Understanding Pipes and Fluids in Satisfactory Update 3

Understanding Pipes and Fluids in Satisfactory Update 3

Mar 16 Masonzero  

Fluids are a new addition to Satisfactory in update 3. Pipes are finally in the game and instead of just knowing how to balance belts, we need to understand how fluids work! Today we’re going to go into how to use pipes, and some tips about fluids.

How Pipes Differ From Belts

Belts are easy. Each tier has a maximum amount that it can transport per minute, and you can tell how much is on it based on all of the machines that feed into it.

On the other hand, pipes are complex enough that you can actually go into a menu on each length of pipe, and find out how much is flowing per minute.

Currently, only one tier of pipe exists, and it can move 300 units of fluid per minute. While belts can instantly move their maximum amount if they are supplied with it, pipes have to fill up in order to reach that amount.

Imagine pouring water into a large tub. The more water you add at one end, the farther the water will spread, until it reaches the far end of the tub. But if you don’t have enough water, it will only make a puddle at one end, and not spread to the rest of the tub. Pipes work in a similar fashion. For a pipe to move its maximum amount of fluid, the pipe before it needs to be full. If a pipe is moving 300 units per minute, it will be completely full.

Splitters Don’t Work the Same

In Satisfactory, splitters split items evenly. If three belts come out of a splitter, every third item will go to each belt. Pipe junctions work a bit differently. They don’t split fluids evenly, in every case.

Specifically, pipes work off of gravity. It is easier to move something down rather than horizontal or up. So if you have a junction aiming down, all of that liquid is going to go down into the junction until that route is full. You can say goodbye to anywhere that liquid needed to go beyond that junction.

Using Fluid Buffers

Storage containers have been used as buffers in production lines ever since the beginnings. It’s a great way to produce more of something than you are using. This is great in case you need to handcraft or need extra materials for building something.

With the addition of pipes, we now have fluid buffers! These, however, work differently than storage containers. Storage buffers have an input, and an output. But since pipes don’t care about the flow direction, unlike belts, fluid buffers don’t actually have an input and an output. They have two holes, but it doesn’t matter where the fluid is going.

You may be tempted to put a fluid buffer on a pipe so that extra fluid sits in the middle of the pipeline. But that’s not the only place you can put it. You can actually put it on the end of a line (or really jutting off anywhere from a line) and it will fill with excess liquid that is in the pipe. And here’s the kicker: when the pipe is emptying and is no longer supplying the fluid buffer, the fluid buffer will change its flow direction and start filling the pipe with its excess.

Pipe Math

Balancing pipes is similar to balancing belts, but not entirely.

If you have a pipe supplying a line of coal generators, and you’re just splitting off water from that pipe, your machines at the end of the line won’t get enough water.

Assuming you’re running your coal generators at 100%, you will be using 45 water per minute, per machine. Meanwhile, a pipe can only move 300 water per minute. For those of you following along at home, that’s 6 coal generators off of one pipe. Well actually, 6.66 repeating. The math isn’t even good!

And it gets worse. A water extractor can output 120 water per minute, which does not go evenly into 300. So you’ll need three water extractors working at lower than 100% efficiency in order to supply six coal generators.

However, with some simple tweaking, you can use the same amount of water extractors to supply eight coal generators. How is this possible? Eight coal generators would required 360 water per minute which is more than a pipe can handle!

To do this, you build three water extractors, but use two sets of pipes. Combine two of the water extractors with a pipe, so it’s moving 240 water per minute. Then hook up a pipe to the other extractor so that it’s moving 120 per minute. There is the 360 water that you need. Build a pipe that splits off to supply your eight coal generators and hook up the 240 pipe to it. Then bring in the 120 pipe to combine with it the same junction that your fourth coal generator is on.

At this point, the first three generators are using 135 water, so there is plenty of room for the remaining 105 to combine with the incoming 120. Then the remainder of the pipe will supply the fourth through eighth coal generator. (You can see this illustrated in the image above, which shows the top pipe feeding into the bottom pipe at the fourth coal generator.)

Since water is limited in most parts of the map (except the ocean that borders the desert), it is important to be as efficient as possible with water and water extractors.

How Do Pipeline Pumps Work?

Pumps are a bit confusing. The one clear thing is that you need one to carry water over 10m vertical. A pipeline pump allows for a 20m rise. Pressure does not accumulate – you can’t put two pumps next to each other and expect double pressure. Instead, you need to space out pumps about every 20m to make the best use of them.

But what about horizontal? Do you need pumps for horizontal movement, or will the fluid fill up the pipes eventually? Fluids can move horizontally for a long time, 450 meters in fact. But to move beyond that there needs to be a pipeline pump. Since platforms are 8 meters wide, you will need a pump roughly every 56 platforms.


About Masonzero

Mason has years of experience writing for blogs on a variety of topics. Now he is excited to highlight the awesome things you can do in Satisfactory. He hails from Portland, Oregon and loves gaming with his wife and petting their cat, Henry. He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Hahn Ackles
    Mar 17, 2020 @ 14:20 pm

    Oh! That bit about splitters means that unlike with conveyors, you can make a proper overflow setup!

    Just have a pipe that goes straight down before heading to where you need the water, and then split off the top of that pipe. The top split will only get used if the downwards pipe overflows.


    • Masonzero
      Mar 26, 2020 @ 14:30 pm

      Yeah, gravity is truly an amazing thing!

  • Zach
    Apr 20, 2020 @ 1:17 am

    This is EXACTLY the straightforward and basic explanation I was looking for, especially about pumps. Thanks man!

  • Bazeloth
    Dec 27, 2020 @ 8:10 am

    Great article! You should update it with the new vales that have been put in place. You can prevent any liquid flowing back into a pipe if you put it right before a buffer.


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