What You Need to Know About Flume Types

There are a wide variety of flume types to choose from, and the flume that’s best suited for you depends on your situation and the kind of channel you’re dealing with. To make sure you get a flume that can offer the precise flow measurements you need, you’ll need to know about some of the advantages and disadvantages among flume types. Learn everything you need to know about flume types, and discover the most important factors to keep in mind when considering each style.


The Parshall flume is the most commonly used flume that’s been in use for about a century. It’s entirely standardized and comes in a variety of different sizes for near-universal application. Even if flow spills off the end of a Parshall flume, you can still get accurate measurements. As long as the discharge is lower than the inlet, along with several other requirements, the flow can easily be accurately measured. 


If you’re looking for a shorter Parshall-type design, be sure to consider the Montana. It’s set up in a similar hourglass shape, but the discharge and throat sections have been removed. It uses the same equations as the Parshall would for the most part, and it’s best used in situations where you don’t have a lot of room for installation. It’s not nearly as popular, but most of the Parshall’s research can be applied to the Montana as well, so maintenance and accounting for errors is easier.


For flows that deal with a lot of solids and debris, a trapezoidal flume is one of the best options. That’s why it’s so commonly used for measuring irrigation channels. It maintains its accuracy when measuring a wide variety of flows, including low flows. The trapezoidal flume also implements a flat-bottom design, so it’s easy to install in flat grades. 


The Palmer-Bowlus flume is most commonly used among already existing manholes and pipelines. It is very accurate when it comes to average to high flow rates, but low flows will throw off measurements significantly. Keep that disadvantage in mind when installing in lower-flow areas. Additionally, the upstream requirements are significant. 


An RBC flume features a long throat and is most commonly used in ditches and furrows. There are several different sizes, and they’re all suitable for accurate measurements with high submergence transitions. They scale universally among the different sizes, but it’s important to remember that sediment can collect with a raised throat. When that happens, your measurements will be thrown off because the geometry of the flume has changed.


A Cutthroat flume functions primarily like a Parshall flume with a few key differences. With a Cutthroat flume, you’ll have a flat bottom without any extended throat area. The primary functional difference is that the Cutthroat excels at passing solids. Just make sure you keep in mind that the upstream conditions need to be a bit more refined for accurate measurements.

Find a Flume With Tracom

Now that you have what you need to know about flume types, it’s time to get your hands on one that fits your needs. That’s where Tracom can help. We offer a wide variety of flumes to fit any situation. Contact us today to get started on your journey to finding the perfect flume for your needs.