A question that comes up frequently is how to decide between exhaust bellows vs flex hose for industrial applications. Both are a type of flexible hose, and for applications requiring range of motion without leakage or breaking, both metal bellows and exhaust flex pipe can sometimes do a job, depending on the situation. Multi-ply bellows with metal expansion joints can also be pricier than flex pipe or hose, and this can make the one seem preferable to the other. Understanding whether to use exhaust bellows vs flex pipe requires knowing more about their strengths and weaknesses.
When considering exhaust bellows vs flex pipe it’s important to know that only exhaust bellows are capable of both absorbing thermal expansion in the piping and also isolating engine vibration at the same time. One important reason for this is that bellows are frequently made to the exact specifications needed for any job, both in terms of design and material. Flex hose is typically mass produced on automated equipment. Some of the best manufacturers can make metal hose that works well and is of good quality, but it’s still never going to perform like the metal expansion joints on exhaust bellows. Even worse, poor welding on the cheapest of these hoses can easily result in weld undercut that will eventually cause the hose to fail, often catastrophically.
Flex Hose Use
Flex hose is economical and can be used without problems in certain applications, such as on a standby generator. It is crucial to source flex hose from a reliable manufacturer with the experience to ensure there are no weld undercuts. When there are no space issues or worries about predictable cycle life, flex hose can be a viable option.
Single-Ply Exhaust Bellows
This type of bellows typically ensures a good cycle life and has low spring rates. When there is limited space to work with, single-ply bellows can work well, providing a shorter length than flex hose needs and moving the heat zone away from the first bend.
Whenever very tall convolutions are needed, or maximum possible cycle life combined with the lowest possible spring rates, multi-ply bellows are the correct choice. The many layers of metal provide extra vibration dampening while movement capability is enhanced.
For the most important applications, there is really no question about exhaust bellows vs flex hose. Metal bellows have a longer lifespan, can absorb vibration while enduring thermal expansion, and less space, and are precisely made from alloys or metals according to specific situational requirements. These details make it easy to know when you need exhaust bellows vs flex hose.
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