What’s the Difference Between HDPE Pipe and PE Pipe?

HDPE and PE pipes both serve similar functions, yet they differ in a few important ways. Here, we look at the differences between HDPE and PE pipe strength, service life, corrosion resistance, and more.

What is HDPE Pipe?

HDPE pipe is a type of plastic pipe that’s used to transfer fluids and gases or to replace ageing concrete or steel mains pipelines. HDPE pipe (which stands for high-density polyethylene pipe) is flexible, highly impermeable, and suitable for high pressure pipelines. Most commonly, HDPE pipe can be seen in use for water mains, gas mains, sewer mains, slurry transfer lines, rural irrigation, fire system supply lines, electrical conduits, communication conduits and drainage pipes.

What Are PE Pipes?

PE pipe (which stands for polyethylene pipe) is a broader term that refers to any thermoplastic pipe made from ethylene gas. PE pipe comes in numerous styles including low-density, cross-linked, ultra-low-molecular-weight, high-molecular-weight, medium-density, ultrahigh molecular weight, chlorinated, and linear low-density.

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The Difference Between HDPE and PE Pipes

HDPE is a type of PE pipe. However, HDPE pipes are more durable than other PE pipes because they come with high melting and impact points. HDPE pipe is tough, resistant to chemicals, resistant to corrosion, and light in weight.

Are HDPE Pipes Stronger than PE Pipes?

When comparing HDPE pipe strength to PE pipe strength, it’s important to consider the material, thickness and quality of the specific PE pipe, since PE pipe comes in a range of styles. Generally, HDPE pipe is considered a highly durable pipe, especially when jointing is considered; HDPE pipe can be joined by butt welding, electrofusion welding, socket welding or extrusion welding. These welds create a homogenous joint that is at least as strong as (if not stronger than) the existing pipe, with no need for rubber seals or jointing chemicals. As a result, HDPE pipe has a longer lifespan and is less likely to be affected by root intrusion.

In addition to durability, HDPE pipe features low thermal conductivity, meaning it can retain the normal operating temperatures despite outside factors. Unlike the ordinary PE pipes, HDPE pipes are rust-resistant and highly reliable. HDPE pipes maintain the initial flow capacity despite the prevailing environmental factors, and little to no maintenance costs are needed to keep them working.

Is HDPE Pipe Resistant to Corrosion?

Unlike other piping systems that corrode over time, HDPE pipe does not rot, rust or corrode. It is resistant to chemicals and biological growth, meaning the pipe has a long service life and saves money on repairs and replacement.

Does HDPE Pipe Have a Long Service Life?

The life expectancy for HDPE pipe can stretch between 50 to 100 years, depending on the application, design and installation. This makes it one of the longest-lasting pipes available.

Does HDPE Pipe Have Leak-Free Joints?

Unlike other popular pipe systems, HDPE pipe can be joined by butt welding, electrofusion welding, socket welding or extrusion welding. These welds create a homogenous joint that is at least as strong as the existing pipe and are virtually leak-free.

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Does HDPE Pipe Include Trenchless Installation?

Most PE piping systems must be installed by digging a ditch, which results in pedestrian, traffic and environmental disruptions. HDPE can be installed using an open-cut method, or through the use of eco-friendly trenchless technology. This technology can also be used to install HDPE pipes under creeks, rivers, lakes and roads with minimal environmental disruptions.

Is HDPE Pipe Eco-Friendly?

HDPE pipe has a smaller environmental impact than most other types of PE pipe. HDPE is lightweight and more cost effective to transport than metal pipes. Due to HDPE flexibility and the use of heat fusion joints, fewer fittings are required. During trenchless installation, smaller pipe can be used which results in less ground disruption. HDPE pipe joints negate harmful leaks, and HDPE does not emit toxins into the air during production or during use. For all of these reasons, HDPE is recognized for its minimal impact on the environment.

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