Valve characteristics selection guidelines


C ontrol valves are called to handle all kinds of fluids at temperatures from the cryogenic range to well over 1,000F (538selecting a control valve to ensure satisfactory operation without undue initial expense.

Reputable control valve manufacturers are dedicated to helping customers select the control valve best suited for the existing service conditions. Frequently several correct choices may be available, thus it is important for customers to provide control valve manufacturers the following information.

  • Type of fluid to be controlled.

  • Temperature range of fluid.

  • Viscosity range of fluid.

  • Specific gravity range of fluid.

  • Minimum and maximum flow required.

  • Minimum and maximum inlet pressure at the control valve.

  • Minimum and maximum outlet pressure at the control valve.

  • Pressure drop across the valve expected during normal flowing conditions.

  • Pressure drop across the valve at zero flow.

  • Maximum permissible noise level, if pertinent, and the measurement reference point.

  • Degrees of superheat or existence of flashing across the valve, if known.

  • Inlet and outlet pipeline size and schedule of pipe.

When conducting an audit of existing processes, the control valve is already installed. The following guidelines can be useful in determining if the control valve installed, is suitable for the application.

Flow control processes

Flow measurement signal to controller

Location of control valve in relation to measuring element

Wide range of flow setpoint

Proportional to flow

In series


In bypass (see note)


Proportional to flow squared

In series


In bypass (see note)

Equal percentage

Small flow range with large changes in pressure drop across the valve

In series

In bypass (see note)

Equal percentage characteristics should be used for applications with a small range of flow setpoint, large delta pressure at the valve, and increasing loads.
Note: When control valve closes, the flow rate as measured by the sensing element increases.

Pressure control processes

Liquid process

Equal percentage

Gas process with small volume and less than 10 ft (3 m) of pipe between control valve and load valve.

Equal percentage

Gas process with large volume (process has a receiver, distribution system, or transmission line exceeding 100 ft (30.5 m) of pipe). As load increases, pressure drop across the valve decreases; and the pressure drop across the valve at maximum load is >20% of the minimum load pressure difference.


Gas process with large volume. As load increases, pressure drop across the valve decreases; and the pressure drop across the valve at maximum load is &20% of the minimum load pressure difference.

Equal percentage

Level control processes

Pressure drop across valve increases with load.


Pressure drop across valve increases greater than 2:1 with load.

Quick opening

Pressure drop across valve decreases with increasing load.


Pressure drop across valve decreases with increasing load and full load pressure drop is &20% of no-load drop.

Equal percentage

The above information was collected from numerous sources including, Control Engineering, Fisher Controls Control Valve Handbook, and Techmation Applications Guide.


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