AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

What Is the Difference Between Directional Control Valves and Proportional Valves?

Directional control valves and proportional valves are two essential components in hydraulic and pneumatic systems, each serving distinct functions and offering unique advantages. Understanding the differences between these two types of valves is crucial for designing and operating fluid control systems efficiently and effectively, so in this blog, we will discuss both briefly.

Directional control valves, as the name suggests, are primarily used to control the direction of fluid flow within a system. These valves are commonly employed in applications where fluid needs to be directed to various actuators, such as cylinders or motors, to perform specific tasks. Directional control valves typically have multiple ports and can be configured to allow fluid flow in different directions, depending on the desired operation.

One of the most common types of directional control valves is the spool valve, which consists of a movable cylindrical or rectangular element within a housing with multiple ports. By shifting the position of the spool, fluid flow paths are opened or closed, allowing for precise control over the direction of fluid movement in hydraulic or pneumatic systems.

On the other hand, proportional valves are designed to regulate the flow rate or pressure of fluid within a system in proportion to a control signal. These valves offer finer control over the flow of fluid compared to directional control valves by employing sophisticated electronic or mechanical control mechanisms to modulate flow rate or pressure, making them ideal for applications where precise and variable control is required. Proportional valves are often used in systems where speed, force, or position control are critical, such as in industrial automation, aerospace, and automotive applications.

To illustrate the difference between directional control valves and proportional valves, let us consider an aircraft's flight control system as an example. Directional control valves are responsible for routing hydraulic fluid to actuate the various components of the aircraft's tail empennages, such as the elevators, rudder, and horizontal stabilizer. These valves ensure that the pilot's input from the cockpit controls is translated into the desired movements of the tail assembly, allowing the aircraft to maneuver and maintain stability during flight.

In contrast, proportional valves may be used in the aircraft's engine control system to regulate the flow of fuel or hydraulic fluid to the jet engines. These valves enable precise control over the engine's thrust output, allowing the pilot or automated flight control system to smoothly adjust the aircraft's speed and altitude. Additionally, proportional valves may also be employed in the aircraft's hydraulic systems to regulate the flow of fluid to various components, such as landing gear actuators or flight control surfaces, providing precise control over these critical systems.

In summary, both types of valves play essential roles in fluid control systems, with directional control valves providing basic flow direction control and proportional valves offering finer and more precise control over flow rates and pressures. If you are in the market for any variety of aircraft hardware, we invite you to explore our selection of over 2 billion components on Integrated AOG. Our search engine and filters allow you to instantly narrow down parts of need, while our curated catalogs let you peruse through related parts. Moreover, be sure to request quotes on any components of interest with our online RFQ service, where you can receive tailored quotes from our experts in 15 minutes or less. We always aim to supply competitive pricing and swift lead times on our entire inventory of high-caliber parts, and we are happy to accommodate any unique requirements or restrictions. To see how we can serve as your dependable sourcing platform, start exploring our database or get in touch with a representative by form, phone, or email.



Semiconductor's Certifications and Memberships
The only independent
distributor with a
  • All Orders are fulfilled in the U.S.A.
  • All shipments must comply with U.S.A export laws.
  • No exceptions.

“We Proudly Support Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund that serves United States Military Personal experiencing the Invisible Wounds of War : Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). Please visit website ( and help in their valiant effort”.

Thank You for Visiting.

We Hope that You Will Visit Us Again the Next Time You Need NSN Parts and Make Us Your Strategic Purchasing Partner.

Request for Quote

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.