About Fire Protection Air Compressors
Types of Fire Protection Air Compressors
Whisper quiet, compact units that are specifically designed for settings where noise is a concern. These units are oil-free, easy to install, low maintenance, and available in riser mount or tank mount configurations. New construction or tight systems with minimal air leaks are a good match for this series. Our tankless whisper-quiet units feature our Digital AMD Gen-3 with Leak Detection. Whisper Quiet Series units include a 1-year warranty.
When reliability is essential, C-Aire recommends the Oil Lubricated Tank Series. Our Heavy Duty (HD) oil-lubricated compressors are built for longevity and provide the lowest total cost of ownership over the life of the building. In addition to new projects where the compressor will last for many years, the Oil Lubricated Tank Series is the perfect solution for replacing failed compressors in older systems. Our Standard Duty (SD) oil-lubricated compressors are dependable units, built at an economical price. The HD and SD Series include a 1-year unit warranty and a 3-year pump warranty.
Regenerative drying air compressors that are specifically designed to prevent corrosion in dry pipe and pre-action sprinkler systems. The regenerative drying process (molecular sieve towers) dries system air to a less than -40°F dewpoint, which will stop the corrosion process. Please call for a quote or more information.
Tankless units that contain a motor, pump, and Digital AMD Gen-3 or 30-40 psi pressure switch. Our portable units are baseplate compressors fitted with pneumatic tires, a long handle, rubber feet, and a storage bracket for the handle. The baseplate and portable units feature our Digital AMD Gen-3 with Leak Detection. Baseplate and Portable units include a 1-year warranty and a 3-year pump warranty.
How to Choose an Air Compressor for Fire Sprinkler Systems
When choosing an air compressor for fire sprinkler systems, it's important to select a unit that is appropriately sized for your system. Here are a few tips for selecting a fire protection air compressor.
How to Size
- NFPA 13 Requirements: According to NFPA 13, the air supply shall have a capacity capable of restoring normal air pressure in the system within 30 minutes (NFPA 13 188.8.131.52.2). Also, air compressors with a flow greater than 5.5 CFM at 10 psi require a tank and regulator-style air maintenance device with a bypass and restrictor (NFPA 13 184.108.40.206).
- System Pressure (psi): The system pressure is determined by an air maintenance device, which regulates the supervisory air pressure in a dry pipe sprinkler system, pre-action system, or dry pilot sprinkler actuated deluge or pre-action valve. Some fire sprinkler system valves require the pressure to be set at a specific range.
- Single vs. Multi-Valve Systems: Single-valve dry sprinkler systems are compatible with all fire protection air compressors and require an air maintenance device or digital pressure switch (Digital AMD Gen-3) to control the system pressure. Multi-valve dry sprinkler systems are only compatible with tank-mounted air compressors and require an air maintenance device before each valve (not compatible with a digital pressure switch). For a more detailed breakdown, view our Best Practices diagram here.
- Size of the Largest System (gal): While there is technically no restriction on the number of systems one air compressor can serve, the typical recommendation is one air compressor per three systems. The largest system size will determine the number of gallons the air compressor needs to be rated for (capacity rating). Each system is filled one at a time and the 30-minute fill time requirement applies to each system separately.
- System Capacity (gal): The system capacity is determined by the flow rate (CFM) of the compressor and the pressure of the system (psi).
- C-Aire Dry System Capacity Table: Use the dry system capacity table to match compatible C-Aire Compressors with the capacity of your dry systems to find the compressor that best fits your needs. View the table here.
- Type of environment: Settings such as nursing homes, churches, and apartment buildings may need an oil-free compressor to avoid noise disturbances during operation. Oil-free compressors (Light Duty Series) are a good fit for quiet settings and require little maintenance. For older systems or applications where noise is not a concern, oil-lubricated compressors (Heavy Duty Series) are recommended as they are built for longevity and provide the lowest total cost of ownership over the life of the building.
- Corrosion prevention: Dry pipe systems are prone to corrosion, in part, due to moisture in the air produced by the air compressor. Regenerative drying air compressors (Dry Air Series) are specifically designed to prevent corrosion by drying system air to a less than -40°F dewpoint, which will also prevent the dangerous formation of ice plugs in cold storage systems. Per NFPA 13, normal system air pressure in cold systems (spaces below 5°F) shall be permitted to be restored within 60 minutes, instead of 30 minutes (NFPA 13 220.127.116.11.2). C-Aire's Dry Air Series system capacities are based on a 30-minute fill time.
- Maintenance: All air compressors require regular maintenance. As mentioned above, oil-free compressors are low maintenance, but they also do not last as long as oil-lubricated compressors. Having a proper maintenance plan for your air compressor is an essential part of any dry pipe fire sprinkler system. C-Aire has a Twin Cities-based service team with over 50 years of combined experience that will solve your service needs and help with your compressor maintenance.
In-Depth Guide to Fire Protection Air Compressors
How Air Compressors Work With Dry Pipe Fire Sprinkler Systems
In a dry pipe fire sprinkler system, the pipes that carry water to the sprinkler heads are not filled with water until the system is activated. Dry pipe systems are typically used in areas where the pipes may be exposed to freezing temperatures, such as unheated warehouses or parking garages. In these situations, the water in the pipes could freeze and cause the pipes to burst if the system were filled with water all the time.
A fire protection air compressor is used to pressurize the pipes that carry water to the sprinkler heads. The air compressor is connected to the system through a network of pipes.
When a fire is detected, the system will open a valve to release the pressurized air from the pipes. This causes the water in the pipes to be forced out through the sprinkler heads, dousing the fire with water.
The air compressor is an important part of the dry pipe fire sprinkler system because it provides the necessary pressure to hold the water back from entering the pipes. Without the air compressor, the sprinkler system would not be able to effectively suppress fires.
How Air Compressors Work With Pre-Action Fire Sprinkler Systems
A pre-action system is a type of fire sprinkler system that is designed to reduce the risk of accidental discharges. It is commonly used in areas where there is a risk of water damage, such as libraries, museums, or computer server rooms.
In a pre-action system, the sprinkler heads are not automatically activated when the system is pressurized. Instead, the system requires a separate signal, such as the detection of smoke, heat, or flame, before the sprinkler heads will open and release water. Unlike a dry pipe system, the pre-action valve controls the flow of water. The integrity of the pipe is also monitored by observing the air pressure in the piping. If there is a leak in the system, the air pressure will decrease and trigger an alarm, signifying a low air pressure situation.
When a fire is detected by a sprinkler head, the system will open an electronic pre-action valve to allow water to flow into the pipes. At this point, the system essentially becomes a wet pipe system. The activated fire sprinkler heads are opened to release water, leaving the other sprinkler heads in the system intact.
The air compressor is an important part of the pre-action fire sprinkler system because it provides the necessary pressure to hold the water back if the valve is inadvertently opened. Without the air compressor, the sprinkler system would not be able to effectively monitor leaks and protect against accidental detector operation.