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Pipe Velocity Calculator

Water flow rates are measured by the volume of water passing per unit of time. The water flow rate, along with the pipe diameter can be converted to a velocity using a pipe velocity calculator.

Pipe velocity calculator

What is the Pipe Velocity Calculation Used For, and Why is it Important?

Pipe velocity is the speed at which fluid flows through a pipe and is usually measured in terms of m/s or ft/s.

It’s important to know what your pipe velocity is because it relates closely to frictional losses. The higher the velocity of a fluid, the higher the friction loss is.

High friction loss affects the pump’s performance, as well as other related equipment, which might mean you have to opt for bigger pumps.

Larger pumps and equipment can increase the capital cost of the building and also increase the operational cost to run the building. So this calculation is vital when designing a system.

The Imperial Equation

The following equation can be used to calculate the pipe velocity:

V = 0.408 Q/D


Components of the Equation

V = Water velocity inside the pipe (ft/second)

Q = Water flow rate inside the pipe (GPM)

D = Pipe inside diameter (inner diameter) (in)

The Metric Equation

The following equation can be used to calculate the pipe velocity:

V = 1.274 Q/D


Components of the Equation

VWater velocity inside the pipe (m/second)

Q = Volume flow (m³/second)

D = Pipe inside diameter (inner diameter) (m)

Pipe Velocity Calculator

As the pipe velocity calculation can be measured in ft/second and m/second, there are two different calculation methods to establish pipe velocity:

Imperial pipe velocity calculator

Water Flow Rate

The flow rate of the fluid is the volume of fluid that passes through an area in a unit of time. It is measured in m³/s, GPM, or l/s and is directly proportional to the pipe flow velocity.

Pipe Internal Diameter

There is an inverse relationship between the internal diameter of a pipe and the pipe velocity. This means that the water velocity will increase as the pipe diameter decreases.

Pipe velocity calculation free spreadsheet


There can be a difference between the values spreadsheet and values in the H2X result due to the rounding up of multiple decimal places within the calculation. The difference generally occurs by the third decimal place in the flow velocity result.

Using Our Pipe Velocity Calculator

This free spreadsheet contains the pipe velocity formula that is used for the H2X calculations. The spreadsheet calculates the water velocity if you have the following variables available:

Flow rate

Pipe diameter


Pipe Diameter and Water Flow Rate

As shown in the calculations below, pipe velocity depends on two main factors:

The water flow rate

The pipe diameter

All pipe materials and sizes available in H2X have been verified against the above spreadsheet.

You can check the verified results below.

The objective behind creating H2X was to use modern technology combined with recognised methods of plumbing engineering to automate plumbing calculations, so you can save hours designing each project while reducing errors, rework, and costs.

Using H2X, you won’t need to use a pipe velocity calculator as the process is streamlined.

The process that you follow when using H2X is:

Set the parameter for maximum velocity

Draw the pipe layout

The flow rate is calculated based on how many fixtures are connected to the pipe.

The pipe size is calculated using the mass flow rate and maximum velocity parameter.

The pressure drop through the pipes, valves and fittings can then be calculated

How Can H2X Simplify Manually Calculating the Pipe Velocity?

Besides the fact that manually calculating pipe velocity is a time-consuming process, any manual calculation opens up the doors for human error.

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What pipe velocity should I design to?

This depends on the following variables:

The local standard

For example, pipes are generally designed to higher velocities in the USA compared to the UK

The pipe material

For example, stainless steel pipes can generally be designed to higher velocities than copper pipes

If the pipe is above a habitable space

For example, if the pipe is above a room such as a bedroom, the pipe velocity should be kept low to avoid unwanted noise. Whereas, a pipe in a factory could be designed to a higher velocity.

The application

For example, pipes containing hot water in recirculating systems should be designed to a lower velocity than cold water pipes

Typical water velocity in a pipe is generally between 0.7-2.4 m/s. Typical velocities are:

Velocities should not go lower than 0.7m/s as this is required to maintain a self-cleansing velocity. For example, if liquids contain solid particles, engineers try to achieve a higher velocity so that the heavy particles in the liquid don’t settle and cause blockage in the pipe.

Hot water return velocity - 0.7-1m/s or 2-3 ft/s

Hot water flow velocity - 1.2-1.5m/s or 4-5 ft/s

Cold water velocity - 1.5-2.4m/s or 5-8 ft/s

How does velocity affect equipment life?

The right velocity will allow the system to run smoothly for longer periods. This will also save on maintenance costs.

Laminar or turbulent flow?

If the pipe velocity is high, the fluid flow will be called turbulent flow. With a turbulent flow, there is no smoothness in the process. Instead, the pipe experiences random mixing. A turbulent flow results in an increased head loss (or pressure drop) and causes extensive wear to the pump and other parts as well.

Similarly, if the pipe velocity is low, the fluid flow is known as a laminar flow. With a laminar flow, a regular and consistent fluid flow is witnessed throughout the pipe. Laminar flow would provide improved overall system efficiency.