July 19, 2024

Reinhard Woltman was the inventor of the first turbine flowmeter, back in 1790. This idea was born from a need to measure water flow velocity in open channels. There have been many technological advances since the invention of the turbine flowmeter. But, the original design has not changed and it is still the preferred flowmeter for large water flows. It is also called the Woltman flowmeter.

Later technological advances have led to the creation of eight different types turbine flow meters. Some flowmeters have been named for the type of water wheel they are attached to, others after the technology. These are all the types of turbine flow meters currently used.

Pelton Wheel

Pelton wheels were modeled after the original Pelton, which was used for turning turbines using flowing waters. The wheel begins to rotate when liquid or water touches the buckets. Pelton wheel turbine fluxmeter, which uses the same setup but is smaller in frame, measures the flow of low viscosity liquids moving at slow rates.

Paddle Wheel

Paddle Wheel flow meters follow the same design principles as a waterwheel. These flowmeters are equipped with shafts that are aligned to the flow stream. The shafts attach to a lightweight paddle wheel which turns with the flow. The liquid flow speed is proportional to the speed of the paddle wheels. For low-speed flows, paddle wheels flow meters are more efficient.


Propeller flowmeters are built on the propeller turbine principle. This principle is used to produce hydroelectric electricity. Forrest Nagler, in 1916, invented the propeller turbine. It has three to six blades. The propeller blades are fixed, and they rotate around a central pivot. Propeller flowmeters are more resistant to debris damage because there are fewer blades. They are also very inexpensive and do not require electricity to measure flow rates.


Woltman flow meters were among the first to be invented. They continue to be widely used in municipal water applications and industrial water applications for measuring flow rates large volumes of water. They are highly accurate because their axis follows the flow direction.

Single Jet

A single-jet flowmeter is made up of a pair of blades that are directly placed in the direction of a stream or a jet of water inside a pipe. An orifice creates the stream. These meters are mostly used to bill residential and commercial water supply companies.


Multi-jet flowmeters use the same principle as Single Jet flowmeters. They direct water through multiple orifices onto their blades so that they rotate around a central center axis. Multi-jet water meters also serve to bill water supply for commercial and residential customers.


A compound flowmeter is a combination of a regular turbine meter and a negative displacement meter. It has both a turbine component and a positively displacement component. When flow rate is high it is measured by the turbine’s speed. Low flow rates are measured by the displacement component. These hybrid meters are used to measure water flow in apartment buildings with varying flow rates throughout the day and at night. More info: www.silverinstruments.com


Axial flowmeters feature a turbine-rotor or turbine that rotates about the axis flow. These meters are used for measuring flow of petroleum products and industrial liquids. Axial flowmeters can have different designs depending on the substance.

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