as possible. We offer valves from AMRI, Apollo, Richter, ITT and more.

We’ve been in business for more than a century, and over the years, we’ve learned what makes a good product. Dependability, durability and affordability are among our top considerations. If we don’t have a valve that meets your needs, we can even create a custom-made valve for your project. Reach out today for more information on our process and product options.