Auto Service World
News   December 6, 2023   by Auto Service World Staff

PP-R vs PVC Pipes: Which Is the Best Choice

PP-R and PVC pipes are commonly used in the plumbing and construction industry. Both are thermoplastic polymers with unique features. So, understanding the difference is vital. Here’s everything you need to know.

What Are PP-R Pipes?

PP-R stands for Polypropylene Random Copolymer. It’s made by blending polypropylene with ethylene copolymers. PP-R pipes can withstand extreme temperatures (-20°C to 95°C). Thus, they are essential to modern plumbing, especially for HVAC systems. PP-R pipes from Polymelt resemble steel but are lighter and easier to install. Compared to other metallic options, one can install more PP-R pipes in a day.

Polypropylene is a synthetic resin made from the polymerization of propylene monomers. Hence, it has incredible chemical resistance, high melting point, and longevity. That’s why PP-R pipes are ideal for plumbing, textile, construction, and automotive engineering. Besides, PP-R is resistant to corrosion, acids, moisture, and bases. It’s also non-toxic and recyclable, which makes it an environment-friendly option.

What Are PVC Pipes?

Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC, ranks high on durability as a versatile thermoplastic polymer. It has excellent electrical insulation and is flame-resistant. PVC pipes are denser than PP-R pipes and thus offer better structural support. Above everything, PVC pipes are widely available. Thus, they are a first choice for many electrical, construction, and plumbing projects. 

One significant concern with PVC pipes remains their production and disposal process. When produced or discarded, PVC releases harmful chlorine gas. That’s why manufacturers prefer working with recycled PVC.

PP-R vs PVC Pipes: A Head-to-Head Comparison

PP-R and PVC pipes are both excellent options. Yet, they have significant differences that make one superior to the other. Let’s explore the key parameters.  

  • Flexibility: Pipes often require bending, especially in structural applications. Here, PP-R pipes are better suited than PVC. Besides, the inner surface of PP-R pipes plays an important role. It’s smooth and has a low friction coefficient, which helps reduce pressure loss during fluid transport and distribution. Thus, it is an energy-efficient option. PP-R pipes are also immune to scaling and flaking compared to traditional metal pipes.
  • Chemical and temperature resistance: PP-R and PVC pipes promise excellent chemical resistance. However, PP-R works better against certain solvents (including acids and bases). PVC, in comparison, is susceptible to certain chemicals, like MEK and acetone. Also, PP-R pipes have a higher melting point.

    PPR is uniquely inert towards most electrolytes. Thus, it is a safe choice when working with varying temperatures, like heating and cooling systems. It is also helpful in situations with high water salinity, like swimming pools using seawater. PP-R pipes are also pressure-tested for both heat and cold. It can easily sustain a water pressure over 100 psi, a standard requirement for residential plumbing plans.
  • Bonding: PVC pipes can be quickly joined using standard adhesives. PVC itself acts as a bonding agent for many solvents. In contrast, joining polypropylene requires welding. However, the low weight of PP-R pipes is an advantage. It makes them easy to handle and transport. The installation, too, doesn’t require heavy manual labor or high energy consumption. With an easy cut-and-join feature, it’s an economically sustainable option.
  • Affordability: PP-R pipes cost less than PVC pipes, making them a universal industry choice. This is particularly helpful when designing a plumbing plan that demands bulk purchases.
  • Strength and longevity: Polypropylene is both rigid and flexible. Thus, it can be stretched and deformed without breaking. Natural PVC, however, is brittle and hard without plasticizers. 
  • Health hazard: PP-R has a higher melting point compared to PVC. Thus, it burns with difficulty and releases less harmful carbon. PVC pipes, when burned, release dangerous fumes that include hydrogen chloride, which can kill people.

The Bottom Line 

As you can see, both PP-R and PVC pipes have distinct features. So, when it comes to selection, it boils down to specific requirements. For manufacturers, weighing the needs against the availability of materials is important. Both PP-R and PVC rank high on durability and chemical resistance. However, PP-R has the upper hand on cost, longevity, and environmental friendliness.