Of all the various types of valves available on the market for liquids, ball valve
s are probably the most common. Their popularity comes from the ability of this type of valve to be used in a wide variety of applications, providing positive sealing even after years of neglect.
The name 'ball valve' refers to the functioning portion of the valve, which as opposed to being a gate or flapper is an actual ball. There is a hole drilled through the valve, for the fluid to pass when open. The actuator is attached to the valve, at ninety degrees from this hole. When it is turned ninety degrees, it puts the hole perpendicular to the opening in the pipe or tubing, presenting a solid face to the flow path.
Due to its basic design, ball valves are highly versatile. They can withstand high pressure without damage, and are easily adaptable to either manual operation, or solenoid operation. The design also adapts quickly to a variety of materials, permitting the same basic design to be used for corrosive liquids as well.
Since there is only one moving part, and very limited possibility of abrasion, ball valves are extremely long lasting. Unlike gate valves and some others, they do not need to be lubricated as a protection from the elements.
A variation of the ball valve, called a 3-way valve has the hole drilled through the ball in such a way as to form a ninety degree elbow. With this design, the valve can be used as a diverter valve, channeling an incoming liquid stream into either of two different directions, or shutting off the flow entirely. Another variation, the 4-way valve has a T drilled through the ball, allowing it to connect any three of four ports for more complicated diverter designs. Like the basic ball valve, these styles can be made for either manual or solenoid operation.
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