Pipe vs. Tube

Do I use pipe or tubing? It’s a common question when faced with new fluid system design and installation, or with the modification/maintenance of an existing system. In order to maximize your investment, and ensure system performance, it’s critical to understand and weigh the advantages and drawbacks of both pipe and tubing.

While pipe and tubing are often designed to serve the same purpose, the two differ in many ways. Several key areas of difference include:

  • Ease of installation
  • Up-front component cost vs. total cost of ownership
  • Reliability and performance

In general, tubed systems are easier to install than piped systems. While piping requires specialty equipment and the knowledge to properly run it, such as band-saws and threading machines, tubing does not. Many tube fittings need only simple wrenches for installation, and tubing generally only needs a standard tubing cutter and deburring tool to be prepped for installation.

Pipe and pipe fittings usually have a lower up-front cost than comparable tubing and tube fittings. However, there’s more to cost than just the up-front cost of components. Because tubing is easier to install, it takes less time to install a tubed system. Many times the total cost for install of a tubed system can be more than 30% less than a comparable piped system! Reducing installation time means you pay less for labor, are up and running sooner, and free up valuable resources for the next job.

Tubed systems are generally much more reliable than piped systems and significantly easier to maintain. Quality tube fittings consistently outperform threaded connections and are much easier to service when necessary. Tubed systems can utilize bends to reduce the number of connections. Fewer connections means fewer potential leak points and also reduces component costs. Tubing bends also creates less pressure drop than a pipe elbows. Less pressure drop and fewer leaks equals better system performance!

Want to learn more? Our Tube Fitting Essentials training course provides an in-depth look at the advantages and disadvantages of both piped and tubed systems, as well as a number of other considerations and best practices for today’s fluid systems.

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • Employ knowledge regarding:
    • Tubing selection, preparation, and safe installation
    • Tube fitting design advantages and disadvantages
    • Proper selection and installation of tube and adapter fittings as, well as threaded connections
    • Use of installation and inspection tools
  • Understand the relationship between installation requirements and safety in the workplace
  • Know the difference between pipe and tubing

Questions on how to choose what's best for your application? Email or call 866.901.0151.