Shielded vs Sealed Bearings: Everything You Need To Know About Them

What is the difference between Shielded and Sealed Bearings?

Several components can elevate the performance of the bearing and can prolong its life.

Bearing is a machine component that can stop relative motion and is used initially to reduce friction between movable parts of a machine to make desirable speed possible—bearing work to reduce friction by either making no contact or by simply greasing. Also, it tends to support different parts of a machine. 

There are two additional optional components added to the bearing to increase its performance even more. These are shields and seals.

Both works for the same purpose, and they have their pros and cons as well. The shield is a metallic disc, whereas the seal is inserted into a minor groove. Check Solvent For Cleaning Bearings.

How To Clean Sealed Bearings

What are shielded bearings?

what is a shielded bearing

Shielded bearings are designed to prevent sizable particles from passing into the bearing. It helps to keep the grease in the bearing.

Shields are no point of contact between the bearing inner ring and the shield bore. Metallic shields are considered the most common and inexpensive type of bearing. 

They act as lubricants at rolling elements; friction is reduced, preventing energy loss. Also, during operation, rolling elements are protected from large contaminants.

However, they are not as perfect as they seem. The removal of the shield is impossible. Thus relubrication is not possible. Also, excessive pressure can force guards against the cage. 

What are sealed bearings?

shielded ball bearing

A sealed bearing is the one that is self-enclosed or, as a separate unit, may be called an enclosed unit. They are enclosed in cartridge shields. So, they can be plucked in and out quickly. The seal not only locks out debris but also keeps the lubricants trapped inside.

With the help of a sealed bearing, the bearing is moisturized with grease, and the approach gives additional protection. It means that less oil is spilt.

Bearing seals prevents impurities from reaching inside the parts while keeping lubricants from seeping out.

It doesn’t require regular maintenance. They are protected against external environmental contaminants, easy to handle, and are space-saving.

Also, they are environmentally friendly as oil spilt is considerably less. On the contrary, everything comes with pros and cons. The disadvantage of sealed bearing is that it can melt at higher temperatures as it is made of plastic and rubber. 

What is the difference between shielded and sealed bearings?

sealed vs unsealed bearing

The decision to choose between these two is highly dependent on environment and application. Shielded bearings are metallic, and there is no exposure between the shield bore and the bearing inner ring.

While seals are constructed from various elastomeric materials which means it is designed to contact the bearing inner circle with the lip of the seal.

Both are non-contact seals, and shields permit reduced rotational torque as there is no contact to the inner ring. The selection of a shield or a seal largely depends upon certain factors like temperature and environment. 

what are better sealed or shielded bearings

sealed bearings vs non sealed

Sealed bearings can be contact or non-contact. Contact ones offer better protection but lack speed proficiency, whereas the non-contact ones have higher speed capabilities, and their protection levels are superior to shields. However, as the speed of a sealed bearing increases, its speed capacity decreases.

On the other hand, shield bearings have no contact with the inner ring. Consequently, they have low torque qualities.

They are more vigorous in resisting damage from solid airborne pollutants – small flying stones, for example. In conclusion, sealed bearings are better as it requires less maintenance and is overall better.

Double-sealed bearings

double shielded bearing

Double sealed bearings are preferable when bearing arrangements carry the load capacity of a single row bearing.

For the same bore and outside diameter with single bearing, they have a wider diameter inside than single bearing in 62 and 63 series.

They have a relatively higher capacity to carry the load. However, double bearings are available as an open bearing. 

metal shielded bearings vs rubber

Metal shielded bearing offers less resistance than rubber bearings, but it allows more dirt in. Rubber seals better, so it can protect better against dirt, but it provides more resistance by making more contact.

So a better way to decide to choose between them is to determine where you use the bearing and where you are driving. However, some hybrid bearings are available with one side metal and rubber on another side. 

sealed bearing vs ball bearing

A sealed bearing is protected from debris and weather. So, they spin cleaner and offer significantly less friction due to less contact.

Ball-bearing uses grease and provides better replacement bearing, but they have significantly less contact with roads and tend to have lower load capacity. 

sealed bearings vs greasable bearings

sealed vs greasable bearings

Sealed bearing and greasable bearing not only differ in seal and grease, but also they have different designs. Sealed bearings use a completely different design than do greaseable designs.

The reason behind this is that their priority is to protect against contamination by stopping contaminants from entering. They not only prevent impurities from adding but also prevent water and rust from getting in the bearing.

Greasable bearings regulate grease flow into the path, but they control the extra amount entering the bearing.

However, it is safe to say that sealed bearings are better than greasable bearings as they come pre-greased from the factory by 25-35%, which prevents the need to do the frequent greasing. 

ZZ vs 2rs bearing

There are two types of bearing closures. They can either be shields or seals. These two are essential parts of deep groove bearings. Their primary purpose is to safeguard and prolong bearing life.

They do so by inhibiting contaminants or impurities from reaching internal regions. Also, it holds on lubrication hence, preventing friction. 

Bearing closures come in two most common types, ZZ and 2rs. Zz is a non-contact and non removable bearing closure having a metal seal on either side.

As they do not contact the inner ring, thus they make no compromise on the speed of operation. 2rs is bearing having moulded rubber seal on either side.

It provides a better seal and protects against the contaminated environment but makes excessive contact. Therefore, it increases friction. 

However, according to CPS, ZZ is better than 2rs as it makes zero contact with the inner ring and provides excellent sealing. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are sealed bearings waterproof?

Yes, sealed bearings are waterproof and dustproof. They guarantee a longer bearing life when revealed to heavy airborne dust and splashes out water. So they are suitable to be used underwater. 

Do shielded bearings require lubrication?

They need to have lapsed per the manufacturer’s instructions, but double shielded bearings are lifetime lubricated and don’t require such lapsing.

Can you lubricate sealed bearings?

Sealed bearings are generally used for lower speed machines,75 hp and have a predicted life span of about three years.

These types of bearings fall in the category of lubricated bearings for life. They do not require lubrication because their lubrication level is longer than the expected life of the bearing. 

What does ZZ mean on a bearing?

ZZ means non-removable, non-contact bearing closure along with a metal seal on both sides. It has metallic shields on both sides.

With ZZ bearings, bearings can work for a lifetime because it protects them from dust and outside pollutants to go inside the path.

What happens when you over grease a bearing?

do you grease shielded bearings

Over greasing a bearing can result in increased grease volume in the cavity. It can cause the rotating bearing elements to begin agitating the grease, pushing it out of the way, which further causes energy loss and rising temperatures.


Until now, we have come to know enough about sealed bearings and shield bearings.

Now a question arises which is the best bearing? Sealed or shield? In this ongoing debate, there are several factors that we have discussed above. You must know what it is that you are aiming at.

Sealed is not only better for speed but also protects your car against contaminants, though it is risky operating at high temperature; shield, on the other hand, can withstand the high temperature of even 250°F.

Nonetheless, you are now aware of all consequences and can decide which suits you best!

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