A high-quality valve is essential whether you’re transporting liquids, solids, or gases. It regulates flow and provides a range of other functions. There are several types, each suited to different kinds of projects. The market for ball valves is growing rapidly. At a compound annual growth rate or CAGR of 3.75%, they’re expected to become a $15.2 billion industry by 2024.
What makes these particular types of valves so popular? Why do professionals choose them when there are so many other options on the market? How do they operate?
Read our guide to ball valves for the answers to these questions and more.
What Is a Ball Valve?
Before knowing how to use ball valves and why you should consider installing them, it’s important to understand exactly what they are.
An industrial valve is part of a machine used to control the flow of liquids, solids, and/or gases. Ball valves are a common type.
A ball valve is similar to a plug valve but distinguishable by the ball-shaped seating element it’s named after.
Ball valves are known as quarter-turn valves because they only require a 25-degree turn to switch from on to off and back again. This makes them much easier to operate than other types of valves.
Check out a ball valve diagram online for more information on the parts that make them up.
Ball Valve Types
There are several types of valves used in industrial and home settings. Understanding the differences between them all helps you choose the best one for your project.
Top-entry ball valves allow for easy repair and maintenance by removing the bonnet-cover. An end-entry valve has a single-piece body, making it harder to repair.
Ball valves can be lubricated with a similar lubricant-seal system to those found in plug valves. They can also be non-lubricated.
Ball valves can also be classified as floating-ball, trunion-mounted, welded body or orbit ball.
The floating-ball setup leaves the ball free to move as a result of fluid pressure. They create a tight seal but aren’t best for high-pressure situations or large pipes. This is due to potentially damaging high force and difficulty of operation.
Trunion-mounted ball valves let their balls rotate in a fixed position. A shaft at the top and bottom keeps the ball in place, allowing these valves to be used at higher pressures and in larger sizes. They also require less force to operate.
Orbit ball valves rotate to create a seal. They require more turns to move but are easier to operate and cheaper at larger sizes or in high-powered setups.
Ball valves can be classified by the type of bore they have. Free-flow is an expensive option used when free-flowing liquids are required. Reduced-bore occurs when the port in the ball is smaller, reducing flow.
Another important consideration when identifying types of valves is their level of port. Most are reduced port with a flow passage one pipe size smaller than the nominal value size. A full port ball valve has a full-sized flow passage and is necessary in hot tapping, lines prone to pigging, and other situations.
Still not sure what type of valve you need? Browse our collection to find the perfect one for your project.
How Ball Valves Work
Ball valves can be automated or manual. The flow is controlled either by hand, wrenches, levers, handwheel, bevel or worm gear operators, and electric actuators, pneumatic air compressors through scotch yoke or rack and pinion actuators, hydraulic actuators and self-contained or stand-alone units. The motor or worker turns the lever or handle to move the ball.
The type of project determines what type of ball valve is used. They come in a variety of materials, from rubber to steel, and there are plenty of different types.
There are several applications for ball valves. They are one of the most used types of shutoff valves thanks to their ease of operation.
Ball valves can work with simple materials like water and solvents or more dangerous ones like acids or gases.
Any liquid, air, or gas that needs to be sent through pipes can benefit from ball valves. They provide bubble-tight service and make great low-point drains.
Instrument root valves, cooling systems, and steam services are just a few of the other various applications of ball valves.
Pros and Cons of Ball Valves
It’s important to understand why you’d want to use ball valves in your projects. They provide several advantages over the alternatives.
Ball valves tend to be smaller, lighter, and require less force to operate than gate or globe valves. They also offer more flexibility due to the range of designs they come in.
There are other advantages to using ball valves. They provide bubble-tight service, open and close quickly, and are reliable in most applications. They can also maintain high pressures and temperatures, don’t require costly, time-sucking side loads, and allow for easy repairs and inspections.
Using ball valves does have a few disadvantages, and they’re not the best choice for every project. They can’t handle sustained throttling in heavy-duty applications. They can also become damaged by suspended particles.
Ball valves make operation easy and provide reliable, bubble-tight service. They may not be able to withstand all temperatures or materials.
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding on ball valves for your project. They’re an easy-to-operate, affordable, durable option in most cases. That’s why they’re growing in popularity so rapidly.
Choosing a Valve
Choosing the right valve for your project is an important decision. It’s one of the best ways to help keep the flow of liquids, solids, and/or gases running smoothly and to cut down on costs.
Ball valves help transport liquids, solids, and/or gases. They’re one of the easiest types to operate and can stand up to a wide range of materials. That’s why they’re such a popular industrial valve option.
There are various types of ball valves, and it’s important to choose the best one for your project. It’s also important to find the best place to get the ball valves you need.