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What Are the Differences between Centrifugal Pumps and Multistage Pumps


Pumps are essential devices used in various industries, from water supply and wastewater treatment to chemical processing and oil refineries. Among the different types of pumps, two popular options are centrifugal pumps and multistage pumps.

While both serve the primary function of moving fluids, they differ significantly in their construction, performance, and applications.

In this article, we will delve into the differences between centrifugal pumps and multistage pumps, shedding light on their respective characteristics and suitability for specific tasks.

What are Centrifugal Pumps?

Centrifugal pumps are among the most common types of pumps, appreciated for their simplicity, reliability, and versatility. They operate based on the principle of centrifugal force, which is the outward force experienced by an object moving in a curved path.

The fundamental components of a centrifugal pump include an impeller, a casing, and an inlet/outlet.

Impeller: The impeller is a rotating component within the pump that is responsible for imparting kinetic energy to the fluid. When the impeller spins, it generates a centrifugal force that forces the fluid to move outward, increasing its velocity.

Casing: The casing encloses the impeller and guides the fluid as it flows through the pump. It has a volute shape that helps convert the kinetic energy into pressure energy.

Inlet/Outlet: The pump has an inlet where the fluid enters, and an outlet where it exits. The pressure difference between the inlet and outlet causes the fluid to flow through the pump.

KENFLO Centrifugal Pump

KENFLO Centrifugal Pump

What are the Features of Centrifugal Pumps?

Centrifugal pumps offer several key characteristics:

Simplicity: Centrifugal pumps are relatively simple in design, making them easy to manufacture, maintain, and repair. This simplicity contributes to their widespread use in various applications.

High Flow Rate: These pumps are ideal for applications that require a high flow rate but relatively low discharge pressure, such as water circulation in swimming pools or cooling systems.

Non-Positive Displacement: Centrifugal pumps are non-positive displacement pumps, meaning they do not have a fixed internal volume. The flow rate varies with the pressure and can be throttled by valve adjustments.

Low to Medium Pressure: Centrifugal pumps are suitable for applications where the required pressure is within the range of low to medium. They may not be suitable for high-pressure applications.

What are Multistage Pumps?

Multistage pumps, as the name suggests, consist of multiple stages or impellers arranged in series within a single casing. These pumps are designed to overcome the limitations of single-stage centrifugal pumps by increasing the pressure capability. Each stage comprises an impeller and a diffuser. The diffuser slows down the flow and converts kinetic energy into pressure energy before the fluid enters the next stage.

KENFLO Multistage Pump

KENFLO Multistage Pump

What are the Features of Multistage Pumps?

Multistage pumps possess distinctive characteristics that set them apart from their single-stage counterparts:

High Pressure: Multistage pumps are designed to provide high discharge pressures, making them suitable for applications where substantial pressure is required, such as high-rise building water supply, boiler feed systems, and desalination plants.

Energy Efficiency: By dividing the pressure generation into multiple stages, these pumps can maintain a relatively high level of energy efficiency while delivering the necessary pressure.

Positive Displacement Effect: Multistage pumps exhibit a positive displacement effect because the number of impellers can be increased to deliver a consistent flow rate even against varying discharge pressures.

Complex Design: The multiple stages and intricate construction make multistage pumps more complex to manufacture and maintain compared to single-stage centrifugal pumps.

Differences Between Centrifugal Pumps and Multistage Pumps

There are several differences between the centrifugal pumps and multistage pumps.

Pressure Capability: The primary and most significant difference between centrifugal pumps and multistage pumps is their pressure capability. Centrifugal pumps are better suited for low to medium-pressure applications, while multistage pumps are designed for high-pressure applications.

Efficiency: Multistage pumps are generally more energy-efficient when dealing with high-pressure requirements. They achieve this by dividing the work into multiple stages, reducing the energy losses in a single stage.

Complexity: Centrifugal pumps are simpler in design and easier to manufacture, maintain, and repair. In contrast, multistage pumps are more complex due to their multiple stages and additional components.

Flow Rate Control: Centrifugal pumps offer variable flow rates based on the system's resistance, which can be adjusted using throttling valves. Multistage pumps provide a more consistent flow rate, making them suitable for applications requiring a steady supply.

Applications: Centrifugal pumps are commonly used in applications such as water circulation, wastewater transport, and HVAC systems, where high pressure is not a primary requirement. Multistage pumps find applications in industries like power generation, high-rise buildings, and oil refineries, where high-pressure fluid transfer is crucial.


In summary, the choice between a centrifugal pump and a multistage pump depends on the specific requirements of the application. Centrifugal pumps are favored for their simplicity and versatility, making them suitable for a wide range of low to medium-pressure applications.

On the other hand, multistage pumps excel in delivering high-pressure fluid for applications where maintaining energy efficiency and pressure consistency is essential.