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Sprinklers in electrical rooms according to NFPA 13

Sprinklers in Electrical Rooms


Sprinklers in electrical rooms according to NFPA 13
Sprinklers in electrical rooms according to NFPA 13

This article is not about high value equipment rooms like server rooms which shall be protected by a system other than sprinkler systems, this is about basic electrical rooms like (switchboards, panelboards, switchgear, or motor control centers) 1000 volts nominal or less.


Are sprinklers or sprinkler piping permitted to be installed in electrical rooms?


According to NFPA 13 – 2019 edition, Sprinklers and sprinkler piping is permitted in and is permitted to pass through an electrical room as long as the piping is not within the “dedicated electrical space”.

Sprinkler systems had been successfully installed in rooms containing electrical equipment for 100 years, with no documented instances of a problem, this measure was always controversial, based on the following concerns for fire fighters:
1- Risk safety for responding firefighters in or near electrical rooms where sprinklers might be discharging over live equipment.
2- Water would cause additional damage to the electrical equipment.

Considering above concerns, NFPA has permitted to omit sprinklers of electrical room in specific cases which will be discussed later in this article.


What is dedicated electrical space?


According to NFPA 70 – 2017 edition, a dedicated electrical space is defined as the space equal to the width and the depth of the equipment extending from the floor to a height of 1.8 m above the equipment or the structural ceiling, whichever is lower.


Can we install sprinklers in the dedicated electrical space?


Systems or equipment foreign to the electrical installation such as (Plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning piping, ducts, and equipment) are not allowed in dedicated electrical space and must be installed outside this space. So, as long as the sprinkler piping does not run through this space, it can go in and out of the electric room without any issue, while busways, conduits, raceways, and cables are permitted to enter equipment through this zone. Foreign systems installed directly above the dedicated space reserved for electrical equipment are required to include protective equipment that ensures that occurrences such as leaks, condensation, and even breaks do not damage the electrical equipment located below.


Can we install sprinkler piping above the dedicated electrical space?


Foreign systems are allowed in the area above the dedicated electrical space as long as the electrical equipment is properly protected against leaks or breaks in the foreign system. So the sprinkler piping can run above the dedicated electrical space 1.8 m above equipment as long as the equipment below is protected from leaks.


Can we protect dedicated electrical space by sprinkler system?


Sprinkler protection is permitted for the dedicated space if complying with above mentioned constraints.
Note that: Leak protection could include drip pans which may create an obstruction to sprinkler system discharge. So, it is always best to avoid locating sprinklers and sprinkler piping directly above electrical equipment, additionally, sprinklers and sprinkler piping are not permitted to be located directly within the working space for the equipment as shown in the figures below. 


Sprinklers in electrical rooms according to NFPA 13
Sprinklers in electrical rooms according to NFPA 13

Sprinklers in electrical rooms according to NFPA 13
Sprinklers in electrical rooms according to NFPA 13



To know how to determine the working space of electrical equipment, please visit the link below:Working Space & Dedicated Electrical Space


When can we omit Sprinklers in electrical equipment rooms?


Where all of the following conditions are met, sprinklers shall not be required in electrical rooms:
(1) The room is dedicated to electrical equipment only.
(2) Only dry-type or liquid-type with listed K-class fluid electrical equipment is used.
(3) Equipment is installed in a 2-hour fire-rated enclosure including protection for penetrations.
(4) Storage is not permitted in the room.



References of this article:

1- NFPA 13 - 2019 edition (Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems).
2- NFPA 70 - 2017 edition (National Electric Code).



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  19. According to NFPA 13 – 2019 edition, Sprinklers and sprinkler piping is permitted in and is permitted to pass through an electrical room as long as the piping is not within the “dedicated electrical space”. 2- Water would cause additional damage to the electrical equipment. https://www.affordablelectricians.com.au/electrician-thomastown.html

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