Disadvantages of Nitrogen Generating Machines
What the generator manufacturers won’t tell you.
What the generator manufacturers won’t tell you.
You may have heard about Nitrogen generating machines and wondered to yourself, “why use a cylinder-based machine such as the NIflate99 when I could just buy a machine that makes its own Nitrogen?” The truth is, Nitrogen generating machines are not all they’re cracked up to be. Here’s why.
The NIflate99 equipment uses cylinders of 99% pure Nitrogen – one of two methods for inflating tires with Nitrogen. The other method is the use of a Nitrogen generating machine. But the problem is they weren’t designed for use in the automotive service industry. Nitrogen generators are expensive, complex systems with sensitive components originally designed for use in pristine laboratory and clean room environments. Their performance and durability degrade over time due to dirty, wet, and oily shop conditions. And dirt, moisture and oil produced by the compressor that powers them will ruin a Nitrogen generator. The fact is that Nitrogen generators have a track record in the auto shop environment, and it’s not good.
The NIflate99 equipment was designed specifically to overcome the drawbacks of Nitrogen generators. In fact, it is the first Nitrogen machine designed exclusively to perform reliably among the hazards of automotive service shops. The NIflate99 equipment’s design is based on a time tested concept: dispensing Nitrogen from cylinders. For years NASCAR has used cylinders of Nitrogen to inflate its racing tires. Most garages are comfortable using cylinders of gas for welding and would never consider generating their own oxygen or acetylene. Nitrogen should be no different. The NIflate99 equipment runs on cylinders of Nitrogen that are conveniently delivered to your location, or that you can pick up locally whenever you need them.
Manufacturers of Nitrogen generators are applying their systems in applications for which they were never designed. Before investing in any Nitrogen inflation system you need to become informed. Below you will find 5 myths and facts regarding Nitrogen generators, and a link to read our article comparing the NIflate99 with Nitrogen generating machines.
Fact: The cost of producing Nitrogen is anything but free. When you consider the electricity and wear and tear on your air compressor and dryer system, the costs add up quickly. It takes 4 cubic feet of atmosphere to create 1 cubic foot of Nitrogen. That means your air compressor has to run a long time in order to generate a small amount of Nitrogen.
Fact: Due to their inefficient design, Nitrogen generators are not capable of producing pure Nitrogen. In fact, when new, a generating machine will typically produce 95% pure Nitrogen. As the machine is used, its membrane (the filter which separates the Nitrogen from the atmosphere) degrades, producing lower and lower purities of Nitrogen. In fact many generators come packaged with purity gauges on them so you know when the membrane is worn out! With the NIflate99 purity is never an issue; it is always 99.9% pure.
Fact: As explained above, it takes 4 cubic feet of atmosphere to create one cubic foot of Nitrogen. It takes a while for the generator to produce that Nitrogen. That’s time that you don’t have. That’s why most generators come with large storage tanks to store Nitrogen. Not only does this make them either non-portable at worst, or big and clumsy at best, it also means that you still may end up waiting for the generator to finish making Nitrogen before you can use it, especially if you expect to do a large volume of cars or are inflating large tires. Don’t forget that it takes a generator three purges per tire for it to have a sufficient purity if Nitrogen. Chances are, the generator won’t be able to keep up.
Fact: They are anything but. Not only is the machine itself inefficient, but so will be the technician using it. The reason is because most generators are not automatic and require the technician to purge and fill each tire individually. That means each tire has to be deflated and inflated three times, all by hand, a process that will take at least 5 minutes per tire, or 20 minutes per vehicle! That’s time wasted that the technician could be performing another service. With the NIflate99, the machine does the work on all four tires simultaneously and automatically, freeing the technician to perform other services.
Fact: The heart of a Nitrogen generator is its membrane, the filter that actually separates the Nitrogen from the atmosphere that we breathe. The membrane degrades over time, especially in a dirty shop environment, and need to be completely replaced about every 2 years at an expense of over $1,000 (sometimes as much as $2,000). In addition, since the generator requires the use of an air dryer, you must be certain that this piece of equipment is properly maintained. If it is not, and moisture should get into the membrane, it will be rapidly destroyed. Besides the membrane, there are typically two or more filters to help protect the sensitive membrane that must be changed periodically.