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Turbine Flow Meters

What are Turbine Flow Meters?

Turbine flow meters belong to a larger class of flow meters that can be classified as “rotating vane flow meters”. This type of flow meter technology includes turbine flow meters, paddle wheel flow meters, and Pelton wheel flow meters. Each version offers a slightly different variation on the shape of the element that is put into rotation by flowing media. If interested, visit out article on paddle wheel flow meters and Pelton wheel flow meters to learn more about these similar rotating vane flow meter options.

Types of Rotating Vane Flow Meters

How Does a Turbine Flow Meter Work?

Turbine flow meters utilize the motion of the flowing media to mechanically turn an angled, twisted, or bladed rotor that essentially face the flow “straight on”. The flow is parallel to the axle. Some common examples to visualize the concept are outboard boat motors, windmills, airplane engines, and simple house fans.

As the media moves through the pipe, the turbine begins to spin, and the motion is detected electronically by a magnetic pick-up, an inductive pick-up, or optical detection. The rotational speed of the turbine within the flow is a direct function of volumetric flow rate. A frequency output is then either used directly or converted into a proportional analog signal.

Turbine Type Motion

What are the Advantages of Turbine Flow Meters?

Turbine flow meters offer a lot of advantages.

  • Economical price compared to other technology types
  • Fast response time and highly repeatable
  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Universal mounting positions
  • Provides direct volumetric flow measurement
  • Many can be coupled with monitoring electronics
  • Minimal pressure-drop
  • Can sense low flow rates

What are the Disadvantages of Turbine Flow Meters?

Turbine flow meters have some elements that must be considered before deciding whether they are a suitable choice for an application.

  • Over-ranging (running above max flow rate) causes excessive wear
  • Ferrous particles must be filtered out upstream of the flow meter for some models
  • Magnetic particles in the water can impeded the output signal for some models
  • Pipes must be consistently full for accurate readings
  • They are not typically bi-directional, although some models can be
  • They are primarily best suited for clean, low viscosity media
  • They have straight piping requirements to reduce flow turbulence, which affects accuracy
Turbine Flow Meter Advantages and Disadvantages

How Accurate are Turbine Flow Meters?

For a mechanical means of flow measurement, turbine flow meters offer great accuracy. The only way to guarantee better accuracy than a turbine meter would be to choose one of the flow measurement technologies that do not use a mechanical means of measurement, like magnetic or Coriolis flow meters. Average accuracy from turbine flow meters is 0.5% to 1.5%.

They are relatively more accurate than their other rotating vane counterparts and other mechanical flow meter technology types. Paddle wheel flow meters offer a general accuracy of 2.5% to 5% and Pelton wheel flow meters offer an accuracy of 1.5% to 3%. To see a full explanation of flow meter accuracy for all the flow meter technology types, visit our article.

What are the Straight Pipe Requirements for Turbine Flow Meters?

Turbine flow meter straight pipe requirements depend on some of the variables of the flow profile created by the piping. Standard straight runs for turbine flow meters are usually 10 to 15 times upstream and downstream. However, obstruction or changes in pipe direction increase the straight length requirements. 90-degree pipe shifts, like elbows or tees, require 20 times. Partially open valves require 25 times, and for two elbows or any spiraling flow, it is 50 times. To learn more about straight upstream and downstream pipe requirements, visit our in-depth article.

Are Turbine Flow Meters Suitable for Water?

Because turbine meters are best suited to measuring clean and low viscosity liquids, turbine flow meters are almost always suitable for water flow measurement. They offer a higher-than-average accuracy for a mechanical water flow meter. When considering a turbine flow meter for water, make sure that the water does not have large particulate matter that will build up behind the turbine or damage the turbine mechanism. Also evaluate whether that water is free of magnetic particles and iron.

What Other Liquids Can Turbine Flow Meters Measure?

If the liquid meets the requirements of not being too viscous or full of particulate matter, turbine flow meters are suitable for a wide variety of liquids. Media compatibility can depend on the material of the flow body. Some are constructed of metal like stainless steel and some are constructed of plastic. Plastic models offer a cost savings over metal models and are an economical solution for many simple, lower pressure liquid flow applications.

Liquid Turbine Flow Meters

Are Turbine Flow Meters Inline or Insertion?

Inline turbine flow meters are the more common installation type of turbine flow meters. For smaller line sizes, they are generally the installation type of choice. Turbine flow meters are also available in insertion models for larger line sizes. Because they do not contain an integral flow body, they are able to measure flow in larger pipes with higher flow velocities for a much more economical price.

Insertion meters are installed into a piping system by creating an insertion hole. The measuring probe is then inserted into the flow and the electronics above the probe are affixed to the pipe with an integral fitting. When using an insertion turbine flow meter, make sure that the probe is located well within the highest velocity part of the flow stream and ensure that it is not inserted too far, where the turbine mechanism would be impeded by the side of the pipe.

Do Turbine Flow Meters Have Digital Displays?

Turbine flow meters are available with electronic outputs and digital displays. Certain digital displays only display the flow rate and others offer process control capabilities such as batching and totalizing.

Digital Turbine Flow Meters

Do Turbine Flow Meters Have Switches?

Turbine flow meters sometimes offer integral or optional flow switch capabilities. They are not typically manufactured as stand-alone, switch only, no flow rate reading models.

How Much Do Turbine Flow Meters Cost?

Turbine flow meters deliver a great value when better than average accuracy is desired from a mechanical means of flow measurement. They are cheaper than other flow meter technology types without moving parts that deliver similar accuracy, like ultrasonic or vortex flow meters.

Turbine Flow Meter Manufacturers

KOBOLD offers inline turbine flow meters. We have models for both gas and liquids. Build materials for different models include plastic or metal. We are experts in finding the perfect turbine flow meter for your exact application and our friendly and knowledgeable engineering staff are ready to assist you in finding the ideal solution. In addition to standard models, we also offer OEM models and would be happy to discuss whether they are a good fit for your application.

Learn more about why you should partner with KOBOLD for your application.

Help Selecting a Turbine Flow Meter
Featured Products
Turbine Flow Meter
DOT - Turbine Flow Meter/Monitor for Low-Viscosity Liquids

For Liquids | Durable Stainless Steel Body and Rotor | Low Pressure Drop | Optional Batching and Totalizing | NPT or ANSI Connections | Up to 3,600 PSI | Up to 250 °F

OEM Turbine Flow Sensor
DRS - OEM Turbine Flow Sensor

Made in the USA | For Liquids | Plastic, Brass, or SS | Up to 10.5 GPM | Up to 230 PSI | Up to 300 °F | NPT Threads

Low Volume Turbine Type Flow Meters
KFF/KFG - Low Volume, Rotating Vane Flow Meters

KFF for Liquids | KFG for Gas | With or Without LCD Display | Tube Fittings | Up to 500 PSIG | Up to 120 °F

High Precision Turbine Flow Sensor
SFL - High Precision Turbine Flow Sensor

For Liquids | Bearing-less Turbine Design Delivers Long Service Life | PVDF or SS

All-Plastic Turbine Flow Meter
TUR - All-Plastic Turbine Flow Meter

For Liquids | Chemically Resistant PVC or PVDF Builds | Variety of Outputs-Totalizers-Batchers | Up to 440 GPM | Up to 145 PSI | Up to 160 °F | ANSI Flanges


KOBOLD USA is a subsidiary of KOBOLD Messring GmbH, a world-leading instrumentation engineering business founded in Germany in 1980 by Klaus J. Kobold. With patented technology and superior service, the company quickly established itself as one of the global leaders in sensor and control systems with high quality products. The KOBOLD brand name became synonymous with superior quality and technological advancement in instrumentation engineering.

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