Nitrogen Generators are an exceptional piece of technology for fire sprinkler systems… when installed in the right application. Corrosion science tells us that maintaining pipes with 98% nitrogen can increase the life of your pipes. In black iron pipes, nitrogen can increase the life up to 60 years. In galvanized pipes, nitrogen can increase the life up to 100 years. But is a nitrogen generator the right fit for every dry pipe or pre-action sprinkler system? The answer is no.
Every system is different. The honest answer is that not all sprinkler systems will be best served with a nitrogen generator. More often than not, filling solutions like Compressed Air or Dry Air make more sense. At General Air Products, we just want to see you fit for the right piece of equipment. General Air Products is in the unique position to help you make the best choice - be it compressed air, dry air, or nitrogen.
So, does a nitrogen generator make the most sense for your fire sprinkler system? Here are a few practical questions you can ask yourself when considering a dry pipe sprinkler filling solution like nitrogen:
What is the intended lifespan of the building?
Easy one. Is your building intended to be around for the next 60-100 years? If your answer is a no, does an investment in maintaining 98% nitrogen make the most sense? It may be time to consider other, less expensive alternatives.
Does the facility have proper fire sprinkler maintenance practices in place for a nitrogen generator?
This is the most important question here – and with good reason. N2 generators are much more sensitive systems than conventional air compressors and are in no way a substitute for maintenance. If a facility owner or manager neglects their sprinkler system to the point that it’s unusually leaky or problematic – to the point that they are regularly burning through air compressors – the situation will only get worse by adding an N2 generator to the mix. But nitrogen generators are not a miracle cure. Maintaining 98% nitrogen on a dry or pre-action sprinkler system takes regular maintenance on the unit and the sprinkler system as a whole.
Does the cost of replacing pipe really exceed the cost of investing in and maintaining a nitrogen generator?
Do the analysis. Run the numbers. How much does replacing pipe due to corrosion really cost your business? But keep in mind, you will have new maintenance expenses to factor in to properly maintain 98% nitrogen. An example of where nitrogen generators do make the most sense is when a facility is forced to shut down production in order to replace pipe due to corrosion (typically MIC-related). This creates additional opportunity cost that may make the investment in a nitrogen generator make sense. If you can relatively easily replace your pipe, with otherwise minimal disruption to your business or the building’s function, seeing the benefit of investing in a nitrogen generator may still be realized, but it may take longer than some might expect.
General Air Products is here to help.
The bottom line is there’s not often an easy answer when it comes to deciding to move ahead with the investment in a nitrogen generator. Some of these questions can (and should) lead to more questions. General Air Products is here to help. We’ve been filling dry pipe sprinkler systems for over 60 years with every piece of technology available, and our only goal is to see you fit with the right piece of equipment.
Please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-345-8207 to discuss your application!