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Pumps - Head vs. Pressure

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Pumps characteristic curves are often in head - feet or metres - and a conversion to pressure scales commonly used in pressure gauges - like psi or bar - may be required.

Converting Head to Pressure

Converting head in feet to pressure in psi

Pumps characteristic curves in feet of head can be converted to pressure - psi - by the expression:

p = 0.433 h SG                            (1)


p = pressure (psi)

h = head (ft)

SG = specific gravity of the fluid

Converting head in metre to pressure in bar

Pumps characteristic curves in metre of head can be converted to pressure - bar - by the expression:

p = 0.0981 h SG                          (2)


h = head (m)

p = pressure (bar)

Converting head in metre to pressure in kg/cm2

Pumps characteristic curves in metre of head can be converted to pressure - kg/cm2 - by the expression:

p = 0.1 h SG                          (2b)


h = head (m)

p = pressure (kg/cm2)

Converting Pressure to Head

Since pressure gauges often are calibrated in pressure - psi or bar - a conversion to the heads commonly used in pump curves - like feet or meter - may be required.

Converting pressure in psi to head in feet

h = 2.31 p / SG                          (3)


h = head (ft)

p = pressure (psi)

Converting pressure in bar to head in metre

h = p 10.197 / SG                          (4)


h = head (m)

p = pressure (bar)

Converting pressure in kg/cm2 to head in metre

h = p 10 / SG                           (4b)


h = head (m)

p = pressure (kg/cm2)

Example - Converting Pump Head - feet - to Pressure - psi

The pressure - psi - of a water pump operating with head 120 ft can be calculated with eq. 1 as:

p = 0.433 (120 ft) (1)

    = 52 psi

Example - Converting Pressure - psi - to Pump Head - feet

The head in feet water column can be calculated from pressure 100 psi with eq. 3 as:

h = 2.31 (100 psi) / (1)
   = 231 ft

Where specific gravity of water = 1.

Feet of Head Water to psi

Pumps - Water Head vs. Pressure


1 0.43
2 0.87
3 1.30
4 1.73
5 2.17
6 2.60
7 3.03
8 3.46
9 3.90
10 4.33
20 8.66
30 13.0
40 17.3
50 21.7
60 26.0
70 30.3
80 34.7
90 39.0
100 43.3
120 52.0
140 60.6
160 69.3
180 78.0
200 86.6
250 108
300 130
350 152
400 173
500 217
600 260
700 303
800 346
900 390
1000 433
  • water at 62°F (17°C)

Download pressure vs head imperial units as pdf file

Download water pressure vs head - SI units as pdf file

Head vs. Pressure when handling Liquids of different Density

Head vs. Pressure - Liquids of different Density
LiquidSpecific GravityHead
Water 1.0 100 43.3
Kerosene 0.8 100 36.6
Sulphuric Acid 1.8 100 77.9

Identical pumps will develop the same head when running at the same speed but the discharge pressure is quite different due to the different densities of the liquids. It can be simpler to discuss the performance pumps in terms of head rather than pressure since the use of head makes the pump curve applicable to any liquid regardless of density.

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