Differences Between Plug Valves and Ball Valves

Plug Valve: The plug valve is an older type of valve that relies on the rotation of a plug around the valve body's central axis to achieve opening and closing. It is primarily used for cutting off, distributing, and changing the direction of the medium flow.

Ball Valve: Evolving from plug valves, ball valves operate using a spherical ball as the closure component. These valves are versatile and commonly employed for applications requiring shut-off, distribution, and flow direction alteration.


  • Plug Valve:

    • Simple structure.
    • Compact dimensions.
    • Requires a 90° rotation for operation.
    • Widely applied, especially in low-pressure, small-diameter, and moderate-temperature conditions.
    • Drawbacks include higher operating torque, susceptible sealing surfaces, potential sticking at high temperatures and pressures, and limited suitability for flow regulation.
  • Ball Valve:

    • Spherical closure element (ball).
    • Quick 90° rotation for full opening or closing.
    • Generally suitable for a wide range of applications.
    • High-pressure and temperature capabilities.
    • Smaller operating torque.
    • Enhanced sealing performance with advancements in technology.

Plug Valve Types:

Plug valves come in various types based on channel configuration:

  • Straight-through (for cutting off).
  • Three-way and four-way (for medium distribution and flow direction alteration).

Plug valves are also categorized by the type of sealing:

  • Fixed, relying on tightening the plug using a nut.
  • Packing, achieving plug and valve body sealing through compacted packing.
  • Self-sealing, relying on the medium's force for sealing.
Differences Between Plug Valves and Ball Valves


While plug valves and ball valves share widespread use and similar functionalities, there are notable differences:

  • Operating Principle: Plug valves rely on a rotating plug, while ball valves use a spherical closure element.

  • Sealing Surface: Plug valves typically have larger sealing surfaces than ball valves, resulting in better sealing. However, this contributes to higher operating torque and less agile movements.

  • Applications: Plug valves are often preferred for applications with strict sealing requirements but smaller diameters. Ball valves excel in situations where a larger diameter is essential, and the sealing requirements are less stringent.

  • Advantages and Disadvantages: Plug valves offer better regulation capabilities but with drawbacks such as higher torque and potential for wear. Ball valves have lower torque requirements but may sacrifice some sealing precision.

In summary, while both plug valves and ball valves serve overlapping purposes, the choice between them depends on specific application requirements, considering factors like sealing precision, torque, and diameter considerations.

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