4 Types Of Fire Sprinkler Heads (With Photos) | Upgraded Home (2022)

4 Types Of Fire Sprinkler Heads (With Photos) | Upgraded Home (1)

Smoke alarms are useful, but they don’t do anything to extinguish a fire. Fire sprinkler systems are the opposite in that they don’t react to smoke, but they release water in extreme temperatures. You can stop fires before they become deadly with a fire sprinkler system, so how do fire sprinkler heads differ?

Upright, concealed, pendent, and sidewall heads are the main types of fire sprinkler heads. Upright, concealed, and pendent heads descend from the ceiling and spray water down. Sidewall fire sprinkler heads are used when there isn’t space for water pipes in the ceiling, and they spray water in a crescent shape.

There are several options, sizes, shapes, and temperatures sensitivities within each type of fire sprinkler head. Fire sprinkler heads react to hot temperatures and release water when a predetermined temperature is reached. Follow along as we explore the different types of fire sprinkler heads and see what makes them unique.

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4 Types Of Fire Sprinkler Heads (With Photos) | Upgraded Home (2)

Fire Sprinkler Head Parts

Each variety of fire sprinkler heads is unique, but they generally contain the same vital parts. The components inside of a fire sprinkler head work together to detect extreme temperatures. It is important to understand how these components work and factor into the varieties of fire sprinkler heads.

Sealing Assembly

The sealing assembly on a fire sprinkler head is just as important as the water itself. Sealing assemblies act as plugs that keep water at bay until you need to put out a fire. This component is only necessary for a wet sprinkler system, but that is the most effective fire response system.


Most types of fire sprinkler heads contain bulbs, and they are a vital component of the system. The bulb effectively plugs the water so that it doesn’t shoot out of the head until it is activated. Fire sprinkler head bulbs are weighted with liquid that helps the part stay in place.

Bulbs both plug the water and can detect dangerous temperatures and respond appropriately. Manufacturers typically fill fire sprinkler head bulbs with glycerin, and glycerin reacts to extreme temperatures. Glycerin swells with heat, and that causes the bulb to shatter which allows water to spray from the head.

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Deflectors are directly responsible for the water getting where it needs to go. Sprinkler heads contain deflectors so that the water can spray outward, and water won’t get trapped in the ceiling or walls. A fire sprinkler head’s deflector is made of metal, and it essentially acts as a springboard for the water.

Water releases from within the sprinkler system and hits the deflector so that it can spray down and extinguish a fire. Each type of fire sprinkler head has a unique deflector because of the angle that it needs to spray water from. Without a deflector, there is no way to guarantee that water will spray from the head and put out a flame.

Heat Sensor

A heat sensor, or heat-sensing element, is a common alternative to bulbs in a fire sprinkler head. They are more practical in bulbs in many ways and require no bulb to shatter to activate the system. Instead, heat sensors feature a fusible link that contains metal filaments that react to high temperatures.

Similar to the glycerin in a bulb, the metal filament in a heat sensor undergoes a reaction in extreme heat. The metal filament gradually melts under extreme heat until it drops and kicks the sprinkler system into high gear. Water rushes out of the system, hits the deflector, and sprays out of the head to extinguish the fire.

1. Upright

4 Types Of Fire Sprinkler Heads (With Photos) | Upgraded Home (3)

If you have an open ceiling, then you probably have an upright fire sprinkler head. An upright fire sprinkler head comes out from the top of the water pipe and they rain down from above. It is common to find upright fire sprinkler heads in warehouses or large office spaces with open and unfinished ceilings.

Upright fire sprinkler heads are perfect for high ceilings, and they can cover a lot of ground. Fires that break out in large open spaces can be easily extinguished with an upright fire sprinkler head. There are several shapes and sizes to choose from with upright fire sprinkler heads to accommodate different spaces.

They are the opposite of standard fire sprinkler heads that come down through the ceiling. Upright fire sprinkler heads have the most protection from dust, debris, and ice during the winter. Water sprays down in a dome shape when the plug is released, and that’s why upright heads cover so much ground.

2. Concealed

4 Types Of Fire Sprinkler Heads (With Photos) | Upgraded Home (4)

As the name suggests, concealed fire sprinkler heads are difficult to spot until they are activated and spray water. Concealed fire sprinkler heads are just as effective as standard pendent heads, but they are flush with the ceiling. That makes concealed fire sprinkler heads the perfect option for those that don’t want their sprinkler to be easily detectable.

Decorative caps cover concealed fire sprinkler heads and drop when they are activated. The caps drop out when the sprinkler system gets near the temperature that causes the sprinkler system to release water. Your decorative caps act almost as secondary plugs, but they don’t hold any water back.

Instead, the caps drop out and the fire sprinkler heads themselves lower to let water out of the pipes. It is possible to replace the decorative caps if your sprinkler system is activated or if the caps are damaged. Never paint or tamper with your concealed fire sprinkler head, or it may not lower and activate in the event of a fire.

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3. Sidewall

4 Types Of Fire Sprinkler Heads (With Photos) | Upgraded Home (5)

Sidewall fire sprinkler heads are necessary if you don’t have access to an overhead water pipe or upright head. They are ideal for small spaces, and sidewall fire sprinkler heads cannot cover a lot of ground like an upright head. The deflector on a sidewall fire sprinkler head is unique and designed to project water downward and away from the ceiling.

Instead of the water coming out like a dome with an upright sprinkler head, sidewall sprinklers spray water in a crescent shape. You can use sidewall sprinkler heads in conjunction with upright and concealed heads if you need to cover tight spaces. Sidewall sprinkler heads are perfect for closets or narrow storage spaces without overhead pipe access.

4. Pendent

4 Types Of Fire Sprinkler Heads (With Photos) | Upgraded Home (6)

The most common type of fire sprinkler head is the traditional pendent, or pendant, head. Water descends from a pendent sprinkler head in a cone shape spraying evenly from each side. The even water coverage of pendent sprinkler heads is what makes them the ideal protection against fires.

You can find pendent fire sprinkler heads in industrial buildings, office spaces, and even residences. They require an overhead water pipe that sends water to the deflector and down the sides of the head. Individual pendent sprinkler heads vary based on temperature activation, shape, size, and spray pattern.

What Is the Best Kind of Fire Sprinkler?

Upright and traditional pendent heads are the most effective. They can cover large spaces evenly and have fast response times. Sidewall sprinklers are the best option if you need to cover a small, cramped space.

Concealed sprinkler heads are just as effective as upright and pendent heads. Some business and property owners prefer concealed heads because they are flush with the ceiling. Upright fire sprinklers are ideal because water rains down in a dome shape along the sides of the head to cover the most ground.

Wet pipe systems are ideal because they utilize water to extinguish a fire. A dry fire sprinkler system is effective, but they use nitrogen and pressurized air. Dry systems simply don’t work as well because water is more reliable and can quickly put out flames.

Related Questions

Do fire sprinklers detect smoke?

No, fire sprinklers do not detect smoke, and they only activate due to high temperatures. Fire sprinkler heads are sensitive to extreme temperatures and often release water before smoke appears. They are the most effective way to extinguish a fire because they often turn on before the fire department can arrive.

Should fire sprinklers be inspected?

Yes, you should have your fire sprinkler system inspected every 10 years to be safe. It is also common to inspect fire sprinklers if they have recently been activated to make sure that they will work again. Inspect your fire sprinklers during the winter to check for signs of frost and ice damage.

Are fire sprinklers required in apartments?

Fire sprinklers are required in apartment buildings, but not within individual apartments. Large apartment buildings often have fire sprinklers throughout the property. Any building over 5,000 square feet or over 55’ tall must have fire sprinklers on the premises.

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Summing It Up

Upright and pendent heads are the most common types of fire sprinkler heads. Concealed fire sprinkler heads work the same way, but they have decorative caps that make them flush with the ceiling. Sidewall fire sprinkler heads spray in a crescent shape and are primarily ideal for small spaces.

Upright, concealed, and pendent fire sprinkler heads all require an overhead water pipe. You can use sidewall sprinkler systems for additional coverage in spaces that have upright and pendent sprinkler heads. Fire sprinkler heads react to extreme temperatures and do not activate when smoke is present.

Water rushes out of the pipe, hits the deflector, and sprays out of the fire sprinkler head. Fire sprinkler heads either use bulbs filled with glycerin or fusible links to detect spikes in temperature.

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Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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What are the 4 types of sprinkler systems? ›

Types of sprinkler systems permissible by NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, are wet, dry, preaction, and deluge.

What are the different types of fire sprinkler heads? ›

There are 4 common varieties of fire sprinkler heads: pendent, upright, sidewall & concealed - each with their own particular use.

What are the three types of sprinkler heads? ›

There are three basic sprinkler head types– Spray Irrigation Heads and Spray Rotary Sprinkler Heads, Bubbler Irrigation Heads, and Drip or Soaker Systems. Each different sprinkler head will water your plants in the particular way they like.

What is in a fire sprinkler head? ›

The bulbs typically contain a glycerin-based liquid. As the air around the sprinkler head reaches the target temperature – usually 155F or 200F – the glycerin-based liquid expands. Once the target temp is reached, the liquid expands enough to burst the glass bulb.

What are fire heads? ›

A fire sprinkler or sprinkler head is the component of a fire sprinkler system that discharges water when the effects of a fire have been detected, such as when a predetermined temperature has been exceeded. Fire sprinklers are extensively used worldwide, with over 40 million sprinkler heads fitted each year.

What type of sprinkler head should I use? ›

Sprinkler heads commonly operate at a residential water pressure of 30 to 50 pounds per square inch (PSI). Sprayers and rotary heads work best the water pressure is less than 40 PSI. A rotary sprinkler head is most effective on lawns greater than 30 square feet.

How fire sprinkler heads work? ›

Most sprinkler heads feature a glass bulb filled with a glycerin-based liquid. This liquid expands when it comes in contact with air heated to between 135 and 165 degrees. When the liquid expands, it shatters its glass confines and the sprinkler head activates.

What is the use of sprinkler? ›

Sprinkler/spray irrigation is the method of applying water to a controlled manner in that is similar to rainfall. The water is distributed through a network that may consist of pumps, valves, pipes, and sprinklers. Irrigation sprinklers can be used for residential, industrial, and agricultural usage.

What NFPA stands for? ›

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a global self-funded nonprofit organization, established in 1896, devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.

How many fire sprinkler systems are there? ›

What are the Different Types of Fire Sprinkler Systems? Wet pipe, dry pipe, pre-action, and deluge are four types of fire sprinkler systems. Each of these systems helps prevent flames from spreading and reduces fire damage.

What are the two main types of sprinkler systems? ›

Sprinkler system types
  • Wet pipe systems. Wet pipe sprinkler systems are the most common system. ...
  • Dry pipe systems. Dry pipe systems are installed in spaces where the ambient temperature may be cold enough to freeze the water in a wet pipe system, making a wet pipe system inoperable. ...
  • Deluge systems. ...
  • Pre-action systems.

What are the sizes of sprinkler heads? ›

Pop-up sprinkler heads generally range from 2 to 20 inches with the water reaching between 3 and 15 feet. The pop-up sprinkler head types that reach a height of four inches when activated are great for grassy areas and lawns, where blades are generally around 3 inches.

What is sprinkler system in safety? ›

sprinkler system, in fire control, a means of protecting a building against fire by causing an automatic discharge of water, usually from pipes near the ceiling.

How many sprinkler heads should be on a zone? ›

At different pressures, the sprinkler head and nozzle will consume different amounts of water. For example, at 35 pounds per square inch (PSI) the 5000 Series Rotor using the 3.0 nozzle will use 3.11 gallons per minute (GPM). If your home's water capacity was 10 GPM, you could place 3 heads per zone.

What is sprinkler system and how it works? ›

Sprinkler irrigation System is a system of watering your farm which works like normal rainfall. Water flow passes around through a system of pipes mainly by pumping. It is then separated through sprinklers so that it splits up into tiny water drops that fall to the ground.

Where are fire sprinklers used? ›

Fire Sprinkler Systems Explained - YouTube

What is fire sprinkler pipe called? ›

The CPVC used in sprinkler installations is also called Blazemaster. The pipe is orange in color. CPVC is listed for residential use, light hazard use and limited ordinary hazard use.

What is the standard pressure for fire sprinkler? ›

➢ Fire sprinklers typically require only 7 pounds-per-square-inch (psi) to operate, which is less than the minimum required pressure for residential plumbing fixtures.

What is sprinkler temperature? ›

Sprinkler Response Temperatures
Intermediate150°F175°F - 225°F
High225°F250°F - 300°F
Extra High300°F325°F - 375°F
Very Extra High375°F400°F - 475°F
3 more rows
22 May 2021

What is sprinkler K factor? ›

K-factor helps to calculate the discharge rate from fire sprinkler heads. It's calculated in imperial units for the United States by using the flow in gallons per minute (gpm) and the pressure in PSI. Metric calculations use the flow in liters per minute and pressure in bar.

Is code for fire sprinkler system? ›

IS 15105: Design and Installation of Fixed Automatic Sprinkler Fire Extinguishing Systems--Code of Practice.

How tall are sprinkler heads? ›

Sprinkler heads typically range between 2 and 20 inches tall, but confirm this with measuring tape before you dig your trench. Also measure the diameter of the pipe you plan to use; this is often a 1-inch diameter. Add another 1/2 inch or full inch for the T-joint used to connect the pipe to the sprinkler head riser.

What is the color code for sprinkler heads? ›

The Basics of Sprinkler Thermal Characteristics
Max Ceiling Temperature oF (oC)Temperature Rating oF (oC)Color Code
300 (149)325-375 (163-191)Red
375 (191)400-475 (204-246)Green
475 (246)500-575 (260-302)Orange
625 (329)650 (343Orange
3 more rows
22 Jun 2021

How do I identify sprinkler heads? ›

Let's get to it: a sprinkler identification number consists of one or two letters followed by three or four numbers. That code is imprinted on each sprinkler's deflector—the thin metallic part furthest away from a sprinkler's threaded inlet.

How do you control sprinkler heads? ›

Hunter Spray Adjustments and Maintenance - YouTube

How many sprinkler heads are operating? ›

FACT - Residential fires are usually controlled by one sprinkler head. FACT - A 10-year study conducted in Scottsdale, Arizona found that 92% of all fires that occurred were controlled by two or less sprinkler heads.

How do sprinkler heads attach? ›

Spray Sprinkler Installation - YouTube

What is sprinkler answer? ›

A sprinkler is a device used to spray water. Sprinklers are used to water plants or grass, or to put out fires in buildings.

What is hand sprinkler? ›

More Definitions of Hand watering

Hand watering means the application of water for irrigation purposes through a hand- held hose equipped with an Automatic Shut-Off Device or a hand-held watering container. A person must be physically holding the hose or container. Sample 1.

What triggers fire sprinklers? ›

The most common type of trigger is a glass ampule filled with a glycerin-based liquid that expands when heated. 155º As soon as the trigger mechanism is heated to the required temperature, it trips and the water is released.

What is NFPA testing? ›

Functional Testing

The NFPA defines testing as "a procedure used to determine the operational status of a component or system as intended by conducting periodic physical checks, such as water flow tests, fire pump tests, alarm tests, and trip tests of dry-pipe valves (NFPA 25)."

What does FM stand for fire? ›

FM (Factory Mutual) Approval is a national recognized testing laboratory (non-government operated). Their mission is similar to that of UL in that they test and certify safety equipment to ensure that it is up to standard. However, the most significant difference is that FM Global mainly focuses on fire equipment.

What does NFA stand for in fire? ›

The National Fire Academy (NFA) works to enhance the ability of fire and emergency services and allied professionals to deal more effectively with fire and related emergencies.

What is the most common type of sprinkler system? ›

Wet pipe systems are the most common type of fire sprinkler systems. These systems are filled with water from an automatic source, and when a sprinkler head is exposed to enough heat, the heat-sensitive element will release and water will be allowed to flow from that sprinkler.

What are the two main types of sprinkler systems? ›

Sprinkler system types
  • Wet pipe systems. Wet pipe sprinkler systems are the most common system. ...
  • Dry pipe systems. Dry pipe systems are installed in spaces where the ambient temperature may be cold enough to freeze the water in a wet pipe system, making a wet pipe system inoperable. ...
  • Deluge systems. ...
  • Pre-action systems.

What are the 3 main methods of irrigation? ›

There are three commonly used methods: surface irrigation, sprinkler irrigation and drip irrigation.

What is the most effective type of sprinkler? ›

Rotating sprinklers are the best type of sprinkler for a large lawn due to their even distribution and ability to work quickly.

How many types of fire sprinkler systems? ›

All fire sprinklers are one of four types: pendent, upright, sidewall, or concealed.

What type of pipe is used for fire sprinkler systems? ›

The most commonly used steel pipe for sprinkler systems is black steel pipe. Copper tubing is another piping material listed for sprinklers in NFPA 13. Also, plastic pipe (namely, CPVC and PEX tubing) is permitted for certain types of sprinkler systems.

What is the use of fire sprinkler? ›

The sprinkler sprays water forcefully over the flames, extinguishing them completely in most cases, or at least controlling the heat and limiting the development of toxic smoke until the fire department arrives. Only the sprinkler nearest the fire activates. Smoke will not activate sprinklers.

What is called sprinkler system? ›

Definition of sprinkler system

: a system for protecting a building against fire by means of overhead pipes which convey an extinguishing fluid (such as water) to heat-activated outlets.

Where is sprinkler system used? ›

An irrigation sprinkler (also known as a water sprinkler or simply a sprinkler) is a device used to irrigate (water) agricultural crops, lawns, landscapes, golf courses, and other areas. They are also used for cooling and for the control of airborne dust.

What is sprinkler system Class 8? ›

It is a modern method of irrigation. In this type of system, the perpendicular pipes, having rotating nozzles on top, are joined to the main pipeline at regular intervals.

What are the 5 types of irrigation? ›

Types of Irrigation Systems
  • Surface irrigation. Water is distributed over and across land by gravity, no mechanical pump involved.
  • Localized irrigation. ...
  • Drip irrigation. ...
  • Sprinkler irrigation. ...
  • Center pivot irrigation. ...
  • Lateral move irrigation. ...
  • Sub-irrigation. ...
  • Manual irrigation.

What is 4 function of farm irrigation system? ›

Irrigation helps to grow agricultural crops, maintain landscapes, and revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of less than average rainfall. Irrigation also has other uses in crop production, including frost protection, suppressing weed growth in grain fields and preventing soil consolidation.

What are the five methods of irrigation explain? ›

There are five basic methods of irrigation (flooding, furrow irrigation, trickle, sprinkling, and sub irrigation). Numerous subclasses exist within each of these basic methods.

What type of sprinkler head do I need? ›

Sprinkler heads commonly operate at a residential water pressure of 30 to 50 pounds per square inch (PSI). Sprayers and rotary heads work best the water pressure is less than 40 PSI. A rotary sprinkler head is most effective on lawns greater than 30 square feet.

How do sprinklers work? ›

The sprinkler is just a plug that holds back water in a pipe similar to your other plumbing pipes. Heat from a fire will break a glass tube or melt a solder plug which releases the water. The water comes out as a spray that covers the area immediately around the sprinkler, putting out the fire.

How do I choose a fire sprinkler? ›

Sprinklers should be chosen by evaluating the occupancy, hazards, and conditions (ceiling height, type of construction, ambient temperature, available water supply, etc.) of the building, and more specifically, the area the sprinklers will be protecting.


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