Ball Valve vs. Butterfly Valve – A Complete Comparison

Butterfly and ball valves are crucial parts of fluid control systems. Although they both control flow, their designs and functions are different.

This comparison examines the features and applications of each in detail.

What is a Ball Valve?

It is a quarter-turn valve that regulates the fluid flow via a pipeline, usually oil, water, or gas, using a perforated hollow sphere.

Turning the handle 90 degrees causes the ball to revolve, allowing the fluid to pass through or block it.

Ball Valve
Ball Valve

Ball valves are well-liked in various sectors because of their sturdiness and usability due to their design’s dependable and rapid shut-off characteristics.

What is a Butterfly Valve?

A butterfly valve is a kind of valve that regulates and isolates the flow of a fluid within a pipeline. It turns a flat, spherical disc (the “butterfly”) inside the valve body.

The disc of the valve is parallel to the flow while the valve is open, enabling free flow of fluid; when the valve is closed, the disc is perpendicular and effectively blocks the flow.

Butterfly Valve
Butterfly Valve

Use butterfly valves in applications like water treatment and industrial processes due to their low cost, small size, and rapid functioning.

How Ball Valve Compared to Butterfly Valve

Valve Symbol:

Ball Valve Symbol

Ball Valve Symbol
Ball Valve Symbol
  • Representation – A straight line or an arrow passing through a circle represents the valve body. The arrow points in the valve’s flow direction.
  • Meaning – It represents the valve’s spherical ball. The valve opens to enable fluid flow when the arrow and the circle align. Perpendicular to circle indicates a closed position when it is present.

Butterfly Valve Symbol

Butterfly Valve Symbol
Butterfly Valve Symbol
  • Representation – An image of a butterfly valve is a circle with a cross-line in the middle. The cross-line represents the flat disc or “butterfly” that regulates flow inside the valve.
  • Meaning – The cross-line indicates the location of the butterfly disc, while the circle denotes the valve body. When the cross-line and circle line up, it indicates the valve is open and enabling fluid to pass.  It implies a closed posture when it is perpendicular to the circle.


Ball Valve

  • Functionality

It regulates fluid flow using a spherical ball with a hole in the middle. The ball’s hole lines up with the pipe when the valve opens, enabling fluid to pass through. Furthermore, the ball rotates 90 degrees when the valve closes, stopping the flow.

  • Pressure Drop

They often have a lower pressure drop than butterfly valves, which implies that when completely opened, they present less flow resistance.

  • Durability

Ball valves are known for their lifespan and robustness, particularly in settings where operations are not frequent.

  • Flow Characteristics

Ball valves provide a reasonably rapid on/off control of flow, according to the flow characteristics. They are the perfect choice for applications in tight shut-off situations since they may be open fully or closed.

Butterfly Valve

  • Functionality

It uses a round disc called a butterfly positioned on a shaft to control flow. When open, the disc is parallel to the flow, enabling fluid to pass through. The disc turns perpendicular to the flow when the valve is closed, essentially stopping it.

  • Pressure Drop

In comparison to ball valves, they frequently have a high-pressure drop. These indicate that they can increase flow resistance, especially at bigger sizes.

  • Size and Weight

Butterfly valves are ideal for applications with restricted space since they are often more space-efficient and lighter than ball valves of comparable size.

  • Cost

Especially at bigger sizes, butterfly valves are frequently more affordable than ball valves.

  • Flow Characteristics

Butterfly valves can offer accurate throttling control while partially open, although they are often less beneficial than ball valves for situations requiring tight shut-off.


Ball Valves

  • Quick On/Off Operation

Ball valves are fantastic for situations where a quick shut-off is essential since they have a rapid open-close action.

  • Tight Shut-Off

When closed, they offer a great seal, minimizing leakage or leaking. Ball valves can endure high temperatures and pressures. Additionally, they are corrosion and wear-resistant. They are versatile and can work with various gases, liquids, and slurries.

  • Less Pressure Drop

They typically introduce less barrier to fluid flow since there is less pressure drop across the valve.

  • Long Service Life

Ball valves have a long operating lifespan when maintained, which makes them a long-term cost-effective option.

Butterfly Valve

  • Compact and Lightweight

Butterfly valves are excellent for applications with limited space since they often weigh less and are more space-efficient than ball valves.

  • Cost-Effective

They frequently exhibit more economy, particularly the bigger sizes, which considerably lower project costs.

  • Good Flow Control

Butterfly valves are appropriate for flow regulation since they can effectively throttle when partially open.

  • Low Maintenance

They have fewer moving components than ball valves and require less maintenance.

  • Less Water Hammer

As opposed to ball valves, butterfly valves usually produce less water hammer, which can be significant in some applications.

  • Ease of Installation

Butterfly valves are frequently uncomplicated to install and require less support structure due to their smaller weight and plain design.


Limitations of Ball Valves

  • Limited Throttling Capability

Ball valves are ideal for on/off control but less for finely regulating flow. They may have issues like cavitation and excessive wear if used for throttling.

Cavitation may occur due to a ball valve’s quick closing in high-pressure applications. Cavitation is a condition in which vapor bubbles develop and burst, possibly damaging the valve and its downstream components.

  • Restricted flow for Solids

A ball valve’s inner design can occasionally produce obstacles that prevent the flow of solid particles or slurries, potentially resulting in blockages.

  • Less Compact in Larger Sizes

In contrast to butterfly valves, ball valves can be heavier and bulkier in larger sizes, which may restrict their usage in locations with limited space.

Limitations of Butterfly Valves

  • Limited Tight Shut-Off

Although butterfly valves can offer decent shut-off, they often fall short of ball valves in terms of creating a seal that is 100 percent leak-proof.

In events where a tight shut-off is crucial, it might not be appropriate.

  • Reduced Durability at High Temperatures

Compared to ball valves, butterfly valves may not function as well in applications involving extremely high temperatures because the materials used for the disc and seat may be less heat-resistant.

  • Lower Pressure Ratings

Contrary to ball valves, they may have lower pressure ratings, which might restrict their application in high-pressure systems.

  • Potential for Erosion and Corrosion

A butterfly valve’s disc is subject to wear over time in abrasive or corrosive fluids, which might result in decreased performance and a need for more regular maintenance.

  • Potential for Water Hammer

When closing quickly, butterfly valves can occasionally produce a water hammer effect that might stress the valve and nearby pipes.

  • Less Versatility with extremely Viscous or Sticky Fluids

Compared to ball valves, they may not be as versatile as when handling extremely viscous or sticky fluids.

Design and Structure (Compare Various Parts)

Ball Valve


The spherical body of a ball valve has a bore running through the middle of it. In addition to housing the ball, this hole also serves as a conduit for fluid passage.


The ball valve’s external shell shields and supports its internal parts. Usually, materials like metal or plastic build it.

The ball is a spherical item with a hole (bore) through the center, which is the main element. This bore regulates the fluid flow. When the bore is in line with the pipe, fluid can travel through; when rotated 90 degrees, it prevents flow.


When the ball valve closes, it contains seats that create a seal around the ball. The typical materials for these chairs are metal or PTFE (Teflon).


The rod that joins the valve handle to the ball is called a stem.

When you open or shut, it transmits the motion from the handle to the ball.


Rotating the ball with the handle is its purpose. It frequently takes the form of a lever or a knob and shows whether the valve is open or closed.

Ball Valve Parts
Ball Valve Parts

End Connections:

Ball valves feature a range of end connectors, including threaded, flanged, or welded alternatives, to make installation easier in diverse systems.

Butterfly Valve


The cylindrical body of a butterfly valve contains a circular disc. The body also acts as a conduit for fluid movement.


The disc, often known as a “butterfly,” is a round, flat plate that pivots on a shaft. By rotating parallel or perpendicular to the fluid channel, it controls flow.


Butterfly valves feature seats that form a seal around the disc. The materials used to make these chairs are often rubber or elastomeric.


The actuator is in charge of rotating the disc. Lever or handwheel-operated controls are manual and automatic (electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic).


The shaft enables the disc to rotate by connecting it to the actuator. It is essential to the valve’s functionality.

End Connections:

Butterfly valves, like ball valves, contain various end connections, including wafers, lug, and flanges, offering installation flexibility.

Lug or Wafer Design:

Butterfly valves may have a lug or wafer design. While the wafer form fits between flanges without bolts, the lug design contains threaded holes for fastening between flanges.

Butterfly Valve Parts
Butterfly Valve Parts

Working Principle of Ball Valves vs Butterfly Valve

Ball Valve


A ball valve works using the quarter-turn concept.

It uses a spherical ball with a central hole (bore).

The ball’s hole lines up with the pipe to enable fluid passage when open. The ball rotates 90 degrees when closed, obstructing the flow.

Flow Control:

On/off control is the purpose of ball valves.

They offer shut-off capabilities that are dependable and rapid. They provide a minimally restricted straight-through flow channel while in the open position.

Sealing Mechanism:

The interaction between the ball and the seats constructed of PTFE or metal is the basis for a ball valve’s sealing mechanism.

The valve seats create a tight seal around the ball to prevent leakage when closed.


Use in applications where tight sealing is essential, such as high-pressure systems where quick shut-off is necessary, because of their superior shut-off capabilities.

Butterfly Valve


The operation of a butterfly valve is similar to that of a ball valve based on the quarter-turn concept.

It uses a butterfly, a flat, spherical disc attached to a shaft.

The disc is parallel to the flow when open, enabling fluid to pass through. The disc effectively blocks the flow when closed since it is perpendicular.

Flow Control:

Butterfly valves are adaptable and, even just half open, may offer accurate throttling control. They work well for on/off applications as well. They might not, however, offer a shut-off as tight as ball valves.

Sealing Mechanism:

The interface between the seats (usually composed of rubber or elastomeric materials) and the discs acts as the butterfly valve’s primary point of contact for sealing.

The seats surround the outside of the disc when the valve is closed, creating a seal.


Employ butterfly valves in situations where flow management is prime, but shut-off isn’t always essential.

Use in systems that have big pipes and low pressure.


Ball Valve Applications

  • High-Pressure Systems

Because ball valves can close tightly, they are a good choice for high-pressure applications.

  • Isolation and Shut-Off

They work great for applications that need a dependable and speedy shut-off, including emergency shut-down systems. Use ball valves for throttling in low-pressure systems when there isn’t much worry about the pressure drop across the valve.

  • Clean Services

They are frequently utilized in petrochemical, pharmaceutical, and water treatment because they are appropriate for handling clean fluids, gases, and slurries.

  • Applications for High Temperature

Ball valves are well suited for use in industrial processes since they can withstand high temperatures.

Application of Butterfly Valves

  • Large Diameter Pipes

Butterfly valves are used in large pipes because their larger diameters allow for high cost and space efficiency.

  • Low-Pressure Systems

Utilize them in irrigation, water treatment facilities, and HVAC systems, where pressure drop is unimportant.

  • Flow Regulation

Butterfly valves’ capacity to partially open or close makes them useful for flow control.

  • Lighter Duty Services

Use in applications where the fluid is pure and not very corrosive, abrasive, or hot.

  • Economical solutions

Butterfly valves are options for projects with limited budgets since they are often more affordable, especially in bigger sizes.

  • Space Restrictions

Their lightweight construction and small shape make them appropriate for installations with limited space.


Choosing between a ball and a butterfly valve depends on specific operating requirements. Ball valves perform well in tight shut-off situations with high pressure.

On the other hand, butterfly valves provide accurate flow control and cost-effective alternatives for big pipelines. Both are essential to maintaining effective fluid management across a range of businesses.

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