How Does A Needle Valve Differ From A Ball Valve?
16 Mar,2022

If you’re in the market for a valve, you might be wondering what the differences between a ball valve and a needle one are. They both regulate flow, but needle valves provide greater precision. 

Their stems can be moved up and down, which allows them to be operated in a wide range of settings. They are commonly used in gas-filling vacuum systems. They’re also used to control fluid flow in fluid processing systems.

The two types of valves have their advantages and disadvantages. Balls are generally less expensive than needles, but needle valves have a higher cost. But, both types of valves offer robust durability and high reliability, particularly in closed positions. 

Both are popular for oil and gas applications. However, a ball valve is best suited for control applications, such as a shutoff or a switch. A ball valve is better for applications that require frequent on-and-off switching and tight seals.

If you are looking for the best fitting to manage flow control in industrial control systems, we can help you. In this article, we are going to discuss the difference between needle valves and ball valves. 

What Is A Ball Valve?

A ball valve is an on-off valve that is mostly used for liquid flow control in industries. It is a type of valve that uses a ball as its internal element. This valve is designed to open and close fluids by applying pressure to the ball. You can rotate the handle partially to regulate the flow of liquid as well as completely stop and start the flow. It is one of the most common and easy-to-use industrial valves. 

There are three different types of balls: solid, hollow, and revolving. The hollow ones are made from a special material that allows them to be constructed without a cavity. These require less material to manufacture but are more prone to forming dips in the material.

The hole through the ball has different profiles, including full bore, reduced bore, V-shape, and flanged. Most ball valves have reduced-bore designs. The reason for this is to minimize friction losses in the system. The one-piece design of ball valves also makes them easier to maintain.

Advantages of Using a Ball Valve

The advantages of using a ball valve are numerous. One of them is its simplicity. A ball valve is simply a sphere with a hole in the middle. When the cross-section of the fluid flow path and the bore are coplanar, the bore serves as the flow opening. When the two are not coplanar, the fluid flow path is throttled, reducing the amount of flow. 

Another advantage of a ball valve is its durability. It is a cost-effective and reliable valve that is easy to clean. The seat is automatically cleaned when the ball rotates, thereby preventing buildup. On top of that, this valve requires minimum maintenance as there are not many internal components. 

Another benefit of a ball valve is its versatility. The ability to turn a system on and off, as well as shut it down, is all possible with a simple ball valve. These valves come with multiple ports, which means they can be used with many different porting combinations. They are also easy to maintain, which makes them ideal for many applications. And, because of their simplicity, they can be repaired with minimal effort.

Limitations of Using a Ball Valve

Consider the following limitations before you install a ball valve. First, you should consider the flow rate. A single valve can handle a single-stage process up to 20 GPM, which is more than enough for a typical service.

Another limitation of using a ball valve is its tendency to build up deposits of flowing material. Because the design of the ball allows the flow of dense fluid to become stuck, this type of valve is not recommended for such a fluid. In addition, the valve’s seats can eventually become jammed due to clogging, and this makes it necessary to clean it regularly.

What Is A Needle Valve?

A needle valve is a type of valve that comes with a needle-shaped plunger. These valves are very durable and can withstand high pressure. However, because their opening is so small, they are not optimal for high flow situations. In fact, if you need a high-flow device, you will likely want to look elsewhere. 

A needle valve is designed with a very small opening. It is often used in applications that require high flow or precise flow adjustments. These valves are also available with a variety of materials. Regardless of the material, you should research the materials and specifications of a needle valve before purchasing one.

As the name implies, a needle valve allows fluid to flow through a small opening in its housing. The plunger is designed to block flow until it is fully retracted. Consequently, the plunger needs many turns of a fine threaded screw to fully retract. 

The needle valve’s small opening makes it ideal for precise regulation of flow. Because of this, it is commonly used for liquids and gases in delicate gauges. It is also used in situations where you need to stop or slow down flow over time or need to make a gradual adjustment.

Advantages of Using a Needle Valve

A needle valve is one of the most versatile types of valves available. Its small opening allows it to handle high pressure, making it a great choice for applications where precise measurements are essential. 

The needle itself can be shifted very small degrees, which helps to regulate flow accurately and achieve an unprecedented level of efficiency. It can be used for both low- and high-flow applications. In addition, it is easy to adjust its position.

Needle valves are often used to control the flow of liquids. Their precision is unmatched, allowing them to be shifted in minute degrees and regulate the flow rate to a very precise degree. 

This type of valve is easy to shut off and on. On top of that, it is resistant to hot and cold temperatures. The precision, adjustability, flexibility, and versatility make it perfect for industrial use. 

One of the biggest advantages of using a needle valve is its small opening. Even when fully retracted, the plunger does not allow fluid to flow. The fine-threaded screw that retracts the plunger controls the flow rate. 

Limitations of Using a Needle Valve

There are some inherent limitations with the use of a needle valve, which limit its application to low-flow systems. While the small opening of a needle valve makes it ideal for small-volume applications, the risk of clogging is a major disadvantage. 

Because solid particles can get lodged in the seat and cause damage to the valve, they are not the best choice for high-flow systems. While a needle valve can handle high pressure, it is not ideal for situations requiring high flow. Another limitation is that it is very hard to tell if the valve is open or close because the opening is small.

Needle Valve vs. Ball Valve: Which Is Better?

In terms of cost, ball and needle valves have some distinct advantages. The former is cheaper and can be used in applications where good sealing is necessary. Moreover, both types are reliable in closed positions. Among the common industries that utilize these components are oil and gas, brewing systems, and mining. A needle valve is better suited for regulating flow, while a ball one is better suited for adjusting flow.

A needle valve is better for precise control of flow. Its stem can be moved up or down to allow the flow to be regulated. It can also be set to partially open or closed, making it a good choice for frequent on/off switching. 

In general, needle valves offer greater precision, while a ball valve requires more frequent on/off switching. A ball valve is better for high-pressure applications. Similarly, a needle valve is better for low-pressure applications. It has a small actuation stroke, and it can control fluids at a variety of speeds. The main difference between these two valves lies in the way they are used.

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