Centrifugal pumps are found in many industrial applications. They provide excellent operational efficiency and versatility when it comes to pressures and liquid flows. Inline centrifugal pumps will come in to distinct configurations: horizontal and vertical.
What are the differences between the two inline styles of centrifugal pumps? And, which one is right for your process application? These are questions we are here to answer.
Basic Design Differences
The first and most obvious difference is the orientation of the shaft. A horizontal centrifugal pump will have its shaft placed horizontally, typically between the bearings or overhung. Meanwhile, a vertical centrifugal pump has a shaft that is oriented vertically. The design of the shaft is radial split and overhang.
Deciding which pump to use in your operation may come down to several factors. Among them are the overall convenience of running and maintaining the pump, installation space and functionality. With this in mind, we’ll now look at some pros and cons for each pump design.
Horizontal Centrifugal Pumps – Pros and Cons
On the positive side, horizontal centrifugal pumps are easier to install and maintain with internal parts that are simple to access. You can choose the proper shaft design to provide the desired pumping pressure. Low suction applications will be best with an overhang shaft while you’ll want an in-bearing shaft for high suction pressure. Horizontal centrifugal pumps can easily be coupled securely with external accessories such as turbines, electric motors or fuel-powered engines. Lastly, the low headroom of a horizontal pump makes it great for indoor applications where vertical space is often tight.
On the downside, a horizontal centrifugal pump will take up a larger footprint if floor space is a concern in your plant. In general, the working temperature and pressure are lower in horizontal pumps when compared to vertical alternatives. You would also not want to use a horizontal centrifugal pump for an application that require more NPSH (net positive suction head) than the NPSH that the particular pump can provide. It will have limited capacity in that sense.
Vertical Centrifugal Pumps – Pros and Cons
When you have a restricted surface area and need a pump that takes up a much smaller footprint, vertical centrifugal pumps will definitely take up less floor space. They are well-suited for liquids with high temperatures and pressures, and the NPSH can be altered to handle a wider range of applications.
You will need a lot of headroom for a vertical pump, which makes them more difficult to install and maintain. Most will also require a pit and barrel (especially for larger multi-stage pumps). Vertical centrifugal pumps can only be coupled with electric motors, as well. Some operating challenges happen at high-suction pressures because the overhang shaft design makes it difficult to balance the axial thrust. Likewise, liquids with high concentrations of dissolved gases are tough to handle and can cause mechanical seals to fail.
Selecting and configuring the proper horizontal or vertical pump for your application is critical, so you will want to work with an expert like Cortech DXP to get all the answers you need before making your final pump decision. We represent all the world’s top vertical and horizontal centrifugal pump manufacturers including Blackmer, Pumpworks, Sundyne, Vertiflow, Ansimag and Floway (among others). Let us help you find the pump that is best suited to your needs. Contact us today or visit our website for more information about centrifugal pumps and accessories.