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Comparing Friction Loss in Steel, Copper and Plastic Pipes

Water flow and friction head loss (ft/100 ft) in steel, copper and PVC plastic pipes

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Due to differences in inside cross sectional areas, wet surfaces and the roughness of the surfaces - there can be significant difference in friction head loss in steel, copper and plastic PVC pipes. The difference varies with size of pipe and flow rate.

  • The difference in friction loss increase with decreased dimension and increased flow rate

The friction loss in feet of head per 100 feet of Steel pipes Schedule 40, Copper pipes Type L and thermoplastic PVC pipes Schedule 40 are compared below.

  • 1 ftH2O/100 ft = 0.44 psi/100ft = 9.8 kPa/100 m = 1000 mmH2O/100 m
3 in.
Flow Rate
(gal/min)

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Friction Loss (ft/100 ft)
Steel pipe Schedule 40 Copper pipe Type L PVC pipe Schedule 40
50 0.7 0.8 0.6
60 1.0 1.1 0.9
70 1.3 1.5 1.2
80 1.7 1.8 1.5
90 2.1 2.3 1.8
100 2.5 2.7 2.2
150 5.3 5.7 4.8
200 9.1 9.5 8.1
250 13.6 14.2 12.8
300 19.8 19.8 17.1
400 34.2 33.4 29.0
4 in.
Flow Rate
(gal/min)
Friction Loss (ft/100 ft)
Steel Pipe
Schedule 40
Copper Pipe
Type L
PVC Pipe
Schedule 40
100 0.7 0.7 0.6
150 1.4 1.5 1.3
200 2.4 2.5 2.2
250 3.6 3.7 3.3
300 5.0 5.1 4.6
400 8.7 8.6 7.8
5 in.
Flow Rate
(gal/min)
Friction Loss (ft/100 ft)
Steel Pipe
Schedule 40
Copper Pipe
Type L
PVC Pipe
Schedule 40
150 0.5 0.8 0.4
200 0.8 0.8 0.7
250 1.2 1.3 1.1
300 1.6 1.8 1.5
400 2.8 2.9 2.6
500 4.3 4.4 3.9
6 in.
Flow Rate
(gal/min)
Friction Loss (ft/100 ft)
Steel Pipe
Schedule 40
Copper Pipe
Type L
PVC Pipe
Schedule 40
150 0.2 0.2 0.2
200 0.3 0.4 0.3
250 0.5 0.5 0.4
300 0.7 0.7 0.6
400 1.1 1.2 1.1
500 1.7 1.8 1.6
750 3.7 3.8 3.4
1000 6.3 6.5 5.8
8 in.
Flow Rate
(gal/min)
Friction Loss (ft/100 ft)
Steel Pipe
Schedule 40
PVC Pipe
Schedule 40
150 0.05 0.05
200 0.08 0.08
250 0.12 0.12
300 0.17 0.16
400 0.3 0.28
500 0.4 0.4
750 0.9 0.9
1000 1.6 1.5
1250 2.4 2.3
1500 3.5 3.2
2000 6.0 5.5
10 in.
Flow Rate
(gal/min)
Friction Loss (ft/100 ft)
Steel Pipe
Schedule 40
PVC Pipe
Schedule 40
200 0.03 0.03
250 0.04 0.04
300 0.06 0.05
400 0.1 0.09
500 0.15 0.14
750 0.3 0.3
1000 0.5 0.5
1250 0.8 0.8
1500 1.1 1.1
2000 1.9 1.8
12 in.
Flow Rate
(gal/min)
Friction Loss (ft/100 ft)
Steel Pipe
Schedule 40
PVC Pipe
Schedule 40
400 0.04 0.04
500 0.06 0.06
750 0.13 0.13
1000 0.2 0.21
1250 0.3 0.32
1500 0.5 0.45
2000 0.8 0.8
3000 1.7 1.6
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