There are continuous debates as to which pipe is the best to work with for what type project.
HDPE vs PVC
The following is an effort to compare the advantages and disadvantages to using HDPE versus PVC pipe. Every effort will be made to be impartial on the pro’s and con’s. HDPE pipe has been the material of choice for trenchless installation practices almost since the technology first appeared in the mid-to late 1960s.
PVC is a fairly durable vinyl polymer while HDPE is a thermoplastic made from petroleum. They are both considered plastics. When comparing failure ratings, PVC has shown to be higher than HDPE. PVC has a rating of one in 48,650 events compared to HPDE with one in 10,000,000. These failure events included rain stress, wind, heat or cold. HDPE is known to be more durable in these events. PVC is shown to be more useful in one-time projects.
When joining PVC, gasket or gluing sealant must be used. It can also be joined underwater while HDPE cannot. HDPE is joined by heat fusion (see our Push/Lock Couplings). However, HDPE is able to withstand and dampen more shock waves than PVC.
When covering fiber builds, HDPE works best for many reasons.
HDPE can handle season stress (heat and cold). – Low temperature impact
HDPE can withstand 20 years or more of the sun’s UV rays, while PVC may not last three years.
HDPE is more resistant to salt, sand, dust, and corrosive materials.
HDPE can be installed in the following ways:
- Open trench
- Directional bore
- Horizontal bore
- Drop burial
PVC can be installed in the following ways:
Which one’s better, PVC or HDPE?
When looking for a more suitable pipe for lower pressure, HDPE is more efficient. HDPE is softer and more bendable and has a tight bending radius.
However, HDPE is a strong choice for both pressure and non-pressure piping application. HDPE is known for its flexibility, chemical stability, and high strength-to-density ratio. HDPE offers a leak-free system via heat fusion joints. While PVC is stronger and stiffer material, it makes it suitable for direct burial and trenchless installation.
The stiffness of PVC pipe allows their direct connection to mechanical valves, non-plastic fittings and various other water and wastewater connections. One of the biggest issues with mechanically joined traditional pipes (PVC) is the high incidence of background leakage.
This is water that leaks out of the pipe through pipe joints. It is estimated that in the United States, about 14% of drinking water is lost each day due to background leakage! This represents more than 12 million gallons of water a year in a city of 100,000. HDPE pipes, and their fittings and connections, offer a distinct advantage in that they can be used to create leak-free joints that can prevent this issue.