Difference between vane pumps and piston pumps


Pumps are fundamental mechanical devices in many industries and households, as they are used to transfer fluids from one place to another. Among the various types of pumps that exist, piston pumps and vane pumps are two of the most common and versatile. These pumps are used in a wide range of applications because of their ability to handle fluids with different characteristics and their efficiency.

With this article, we at Hawk will give an overview of the main differences between these two types of pumps. Before proceeding, however, it is necessary to give a brief overview of how they both work.

What are vane pumps?

Vane pumps are a type of positive displacement pump that uses sliding vanes within a rotor to transfer fluids. These pumps consist of a rotor mounted eccentrically inside a cavity and fitted with vanes that extend and retract based on the rotation of the rotor. As the rotor rotates, the vanes create chambers of varying volume within which fluid is trapped and transported from the inlet to the outlet of the pump.

Vane pumps are valued for their ability to maintain a constant and uniform flow, as well as their ability to handle fluids of varying viscosity. They are often used in applications such as lubrication, fuel and oil transfer, and in hydraulic systems.

What are piston pumps?

Piston pumps, on the other hand, are a type of positive displacement pump that uses pistons to move fluid. These pumps consist of one or more cylinders containing pistons that move back and forth, creating a pressure difference that draws in and pushes fluid through the pump. There are various types of piston pumps, including axial and radial piston pumps, each with specific construction and operating characteristics.

Piston pumps are known for their high efficiency and ability to generate high pressures, making them ideal for applications requiring precision and power, such as in industrial hydraulic systems, construction machinery, and fuel injection applications.

The main differences between vane pumps and piston pumps

The main differences between vane pumps and piston pumps lie in their design, operation, efficiency, and applications.

Design and operation

Vane pumps use a vane rotor that can create chambers of variable volume to transport fluid. This simple design allows for compact construction and quiet operation. On the other hand, piston pumps use pistons that move back and forth inside cylinders, a mechanism that requires more complex construction but offers greater pressure handling capability.


In terms of efficiency, piston pumps are generally superior to vane pumps, especially when it comes to generating high pressures. Piston pumps can achieve very high pressures with superior energy efficiency, making them ideal for heavy industrial applications. While vane pumps are less efficient at high pressures, they offer a more uniform and consistent flow, which is advantageous in applications where continuous and uniform lubrication is required.

Maintenance and durability

Piston pumps, because of their more complex construction and the high pressures they handle, may require more frequent maintenance than vane pumps. However, the lifespan of piston pumps can be very long if maintained properly. Vane pumps, with their simpler design and fewer moving components, tend to have easier and less expensive maintenance.


Piston pumps are ideal for applications requiring high pressure and precision, such as in industrial hydraulic systems, construction machinery and fuel injection systems. Vane pumps, on the other hand, are preferred in applications requiring constant and uniform flow, such as in lubrication systems, low pressure fluid transfers and air conditioning systems.

Conclusions and the role of Hawk

In conclusion, piston pumps are generally better than vane pumps when it comes to generating high pressures and ensuring high energy efficiency. Although vane pumps are ideal in all applications that require a constant and uniform flow, piston pumps excel in industrial applications that require precision, power and durability.

In this context, we at Hawk specialise in the production of piston pumps for water, offering high quality solutions to meet the most diverse requirements. Contact us now for more information!

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