Choosing the right valve for your application

Valves are some of the most important components in any pneumatic system, so choosing the right valve for your application is critical. There are various factors to consider when selecting the best pneumatic valve for your specific needs. Here, API UK explains the different types of valves available and how to match them to your specific application.



pneumatic valve is used to control the flow of fluids, typically gases. Pneumatic valves are key components in many pneumatic systems and are crucial for controlling the flow of compressed air to pneumatic cylinders (as well as other pneumatic components). When selecting a pneumatic valve, there are various factors to consider, including the valve function, type of actuator, installation setup, flow capacity, and media.



Choosing the right valve requires a deep understanding of your application’s specific requirements and the types of valves and configurations that will best suit your needs. When choosing a pneumatic valve, it is important to bear the following selection criteria in mind to ensure you find the right fit for your application. 


The function required by your application will determine the type of valve needed. For example, 2-way valves have an outlet and an inlet port for a simple on-off function, whereas 3-way valves have an extra port to exhaust the valve. Then you have 4-way valves with a second outlet and exhaust. Typically, 3-way valves are used with single-acting pneumatic cylinders, while 4-way valves are preferred for double-acting actuators.


Pneumatic valves can be actuated using a variety of methods. Common actuation types include manual, mechanical, electromagnetic or pneumatic. Electromagnetic solenoid valves are often favoured in applications requiring fast, automated switching or fail-safe systems. On the other hand, single and double-acting pneumatic actuators deliver reliable, high-speed mechanical movement for robotics and machine tools.


There are several installation factors to bear in mind. The first point is to ensure that the installation area has adequate space to accommodate the correctly sized compressor, which in turn will influence the size of the actuator required. The second point is to avoid horizontal actuator installations wherever possible to avoid leaks caused by any additional wear from the pressure exerted on one side of the valve packing.


Another important parameter when choosing the right valve is flow capacity. Identifying the required flow rate is vital to properly size a corresponding valve. If the valve’s flow capacity is too small, it will deliver less flow, and the actuator won’t function properly. On the other hand, if the valve’s flow capacity is too big, you risk wasting air and money. Most manufacturers provide the flow capacity for their valves in technical materials.


If your valve is used to control any fluid other than air, you’ll need to select an appropriate valve type and material. For example, an actuated ball valve constructed from brass is suitable for use with water, inert gases and non-aggressive fluids. Meanwhile, a corrosion-resistant, stainless steel spool valve is ideal for use with a stainless steel pneumatic actuator in hazardous, corrosive application environments.

valve types and specifications


As a leading industrial valve supplier, API UK supplies various industrial and process control valves. Constructed from lightweight aluminium or corrosion-resistant 316 stainless steel, our industrial valves feature rugged anodised aluminium spools to ensure long service life. Available in various sizes, API pneumatic valves can be tailored to suit your application requirements. We can supply the following types of valves:



Choosing the right valve for your application requires careful consideration of all the relevant factors, including the valve function, type of actuator, installation, flow capacity, and media. Knowing what to look for can help you to make an informed decision about the type of valve you need, so you can get up and running quickly with minimal disruption or downtime. The experts at API UK can simplify the selection process for you. 

API UK is a leading manufacturer and supplier of high-quality pneumatic valves, offering outstanding products from our own line of precision-engineered pneumatic components. With many years of experience in the pneumatics industry, our team is on hand to offer tailored advice and support to help ensure you choose the right pneumatic valve for your needs. Choosing the right valve is simple with API UK by your side.

 To discuss your pneumatic valve requirements or to arrange a free on-site visit, speak with the technical team at API UK today for expert advice and guidance. As expert pneumatic valve manufacturers, we can help you understand the full range of options available to you and guide you towards the best system solution for your application. So call us today on 01782 206 995, email [email protected], or complete our contact form.