As a business owner, having a reliable fire suppression system in place is one of the best ways to protect every part of your company, including your equipment, inventory, and employees. But with so many options for systems on the market, it can be difficult to decide which one is the right fit for you. When it comes to class A, B, and C fires, clean agent fire suppression systems can be highly effective at eliminating a fire in its inception phase before it has the chance to grow, spread, and cause damage.

This article will discuss two of the main clean agent fire suppression agents: FM-200™ and Novec™ 1230. We’ll cover the basics of each and then answer the question “What is the difference between FM-200™ and Novec™ 1230?” so you can better understand which is best for you.

How Does FM-200™ Work?

FM-200™ is a clean agent fire suppressant that uses the chemical hydrofluorocarbon, a colorless, liquid gas, to suppress fires. FM-200™ works by disrupting what is known as the fire triangle (heat, oxygen, and a fuel source). Essentially, it removes the presence of heat, which interferes with the fire’s ability to grow.

What is the Novec™ System?

Novec™ 1230 is an FM-200™ alternative and is one of the leading clean agent fire suppression agents. It works similarly to FM-200™ in that it removes heat from the fire to rapidly suppress it. But what is Novec™ made of? Produced by 3M™, Novec™ 1230 uses a fluoroketone chemical compound that’s also called FK-5-1-12. The compound is stored as a liquid, but it discharges as a gas once the system is activated.

FM-200™ vs Novec™ 1230 Comparison

Both agents sound similar on paper. They’re both clean agents, which means they are safe for use on sensitive equipment and don’t leave behind a residue, and use chemical agents to remove the presence of heat from a fire, thereby suppressing it. But that’s really where the similarities stop. Now let’s explore the differences between the two suppression agents.

Safety

Both FM-200™ and Novec™ 1230 have a low risk of toxicity and are considered safe for use in populated areas, like a factory floor, warehouse, archives or office building. And, because they’re not carbon dioxide or inert gas agents, both FM-200™ and Novec™ 1230 do not come with any danger of suffocation. This means you can have peace of mind with whichever agent you ultimately choose. While they are similar in many respects, these suppression agents do have their differences.

One of the disadvantages of FM-200™ is that it does come with slightly more risk of injury or health complication… especially if it’s handled improperly. If skin comes in contact with the product while it’s discharging (as it’s released as a gas) it can cause frostbite. Additionally, inhaling quantities of it in high concentrations may cause headaches, dizziness, loss of coordination, confusion, and potentially loss of consciousness. With all that said, these risk factors are low when following the manufacturers’ design concentration recommendations.

How does Novec™ 1230 compare? The primary concern with Novec™ 1230 is the risk of mild eye irritation if exposed to high concentrations of the product over an extended period of time.

Environmental Impact

Those interested in the environmental impact of using clean agent fire suppression agents like FM-200™ and Novec™ 1230 can rest assured, knowing that both have zero ozone depletion potential (ODP).

However, they do differ when it comes to their global warming potential (GWP), or the amount of emitted greenhouse gas that is estimated to contribute to global warming each year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Novec™ 1230 has a GWP of 1 while FM-200™ has a GWP of 3350. This means Novec™ 1230 is the more environmentally-friendly choice.

Storage

When it comes to storage, we see one of the Novec™ 1230 disadvantages. While both chemical agents are stored in cylinders in liquid form, Novec™ 1230 tends to require more product to protect your property. That means having to install more cylinders or larger cylinders of Novec™ 1230 than you would FM-200™. If storage is a concern, FM-200™ might be the right option for you.

Cost

While both systems are fairly similar in price, FM-200™ tends to be a slightly more cost-effective option because it’s more readily available and because less of the product is needed. In general, fire suppression systems can range in price from a few thousand dollars to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending upon many factors, including the size of the system and the number of cylinders needed.

No matter which fire suppression system you choose, Firetrace can find you the right solution to meet your unique requirements. Our fire suppression systems are designed to keep your business, your employees, and your equipment safe by automatically detecting and suppressing fires. Our engineering team is ready to design a fire suppression system that is ideal for your application.

Contact a suppression specialist today.

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