Two-way and three-way ball valves are the most common types of ball valves. Three-way ball valves are especially useful because they can be set up in ways that simplify the control of gas and fluid flow. For example, they can be used to divert the flow of oil from one tank to another.
This post focuses on the basic design differences between L-pattern (L-port) flow and T-pattern (T-port) flow in three-way ball valves. I will also describe some of the ways handle position in combination with the range of handle rotation are used to control flow through typical three-way ball valve designs.
The front view of a typical three-way ball valve with a handle that rotates parallel to the valve ports plane. These are also called vertical version, vertical type, vertical ported, upright and upright tee valves.
The front view of another common style of three-way ball valve. It has a handle that rotates at a right angle to the valve ports plane. These are also called vertical version, vertical type, vertical ported, upright and upright tee valves.
Two-way ball valves are widely used as shut-off valves for gases or liquids (media) moving through closed tube or pipe systems. This is because of their simplicity and reliability. Two-way valves have two ports or openings where pipe or tubing is connected to the valve. The ball in two-way ball valves has a single straight hole through it where the liquid or gas (media) passes through the valve.
The flow through a standard port ball valve is somewhat restricted because the bore through the ball inside the valve is smaller than the diameter of the pipes connected to the valve ports. An option for reducing or eliminating flow resistance through a ball valve is to use a full port ball valve.
Learn more about Full Port Ball Valves vs Standard Port ball valves. This blog post describes the differences between full port or full-bore ball valves and standard port valves. It also includes a list of FAQs describing some of the basics of ball valve design.
Three-way ball valves have three ports or connections for pipe. In general, three-way valves can solve more complex flow control needs than two-way valves. This makes them useful for many types of process applications.
For example, one type of three-way ball valve can be used to mix purified water from one source with juice concentrate from another source. A slightly different three-way valve design could divert fuel flowing from one tank to another tank while still being able to shut off the flow of fuel entirely if needed.
Three-, four- and five-way ball valves are called multi-port valves. The three-way ball valve is the most common multi-port ball valve. A three-way ball valve has three ports or openings that are connected to piping or tubing for gas or fluid flow (media) to pass through. These ports are usually described as one inlet and two outlet ports or one outlet and two inlet ports depending upon the flow direction through the valve.
Ball Valve Learn about Floating and Trunnion Mounted Ball Valves at HardHat Engineer Although this technical blog is aimed at large-bore and high-pressure flow control, it contains some useful and very well illustrated information about three-way ball valve design.
Controlling flow through a three-way valve is done with a combination of how the piping is set up, the handle rotation of the valve ball and the flow path through the valve ball (the ball bore or porting).
There is one simple but key internal design difference that determines what a three-way ball valve can do. This important design difference is the pattern of flow or port shape through the ball inside the valve. Most three-way ball valves have valve balls with flow patterns shaped like either a capital L (L-pattern flow, L-flow, L-port, two direction) or a capital T (T-pattern flow, T-flow, T-port, three direction).
I will describe the basics of three-way ball valves with both L-pattern and T-pattern flows, but I will describe L-pattern flow ball valves first. Having a clear understanding of L-pattern flow makes understanding T-pattern flow much easier.
Notice that the stem slot for turning this valve ball is on top. This means the ball is made for a horizontal type three-way valve. If it was intended for a vertical type valve, the stem slot would be opposite one of the bore holes (ball flow path ports).
L flow patterns, sometimes called 90-degree balls, are most often used to allow flow from one common inlet port out into one of two different outlet ports. This is why L-pattern flow three-way ball valves are often called diverter valves.
Diverter, selecting or directional valves are alternate names used for L-pattern flow ball valves. This is because this valve design is widely used to divert or change the flow going out through one of two different valve outlets or ports. Manual three-way L-pattern ball valves used as diverter valves are usually installed with the bottom port of the valve body as the common or flow entry port.
L-pattern flow ball valves with handles that can turn 90 degrees (a quarter turn of the handle) are also called two position valves. They can divert flow either to the left or to the right with one 90-degree turn of the handle.
If the sweep of the handle rotation is not limited by built in valve handle stops, an L-flow pattern ball valve can also be rotated either 270 degrees (a three-quarter turn of the handle) or 360 degrees (a full turn of the handle). This freedom of rotation provides two possible shut-off positions.
For a vertical type L-pattern flow ball valve, the bottom port or common port is always open. Turning the valve handle 180 degrees (a half turn) diverts flow either to the left or to the right (see the previous images). If the valve is rotated only 90 degrees (a quarter turn) in either direction though, the handle faces either the front or the back of the valve. In these handle positions, flow through the valve is cut off.
BVPM Series Female NPT Ball Valves (spec sheet) from ISM The BVPM series of vertical type brass miniature valves include three-way ball valves. These three-way valves are typical L-port 180-degree rotation ball valves designed to be used as diverter valves plus one cutoff position.
BLV Series Female NPT Ball Valves (spec sheet) from ISM The BLV series of vertical type brass miniature valves include three-way ball valves. These three-way valves are typical L-port 180-degree rotation ball valves designed to be used as diverter valves plus one cutoff position.
PBV3 Series 3-Way Ball Valves (spec sheet), PBV3 Series 3-Way Ball Valves Panel Mount (spec sheet) and PBV3L Series Large 3-Way Ball Valves (spec sheet) from ISM These vertical type plastic miniature valves are typical L-port 180-degree rotation ball valves designed to be used as diverter valves plus one cutoff position.
If the valve handle is turned counterclockwise 90 degrees, the L-flow pattern ball inside the valve also rotates 90 degrees counterclockwise. It then diverts flow to the right instead. Flow now passes between the common or bottom port and the right port.
This is where it starts getting a little tricky. A basic L-pattern flow three-way ball valve type (see above) is often limited to only this 90-degree turn of the handle. This very simple three-way ball valve is usually called a two-position valve. It is also called a diverter, selecting or directional valve.
Limits on how far a ball valve handle can rotate are provided by handle stops of some sort (red arrows). These are usually extensions of the handle and the top of the valve body. They function by interfering with handle rotation. These stops prevent the handle from turning beyond a set range of motion.
In a design like this, the handle position could start with a clear flow path between the bottom port and the left port (position 1). Turning the valve handle 90-degrees counterclockwise to its second position still allows flow through the valve, but this time the flow is between the bottom port and the right port.
Turning the valve an additional 90 degrees counterclockwise, 180 degrees total (position 3), cuts off all flow through the valve. These sort of L-pattern flow ball valves are usually called three-position valves: a starting position, a 90 degree turn and a 180 degree turn.
Turning the handle an additional 90 degrees counterclockwise (position 3), 180 degrees from its original position, rotates the valve ball to a position where there is no flow possible between any of the valve ports and this valve is now off.
Turning this valves handle another 90 degrees counterclockwise, 360 degrees total, returns it to its original starting position. Flow can again follow a path through the valve between the bottom common port and the left port.
For many L-pattern flow ball valves, additional flexibility is usually provided by making it possible to reposition the handle. These valves have handles that can be taken off the valves stem and then reattached in a different starting position.
Notice that the stem slot for turning this valve ball is on top. This means the ball is made for a horizontal type three-way valve. If it was intended for a vertical type valve, the stem slot would be opposite the bottom or common bore hole.
T-pattern flow balls, sometimes called 180-degree balls, are widely used to take two inlet flows and combine them to flow out through one common outlet port. Depending on process requirements, the reverse is also possible. That is, split the flow coming in from one common port into two outgoing flows, each exiting the valve through a different valve port.
Like L-pattern valves, T-pattern flow valves change flow paths with a quarter turn of their handle. Depending on the allowed range of handle motion, they can provide diversion flow, mixing or split flow and straight through flow.
In one important way, T-pattern flow ball valves are very different from L-flow pattern ball valves. Typical T-pattern flow valves cannot provide shut-off control. They can either limit flow to any two of the three valve ports or allow flow through all three valve ports at the same time. This is why T-flow pattern ball valves are sometimes called mixing valves.
Mixing valves are alternate names used for T-pattern flow ball valves. This is because this valve design is widely used to mix or combine flow coming two different sources. Ordinary manual three-way T-pattern ball valves used as mixing valves are usually installed with the bottom port of the valve body as the common outlet port.
Like the L-pattern flow ball valves, each 90-degree turn of the handle changes the flow path through the valve. And like the L-pattern flow valves, the turns of the handle may be limited by design using handle stops.
Notice that each flow pattern change, from left to right, each represents one 90-degree counterclockwise turn of the handle. Each turn of the handle causes a corresponding 90-degree turn of the valve ball. This changes the flow path through the valve.
Vertical type T-pattern flow ball valve are a little different than horizontal type valves. With vertical T-pattern valves, the bottom or common port is always open. Turning the valve handle 180 degrees does not change the flow path. If the valve is rotated only 90 degrees in either direction though, where the handle faces either the front or the back of the valve, flow is cut off.
Vertical type T-pattern flow three-way ball valves have one possible flow path and one possible off position. The handle start position is on the left. From left to right, each image represents a 90-degree counterclockwise turn of the valve handle.
Generally, three-way ball valves are described based on their flow patterns (L-pattern or T-pattern flow), handle orientation (horizontal type or vertical type) and the number of 90 degree turns the handle is allowed to rotate:
Depending on how the valve ball is drilled and the piping configuration, gas and liquid flow can be diverted, mixed, blocked in one direction or shut off completely. Multiport valves save space and can eliminate an extra tee and valve. Understanding basic three-way ball valve design options makes it easier to choose the right three-way valve and easier to plan its installation.
Miniature Ball Valves: Plastic, Brass or Stainless Steel? An overview of what matters when choosing a ball valve body material. Temperature, pressure and corrosion resistance are key issues when the choice is between plastic and metal. When metal is definitely the way to go, the most common mini ball valve body metals are brass and stainless steel. Each has its pros and cons.
Extruded, Forged or Cold-Drawn Brasses for Miniature Valves An overview of how brass is formed, worked and shaped to make miniature ball and check valves. Brass is a great material choice for miniature valves. Learn more about why brass is such a useful metal for making valves. This post also covers some of the basics of the most important industrial brass forming techniques.
Personalized customer service and resources available at the ISM website can be a great help when selecting a valve. Available online resources include chemical compatibility reference guides, dimensional drawings and product data sheets. Our online and PDF flow control valve catalogs provide access to a wide variety of miniature valve types, connection types, materials and sizes.
About the author Steven C. Williams, BS, is the technical writer and an inbound marketing specialist at Industrial Specialties Manufacturing (ISM), an ISO 9001-2015 supplier of miniature pneumatic, vacuum and fluid circuitry components to OEM's and distributors all over the world. He writes on technical topics related to miniature pneumatic and fluidic components as well as topics of general interest at ISM.
IMPORTANT: The technical data given in this website is for preliminary information purposes only and is published without guarantee. All line drawings are for illustrative purposes only and should not be regarded as wholly accurate in every detail. We reserve the right to withdraw or to alter the specification of any product without notice. For more information, please consult our Terms of Business.
A wide selection of NIBCO ball valves are available in bronze, brass, lead-free*, carbon steel or stainless steel materials. Select the right ball valve in one-piece, two-piece, three-piece, full port, or conventional port. A range of trim material is available. The right end connections to choose from include press-to-connect, threaded, solder or flanged.
To make your selection easier, NIBCO offers specification and submittal assistance. You also get the assurance of the NIBCO warranty, along with superior customer service expertise. Spec a job, find your distributor, get catalogs and submittals, place and track your order.
PVC ball valves are a simple, yet effective way to control flow in a countless variety of applications, including pools and irrigation. They resist corrosion to an extreme degree and can handle a reasonable range of temperatures and pressures. PVC, however, is not rated for hot water use and can become brittle with age, so sometimes leaks occur. PVC ball valves most often fail around the handle. Luckily, replacing a PVC ball valve handle is easy!
These types of ball valves have stems with O-rings that can fail when pressure or temperature limits are exceeded. On some of the older, more common styles (shown on the right), the handle itself can crack quite easily. Whether or not this causes leaks, it is awfully inconvenient and can make valve operation difficult if not impossible. Keep reading this article for tips on how to replace a ball valve handle.
The two major types of handles found in PVC ball valves, regardless of body or end type, the those with a screw and those without. In this section we will focus on those without a screw. These handles snap on the top of the valve's stem. Despite not being screwed on, they remain in place very well.
Before removing the handle, make sure your system is shut off. To remove it, you just need to firmly tug at the handle until it pops off of the valve. You can often find replacement handles for sale on their own if you know the model number of your PVC ball valve. If you cannot find just the handle, you may want to just buy a whole valve. This will give you a back-up valve body if you ever need it.
Some of the more heavy-duty PVC ball valves have a handle that screws into the stem. This makes the connection stronger, but also makes removing the handle more difficult. Fixing a cracked ball valve handle is not difficult, even when it is screwed onto the valve's stem. You will need a small flat head screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver.
Before removing anything, be sure to turn off the system so the valve is under no pressure during the repair. Using the flat head screwdriver, pop off the small cap in the center of the handle, under which will be a Phillips-head screw. Use your other screwdriver to remove the screw. This should loosen the handle and allow you to remove it easily.
Just as with push-on handles, screw-on handles for PVC ball valves are not very difficult to find on their own (for very low prices) if you know the valve's model number. This is a simple solution that will save you time and money compared to a full valve replacement!
Sometimes, replacing a handle is not enough, and regular PVC ball valves only allow for certain parts to be replaced. If you are using a true union ball valve, you may be able to replace the stem, ball, handle, or ends individually, but that is not always the case. When the valve is beyond repair, the only option is to replace it.
If it is a threaded valve, you can unscrew the ends of the old valve and simply place a new on where it was. If it is a socket valve with cemented connections, you will need to cut the valve out. This could make it difficult to replace the valve. Sometimes re-plumbing a whole section of the system is easier, but it is different for every application.
The pictures and examples we used above were of the most common types of PVC ball valves. However, other, more durable versions are available as well. Below are a few examples of high quality, durable PVC ball valves that are not as crack-prone as the valves above.
These deluxe PVC ball valves have more structurally-sound body shape and handle than traditional flat-handled PVC ball valves. The handle on these valves does not require a screw, which makes handle removal and replacement extremely simple.
True union ball valves have ends that act as union fittings, allowing the valve to be easily unscrewed from the system. These valves also have thicker, stronger handles than the type shown at the top of this article. True union PVC valves can last you a long time due to how easy they are to maintain.
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The standard ISO direct installation function can make the installation of any actuator easy, even after the initial startup of manual configuration. iFlow controls ensure reliability and excellent price-quality ratio.
Ball valve is a form of quarter-turn valve, which uses a hollow, perforated, rotatable ball to control the flow through it. When the hole of the ball is consistent with the flow direction, it is open. When it is rotated 90 degrees by the valve handle, it is closed. When opening, the handle lies flat in the same position as the flow direction. When closed, the handle is perpendicular to the flow direction, which is convenient for vision confirmation the state of the valve. The closed position 1/4 turn can be CW or CCW direction. (S=shut, O=open)
Ball valves with a size of less than 2 inches generally have a one-piece, two-piece or three-piece design. Almost all one-piece ball valves have reduced bore, are relatively cheap, and are generally disposable. Two-piece ball valves are generally slightly reduced in diameter (or standard), they can be thrown or repaired. The three-piece design allows the central part of the valve (including the ball, stem and seat) to be easily removed from the pipeline. This is conducive to clean effectively of deposits, replacement of valve seats and gland packing, and polishing of small scratches on the ball, all these without the need to remove the pipeline from the valve body. The design concept of the three-piece valve is to make it repairable.
There are generally four types of ball valves: full port, standard port, reduce port and v port. The ball size of the full port ball valve is too large, so the hole on the ball has the same size as the pipe, thereby reducing friction loss. The flow is not restricted, but the valve body is larger.
Application: Ball valves are used for flow and pressure control, as well as for the closure of corrosive liquids, mud, ordinary liquids and gases. They are used in the oil and gas industry, but also used in many manufacturing sectors, chemical storage, and even residential.
The valve can be installed in other directions, but any installation that deviates from the vertical is a compromise. It is not recommended to install it upside down, as this will cause dirt to accumulate on the valve cap.
When the handle of the ball valve is parallel to the valve or pipe, it is open. When it is vertical, it is closed. In this way, it is easy to know whether the ball valve is open or closed, just by looking at it. The below ball valve is in the open position.
It is not difficult to repair a cracked ball valve handle, even if it is screwed onto the valve stem. You need a small flat-head screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver. Use another screwdriver to remove the screw. This should loosen the handle, allowing you to remove it easily.
In conclusion, they are not directional. In our application, it usually comes down to the way you like the handle to move. I prefer the engineering convention that the handle points to the direction of flow when the valve is easily positioned.