Ball Valve Vs. Plug Valve

Table of Contents

What is the ball valve?

A ball valve is a kind of valve that uses a ball-shaped disc to control the flow of fluid through it. The ball has a port or hole through its center, allowing the liquid to pass through when the valve opens. When the valve is closed, the ball turns so the port is perpendicular to the flow, blocking the fluid flow. They are preferred for their durability, reliability, and ease of operation. They can also regulate fluid flow and are accessible in diverse sizes and materials, making them suitable for various applications.

2 way ball valve
2-way ball valve

What is a plug valve?

A plug valve controls fluid flow through a pipe or conduit using a tapered or cylindrical plug that rotates inside the valve body. The plug has a passage or bore that runs through it, and when the plug is rotated, the passage aligns with the inlet and outlet ports of the valve, allowing fluid to flow through.

Plug valves are accessible in various sizes and materials, including stainless steel, brass, and PVC, making them suitable for multiple industrial and commercial applications.

plug valve
plug valve

Ball Valve Vs. Plug Valve: Working

How does a plug valve work?

A plug valve is a quarter-turn valve that applies a tapered or cylindrical plug with one or more passages to control fluid flow through the valve. The essential operation of a plug valve is as follows:

  1. In the closed position, the plug is rotated so that its passage is perpendicular to the flow direction, effectively blocking fluid flow through the valve.
  2. To open the valve, the plug is rotated 90 degrees to align its passage with the flow direction, allowing fluid to pass through the valve.
  3. The plug is rotated back to its original position to close the valve, blocking the fluid flow again.

A plug valve typically operates by a stem, which connects the plug to an actuator such as a handle, lever, or pneumatic or electric motor. When the actuator is turned or activated, it rotates the plug to the desired position, either opening or closing the valve.

How do ball valves operate?

ball valve working
Ball valve working

Ball valves may feature many ports, which are the valve’s apertures. Two-way ball valves have two ports for conventional on/off control. Multi-port valves (3-way, 4-way, etc.) are utilized in various applications requiring several media sources or redirecting media in diverse ways.

The ball valve’s port can be manually or automatically opened or closed to control media flow. Manual control of the valve requires handles or levers and an operator. Electronic, hydraulic, and pneumatic valve actuation does not require an operator. Actuation is appropriate for remote or sophisticated control systems that are difficult for an operator to access.

Ball Valve Technical Data

¼ inch0.232.992.20
3/8 inch0.322.992.20
½ inch0.514.022.20
¾ inch0.754.252.72
1 inch0.994.533.50
1 ½ inch1.505.244.49
2 inch1.896.064.72

Ball Valve Vs. Plug Valve: Applications

Applications of plug valve

While plug valves are more commonly used in industrial applications, they can also be used in specific residential applications. Here are some examples:

  1. Irrigation systems: Plug valves can be used in irrigation systems to control water flow to different lawn or garden areas.
  2. Well, pumps: Plug valves can be used in well pump systems to control water flow from the well to the house.
  3. Water softeners: Plug valves can be used in water softener systems to control water flow to the resin tank during regeneration cycles.
  4. Radiant heating systems: Plug valves can be used in radiant heating systems to control the flow of hot water or other fluids to individual heating zones in the house.
brass plug valve
brass plug valve

Residential Applications of ball valve

Ball valves are commonly used in residential plumbing systems, providing a reliable and durable shut-off valve for water or gas. Here are some common residential applications of ball valves:

  1. Main water shut-off valve: A ball valve is typically installed at a house’s primary water supply line, allowing residents to shut off the water supply to the entire house in case of an emergency or plumbing repair.
  2. Water heaters: Ball valves are commonly used to control water flow into and out of water heaters, allowing homeowners to shut off the water supply to the unit when maintenance or repair is needed.
  3. Outdoor plumbing: Ball valves are commonly used in outdoor plumbing applications, such as for sprinkler systems or outdoor faucets, where they can provide a durable and reliable shut-off valve.
  4. Radiant heating systems: Ball valves are commonly used in radiant heating systems, allowing homeowners to control the flow of hot water or other fluids to individual heating zones in the house.

Ball Valve Vs. Plug Valve: Types

Types of ball valve

There are several types of ball valves, each with different characteristics and applications. Here are some common types of ball valves:

  1. Full-port ball valve: A full-port ball valve has a larger ball and port than a standard ball valve, allowing for a higher flow rate and less restriction in the flow path.
  2. Reduced port ball valve: A reduced port ball valve has a smaller ball and port than a full port ball valve, which results in a higher pressure drop and lower flow rate.
  3. V-port ball valve: A V-port ball valve has a V-shaped ball that can control the flow rate more precisely than a standard ball valve.
  4. Three-way ball valve: A three-way ball valve has three ports and can control fluid or gas flow between two different paths or mix two different fluids or gases.
  5. Trunnion ball valve: A trunnion ball valve has additional mechanical support for the ball, which makes it suitable for high-pressure and large-diameter applications.
wash machine valve with a worker
wash machine valve with a worker

Types of plug valve

There are several types of plug valves, including:

Lubricated Plug Valve: This type of valve has a lubricated plug that helps to reduce friction and wear during operation. It is commonly used for applications that require tight shut-off and reliable sealing.

Non-Lubricated Plug Valve: This type of valve does not require lubrication and is often used for applications where contamination from lubricants is a concern.

Eccentric Plug Valve: In this type of valve, the plug is mounted eccentrically to the valve body, which allows for a non-slam, low-torque operation. It is often used in high-pressure and high-temperature applications.

Ball Valve Vs. Plug Valve: Valve Construction and Parts

Valve Construction and Components of Plug Valve

construction of plug valve
construction of plug valve

The plug, stem, handle, and body are the essential components of a plug valve. The stem of a plug valve connects the valve’s handle to the main plug. The plug is rotated by turning the lever on the top of the valve. Depending on the kind of plug valve, the stem orientation varies. The primary body of a plug valve contains all the important components and safeguards the internals.

The plug within a plug valve varies in port shape and overall structure. Depending on the application, a plug might be rectangular, circular, or diamond-shaped. Plug valves with rectangular ports are the most popular and permit the most flow. Round ports are also common and used when flow restriction is unimportant. Ports with a diamond shape are optimal for throttle control in a system.

Valve Construction and Components of Ball Valve

components of ball valve
components of the ball valve

Ball valves are quarter-turn valves that use a hollow, perforated, and pivoting ball to control flow. The ball valve construction and components typically include the following:

  1. Body: The valve’s body provides the main housing for the other components and is usually made of stainless steel, brass, or PVC. It also contains the fluid inlet and outlet ports.
  2. Ball: The ball is the main component of the valve and is responsible for controlling fluid flow. A hole in the center allows fluid to pass through when the valve is open and blocks the flow when the valve is closed.
  3. Stem: The stem attaches the ball to the actuator, allowing it to be rotated to open or close the valve. It also supports the ball when it is in the closed position.
  4. Seat: The seat is the sealing surface between the ball and the valve’s body. It is made of materials such as PTFE, nylon, or stainless steel and ensures that the valve is leak-free when in the closed position.
  5. Bonnet: It is the body component containing packing and stem.
  6. Packing: The seal around the stem stops the media from escaping.

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