C&B Equipment’s Guide to Multistage Centrifugal Pumps

Centrifugal pumps are some of the most commonly used industrial pumps in the world. They are used for a wide variety of applications across a number of industries.

However, depending on the task that needs to be accomplished, it may be worth your time and money to invest in a multistage pump over a traditional single-stage centrifugal pump.

So what exactly is the difference between the two?

Single-stage vs. multistage centrifugal pumps

The primary difference between single-stage and multistage centrifugal pumps lies in the number of stages (also referred to as impellers) they have. As the name implies, single-stage pumps have only one impeller, whereas multistage pumps have at least two.


A centrifugal pump’s impeller is what pressurizes and transfers the liquid. Because multistage pumps have multiple impellers, their pressure ranges and flow rates are far superior.

Within a multistage centrifugal pump, each impeller acts like a single-stage pump within a chain of pumps. The advantages of multistage centrifugal pumps stem from this chain-like design.

As the liquid is propelled from one impeller to the next, its pressure increases while the flow rate remains constant.

By relying on multiple impellers to distribute the pressure-building load of the pump, multistage centrifugal pumps can generate greater power and higher pressure with smaller motors, therefore using less energy.

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Industrial applications of multistage centrifugal pumps

Multistage centrifugal pumps are used for a wide variety of industrial applications thanks to their increased efficiency and ability to pump fluids at higher pressures.

  • boiler feed water Pumps feed water into a steam boiler.
  • firefighting Used to pressurize water to help extinguish fires.
  • high-pressure cleaning Creates a powerful stream of water used to clean an object.
  • irrigation Used to pump water throughout an irrigation system.
  • reverse osmosis Used to remove impurities from water.
  • snowmaking Pressurizes water to make snow for use in sports and resorts.
  • water circulation Adds pressure to the system to continuously circulate water.
  • water supply boosting Increases pressure for water usage.

Types of multistage centrifugal pumps

There are two major types of multistage pumps.

  • horizontal multistage centrifugal pumps
  • vertical multistage centrifugal pumps

Horizontal multistage centrifugal pumps

Horizontal pumps are the most common type of multistage centrifugal pump and are consistently used for the aforementioned applications. These types of pumps operate by pressurizing the liquid as it travels horizontally through multiple impellers.

With exception to vertical turbine pumps, horizontal pumps are typically able to handle a higher flow rate than vertical pumps. You can usually identify horizontal multistage centrifugal pumps by their segmented casing.

There are some slight disadvantages to using horizontal pumps over vertical pumps, however. Horizontal pumps are fairly maintenance-intensive, and they require a skilled set of hands to operate them.

Depending on their specifications and the applications they are being used for, horizontal multistage pumps can also be quite expensive, especially when compared to their vertical counterparts.

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Vertical multistage centrifugal pumps

Vertical pump types are not as widely used as horizontal pumps, as their purposes are more limited. Vertical multistage pumps have a vertically-oriented shaft where their impellers are stacked on top of one another.

The clearances in vertical multistage pumps are much smaller than their horizontal cousins making clean-water applications ideal for these types of pumps.

With their clean, compact design, these pumps are perfect for areas that don’t have much room available and can deliver high-pressure liquid transfer with a single pump body and motor combination.

However, a significant disadvantage of vertical pumps is that they can not tolerate debris or solids, and they are also more vulnerable to deadheading.

Deadheading is when you prevent a pump’s ability to discharge by shutting off a valve. This causes water to continuously churn inside the pump and eventually turn into water vapor. Deadheading can cause irreparable damage to centrifugal pumps.

Recommended Read Types of Centrifugal Pumps: Which Is Right for Your Facility?

Centrifugal Pumps from C&B Equipment

C&B Equipment is a renowned distributor of industrial equipment, including centrifugal pumps, diesel engines, and air compressors. We also offer preventative maintenance programs, repair and installation services, and inspections. Let us know how we can assist you!

Take a look at our selection of centrifugal pumps!


Take a look at our repair and preventative maintenance services!

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