A Ball valve is a quarter-turn rotary motion valve that uses a ball-shaped disk to stop or start the flow. It resembles a plug valve in many ways. When a port in the ball is in line, it allows flow whereas when you rotate the valve 90 degrees, solid part of the ball stop the flow.

Most ball valves are of the quick-acting type, which requires a 90° turn of the valve handle to operate the valve. But in case large size valve which required considerable force to open or close the valve, the gear-operated actuator is used. With this arrangement, a small handwheel is enough to operate a fairly large valve.

In this article, I have covered following types of Ball Valves that used in piping.

  • Floating
  • Trunnion Mounted
  • 3 Way
  • Top entry
  • Side entry or split body
  • Three-piece body

Check this video for the better understanding on this topics.

Floating Ball Valve

In a floating ball valve, the ball is held in the position by the compression of the two elastomeric seats against the ball. The ball is free to float inside the valve body.  See the highlighted portion in the image and remember as you will see the difference when I will explain to you about the trunnion mounted valve.

floating ball valve

The stem is connected to a slot at the top of the ball which allows the ball to rotate a quarter turn (90 degrees).  The shaft allows for a certain amount of lateral movement of the ball that is generated from the upstream pressure acting on the ball.  This small lateral movement, in fact, produces a load on the ball that presses it against the downstream seat which improves leak tightness of valve. This type of valve design is capable of bi-directional shut-off. The floating valve is very difficult to operate when upstream pressure is high. You can see the image of a floating type valve.

Check the video below to learn how this floating type valve works.

Trunnion Mounted Ball Valve

Trunnion mounted valve is a solution to the problem of excessive torque required by a floating type valve in high-pressure service. A short shaft like an extension which is known as a trunnion set in the body. You can see this in the image.  In this design steam and ball work as a single unit. The ball is supported by two floating or spring-loaded seats that remain in constant contact with the ball.

trunnion mounted ball valve


Trunnion ball design required a lower operating torque. Hence, reduces the size of the actuator and overall costs of the valve. This cost difference becomes an important factor when the pressure class and valve size increases. Check the video below for an animation of this type of valve.

Check this video to know how Trunnion Mounted Ball Valve works.

Piping Courses

3 Way Ball Valve

3 way ball valve

Depending on your requirements, you can arrange the port of valve in the three-way.

  1. One inlet and two distribute
  2. One inlet and one outlet with diverting a flow
  3. Stright pass the fluid without No inlet

Three patterns are available. Venturi port type, full port type, and reduced port type. The full-port ball valve has an inside diameter equal to the inside diameter of the pipe. This design allows pigging. In the venturi and reduced-port types, the port is generally one pipe size smaller than the line size.

The ball type disc can be a free float or fixed in the valve body. A free-floating valve is known as a floating type whereas a fixed type valve is known as a trunnion mounted valve.


Types of Ball Valves based on Body Construction

Ball valves are manufactured in different body arrangements. Based on this valve can be classified in the following ways;

  • Top entry
  • Side entry or split body
  • Three-piece body

For Extremely high pressure and temperature services, the full welded body is also used.

Top-Entry Ball Valve

Top Entry Ball Valve


As you can see in the image above, removing bonnet cover of top entry valves, allows access to valve internals for assembly, disassembly, repair, or maintenance without removing the valve from the pipeline.

Split-Body Ball Valve

In this design, a valve body is divided into two or three body parts. A ball, seat rings, stem, and other internals set inside the larger body part and held together with smaller parts by bolting.

For a split body, two pieces valve, refer floating ball valve image. Refer below image for split body three pieces type valve.

trunnion mounted 3 pieces ball valve


Ball Valve Parts

Ball Valve Parts

Major components of the valve are the body, spherical ball, steam, and seats. It can be metal seated or soft seated. This valve may be unidirectional, bidirectional, or multidirectional, depending on the number of valve ports and the number of valve seats. Same as multiport plug valve. In the image below, you can see the 3-way ball valve.

Applications of the Valve

  • It can be used in different types of fluid services as an on-off stop valve that provides bubble-tight shutoff.
  • It can be used in air, gaseous, and vapor services as well as hydrocarbon services.
  • Metal seated valves can be used in high-pressure & temperature applications.
  • it is widely used with instrument tubing to connect instruments.


  • It is quick to open and close type that provides bubble-tight reliable sealing in high-pressure temperature applications.
  • It is smaller and lighter than a gate valve of the same size and rating.
  • Several designs of ball valves offer the flexibility of selection so that you can choose the valve that suits your requirements.
  • Easy to operate and Cost-effective maintenance.


  • It cannot be used in service that required throttling.
  • In slurry or other similar applications, the suspended particles can settle and become trapped in body cavities causing wear, leakage, or valve failure.
  • Due to rapid opening and closing, surge pressures may arise which could damage downstream equipment.

Click here to learn about Other Types of Valve

Gate Valve
globe valve
check valve