Proposed features/Pipeline valves proposal

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The Feature Page for this approved proposal is located at Tag:pipeline=valve.
Penstock valve.jpg
Pipeline valves proposal
Status: Approved (active)
Proposed by: fanfouer
Tagging: pipeline=*
Applies to: node
Definition: Propose to improve pipeline valves mapping and description with valve=*
Drafted on: 2017-12-19
RFC start: 2018-11-15
Vote start: 2018-12-16
Vote end: 2019-01-15


Valves are important devices to regulate flows, block liquids or ensure security in piping systems. There are many shapes and functions existing. We can find them in many places, to begin with households or heavy industries.
Knowing their function, to which pipes they are connected to or their figures may be important to describe a more complex system.
Valves are installed on fire or utility hydrants or emergency systems also.

Improving and extending OSM model for valves may bring benefit to several fields of knowledge and may allow to merge some redundant tags.
It will improve knowledge of man made pneumatic and hydraulic systems.


It is proposed to complete the pipeline and waterway valves tagging with the following tags :

There is no point to deprecate any existing tag here.
Valves have been mapped for years in OSM and this current proposal only add tagging details about them.
This proposal focus on tags to use if, and only if, data is available. It does not assume all data can be publicly known but provide a consistent model to add it to the map if possible, without any pipeline operator help.

How to map

Pipeline valve datasheet.jpg

First of all, don't go inside private or restricted perimeters if you're not invited to do so please, some valves may not be safely accessible and you may expose yourself to multiple hazards.
Public information or aerial imagery will help to see outdoor pipeline facilities safely.

On every valve device found and on a man_made=pipeline way (not surrounding building, not fence), add a node and put some tags described below like mandatory pipeline=valve.
Use location=* to give information about its position and valve=* to let us know about its mechanism.

High detailed information may be found on valves themselves. A complete datasheet as exposed beside gives many figures on the device capabilities and structure.
We basically need nominal diameter, valve mechanism but manufacturer=* and start_date=* may also be completed.
Nevertheless, you may not be able to took picture of those plates and as a reminder : don't go inside restricted perimeters to get the one you couldn't unless invited


Key Value Comment Recommendation
pipeline valve Valves are usually mapped as node. This tags says it's a valve mandatory
valve <valve technology> The design of the valve recommended
location <location> The physical location of the valve, such as indoor. See below for possible values. recommended
diameter <nominal diameter> The nominal diameter of the valve in millimeters according to ISO 6708 optional
operator <operator> Name of the company that operates the valve. optional
manufacturer <Manufacturing company> Name of the company that built the valve optional
ref <reference> Abbreviation / number of the valve. optional
turn_to_close clockwise or anti_clockwise Direction of rotation wheel to close the valve. This is common to handle and actuator optional
handle <handle model> Does a handle is available on the valve? See below for possible values optional
actuator <actuator technology> Mode of actuating the valve. See below for possible values optional
sensor:position <position sensor> Position sensor design used to get the valve current status. Not fluid pressure or chemical sensor which may be installed beside the valve optional
remotely_controllable Control mode How the actuator is remotely activated to change the valve state. optional

There is no point to add substance=* tag on the valve regulating pipes. This is a matter for pipelines and not for valves themselves.

Valve designs

A butterfly valve

Valves may have specific design inside a given network to fulfill a function. The design is visible on the ground and doesn't correspond to the usage or function of the valve.

List of possible valve=* values
Key Value Comment
valve butterfly A butterfly valve a quarter-turn valve design and uses a rotating disk to regulate or ensure complete isolation of the flow of a fluid.
globe A globe valve allows flow regulation and involves a movable disk in a static ring. It shouldn't be confused with ball valves.
ball A ball valve is a quarter-turn valve design and uses a rotating perforated ball to regulate or ensure complete isolation of the flow of a fluid. It is designed for high pressure delta between upstream and downstream
plug It's similar to ball valve, with a perforated cylinder rotating quarter-turn.
gate A gate valve is kind of on/off valve and opens by lifting a sluice out of a liquid flow. It doesn't allow flow regulation.
needle A needle or a pointy moving part at least regulate the opening of the fluid duct. It is used to regulate the fluid intake on power hydro turbines for instance
spool A spool valve allows to open and shut several ducts in a single movement. A single moving part is regulating several intakes and the possible configurations are set by design.

Valve actuators

Actuators allow to modify the valve state, eventually open or close it completely with or without human action needed. This key is intended to describe the nominal actuator used to open or close the valve.

List of possible actuator=* values
Key Value Comment
actuator manual The most common actuator : human hands. This is default and implicit.
electric_motor An electric motor is used to change the valve state
pneumatic_cylinder A cylinder powered by pressurised air change the valve state
hydraulic_cylinder A cylinder power by pressurised fluid (mainly oil) change the valve state
thermostatic A mechanical actuator based on the ambient temperature to adapt the valve opening. Often used on domestic heating radiator globe valves
solenoid The movable parts of the valve are moved with the help of electromagnetic force, without contact with any static part

As to prevent additional damages in case of automated actuator failure, manual mode may be always be available beside the nominal actuator.
There is no need to add ';manual' in actuator=* value. Prefere using handle=* to give the design of manual handle available if applicable.

Valve position sensors

Sensors allow operators to remotely get the valve status, eventually opening angle. It is useful to have position sensors beside automated actuators as to not lost the control over regulated networks.
Different technologies exist to get a valve status, among them :

List of applicable sensor=* values
Key Value Comment
sensor:position optical The position of the valve is read by the sensor
mechanical The position of the valve is given by a mechanical finger touching a moving part of the valve when it is completely close or open
inductive The position of the valve is determined by magnetic induction levels of an internal part changing whether the valve is open or closed
yes The position of the valve is watched by a sensor of an unknown technology

It's not unusual to find other sensors installed beside valves as to monitor the fluid itself. This key only covers sensors dedicated to the valve operation. Pressure or chemical sensors should be mapped with a dedicated node if they're not intended to observe to the valve operation.

Handle and turn to close

The most common case for a valve is to be opened or closed by hand. A handle may be visible even in case of automated actuator as to be locally moved in case of failure.
Handles are usually wheels, crosses or levers.
Even if not mandatory, most valves implies a rotation to be operated. It's useful to know the direction of rotation needed to close the valve, whatever the handle can be and even if not a complete round is needed to completely open or close the valve.
Those two tags are proposed to give the handle design and the direction of rotation to close the valve if applicable

List of possible handle=* values
Key Value Comment
handle wheel A wheel, round or broached, is available to operate the valve
cross A cross with 4 or more open arms without wheel around is available to operate the valve
lever A single arm lever is available to operate the valve. This is the preferred handle design for modern domestic use.
button A button unlocks the valve moving part and the upstream pressure makes it open or closed depending on design.
List of possible turn_to_close=* values
Key Value Comment
turn_to_close clockwise The handle should be rotated clockwise around its axis to shut the valve
anti_clockwise The handle should be rotated anti clockwise around its axis to shut the valve

Those two keys aren't intended specifically for valves and may be used in other fields of knowledge in the future (fire hydrants, just in case).

Edition management

Keys to be replaced

No keys are planned to be replaced by this proposal

Affected pages

remotely_controllable=* is part of another draft proposal, and this proposal won't make it approved right now.


Domestic devices

Photo Location Tagging Comments
Thermostatic globe valve


A domestic globe valve installed on heating radiators. The valve opens and close depending on the delta between fluid and ambient temperatures according to spring inside

Water valves

Water valves used in water networks

Photo Location Tagging Comments
Globe valve
The Netherlands


The valve prevent water to get out of a fire fighters riser pipe in a building. This is a typical globe valve
Butterfly valve
France, Toulouse

turn_to_close=anti_clockwise (written on it)

This is a common valve used to regulate pressure in water mains on distribution networks. Switchable wheel allow technicians to open and close the valve so does the electric actuator on top of it.
Ball penstock valve


Hydroelectric power plants usually got valves at top and bottom also of their penstocks carrying water down to turbines. Such a valve is mainly fully opened or fully closed depending of the plant operational status. It is located next to a pelton turbine at the end of the penstock. Here is how a ball valve closes :

Ball valve closing steps.jpg

Quarter-turn butterfly valve


Such a valve use a movable disk to let or prevent water from passing through it. A lever handle and a sensor allow technician to change the valve state
Valve on a fire hydrant

emergency=fire_hydrant fire_hydrant:type=pillar pipeline=valve

A fire hydrant with a globe valve to open or close the 3 outlets

Oil & gas valves

Photo Location Tagging Comments
Gas safety valve


The valve is actually underground and ensure safety of the rising pipeline on the background. Only its head is visible from the ground surface.

Pneumatic and industrial devices

Photo Location Tagging Comments
Needle valve


A closed needle valve designed to regulate the intake of water toward a pelton power turbine. The opening of the needle allows the water to be directed to the turbine with the appropriate power.
Solenoid globe valve


A comon globe valve which state is modified by a solenoid. A manual button allow local operator to unlock the valve in case of solenoid failure. It is provided by Bürkert. Datasheet


Final vote: 13 pros out of 17 votes makes the proposal approved at 76% Curent approval: 16 pros out of 20 votes makes the approval rate at 80%

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{{vote|yes}} --~~~~
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Note: The ~~~~ automatically inserts your name and the current date.

  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --EneaSuper (talk) 09:44, 23 December 2018 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Brian de Ford (talk) 16:47, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. -- Gendy54 (talk) 16:53, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Michalfabik (talk) 17:02, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Nospam2005 (talk) 17:09, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Fanfouer (talk) 18:49, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Renecha (talk) 20:41, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. if the keys are moved to a namespace (valve:handle, valve: actuator, valve:handle,...), I would wholeheartedly agree! So we have major keys for more or less very little items! --Waldhans (talk) 21:31, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
Discussion goes on the Talk page.
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. I vote no for the same reasons of Waldhans. Tags of this kind should be adequately namespaced. It is true that the same "keyword names", like "actuator", can be used in other contexts too, and this is exactly the reason why I think they should be namespaced, to create a valid taxonomy. (BTW, I think the thermostatic valve pictured in "Domestic devices" is a diaphragm valve, not a globe valve.) --smz (talk) 23:23, 16 December 2018 (UTC)
Discussion goes on the Talk page.
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. After having read the discussion on the talk page, I am not convinced by the arguments from the opposers --Severin (talk) 11:02, 17 December 2018 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Dr Centerline (talk) 16:26, 22 December 2018 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. handles, actuators etc may have uses for things other than valves. So namespace may not be appropriate. Warin61 (talk) 23:22, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Fizzie41 (talk) 20:08, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --HillWithSmallFields (talk) 20:27, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I abstain from voting but have comments I have comments but abstain from voting on this proposal. I'm in a somewhat difficult position. The newly introduced keys and values look ok. My problem is the usage of pipeline=valve on some of the smaller examples, especially the domestic devices. Unfortunately I checked your proposal right at the start of the RFC-phase when there were none of those and I also didn't notice the short mention of domestic devices in your mail on the tagging list. My issue is with the term pipeline: pipelines are generally considered to be longer distance, see f.e. on Wikipedia. But some of your examples are, in my opinion, outside of this scope. So with regards to the fire hdrant I'd simply remove pipeline=valve, I don't think that it's needed here anyway. With domestic devices like radiators, you would probably have to invent a new tag like indoor=radiator or similar and put the information about the valve on that object, again without pipeline=valve.
Another small point, that I just noticed today: I think it's a little unfortunate, that you didn't mention the fact, that valve=* is already used with a somewhat different meaning. It probably would have been nice to find a way to incorporate the attribute covered by current usage into this proposal. --TOGA (talk) 04:58, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. Benoît Prieur (talk) 06:38, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I abstain from voting but have comments I have comments but abstain from voting on this proposal. Comprehensive concept! Excellent presentation! In some details it exceeds the demands of OSM. --Schröcker (talk) 21:51, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --AlexModesto73 (talk) 21:33, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --atabaraud (talk) 23:09, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Rdesgrange (talk) 13:25, 17 January 2019 (UTC)