Fire extinguishers are essential safety devices that can help you put out small fires and prevent them from spreading. However, not all fire extinguishers are the same. They come in different sizes, types, and ratings, depending on the kind of fire they are designed to fight.
One of the most common questions people have when buying a fire extinguisher is: what size should I get? The size of a fire extinguisher indicates the amount of extinguishing agent it holds and is usually measured in pounds. The most popular sizes are 10 lb and 20 lb, but which one is better for your needs?
In this article, we will compare 10 lb vs 20 lb fire extinguishers, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to choose the right one for your home or business. We will also provide some tips on how to use and maintain your fire extinguisher properly.
- 10 lb fire extinguishers are suitable for most residential and small commercial settings, as they are easy to handle and store, and can fight most common types of fires.
- 20 lb fire extinguishers are ideal for large or high-risk areas, such as warehouses, factories, garages, or kitchens, as they have more extinguishing power and can last longer.
- The size of a fire extinguisher is not the only factor to consider. You also need to check the type and rating of the extinguisher, which indicate what kind of fire it can put out and how effective it is.
- To use a fire extinguisher safely and effectively, you need to follow the PASS method: Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle, Squeeze the lever, and Sweep from side to side.
- To maintain your fire extinguisher in good condition, you need to inspect it regularly, recharge it after use or when needed, and replace it when it expires or is damaged.
10 lb Fire Extinguisher: Pros and Cons
A 10 lb fire extinguisher is one of the most common sizes for residential and small commercial use. It weighs about 16 to 18 pounds when full and has a discharge time of about 13 to 15 seconds. It can cover a range of about 10 to 15 feet.
A 10 lb fire extinguisher has several advantages:
- It is easy to handle and operate by most adults.
- It is compact and portable, so you can store it in a closet, under a sink, or in a car trunk.
- It can fight most types of fires that occur in homes or offices, such as wood, paper, fabric, electrical, or flammable liquids.
- It is affordable and widely available in stores or online.
However, a 10 lb fire extinguisher also has some drawbacks:
- It may not be enough to put out large or deep-seated fires that involve combustible metals, cooking oils, or pressurized gases.
- It may run out of agent quickly if you use it incorrectly or inefficiently.
- It may be too heavy or bulky for some people, especially children, elderly, or disabled.
20 lb Fire Extinguisher: Pros and Cons
A 20 lb fire extinguisher is a larger size that is suitable for industrial or high-risk settings. It weighs about 32 to 35 pounds when full and has a discharge time of about 20 to 25 seconds. It can cover a range of about 15 to 20 feet.
A 20 lb fire extinguisher has several advantages:
- It has more extinguishing power and capacity than a 10 lb fire extinguisher.
- It can last longer and cover a larger area than a 10 lb fire extinguisher.
- It can fight more types of fires that occur in warehouses, factories, garages, or kitchens, such as combustible metals, cooking oils, or pressurized gases.
However, a 20 lb fire extinguisher also has some drawbacks:
- It is harder to handle and operate by most adults.
- It is bulky and heavy, so you need more space and strength to store and carry it.
- It is more expensive and less available than a 10 lb fire extinguisher.
How to Choose the Right Size Fire Extinguisher
The size of a fire extinguisher is not the only factor you need to consider when choosing one for your home or business. You also need to check the type and rating of the extinguisher, which indicate what kind of fire it can put out and how effective it is.
The type of a fire extinguisher is denoted by a letter that corresponds to the class of fire it can fight:
- A: Ordinary combustibles, such as wood, paper, fabric, and plastics.
- B: Flammable liquids and gases, such as gasoline, oil, paint, and propane.
- C: Electrical equipment, such as appliances, tools, or wiring.
- D: Combustible metals, such as magnesium, aluminum, or lithium.
- K: Cooking oils and fats, such as vegetable oil, animal fat, or grease.
The rating of a fire extinguisher is denoted by a number that reflects its extinguishing potential. For Class A fires, the number represents the equivalent of gallons of water. For Class B fires, the number represents the square feet of fire it can put out. For Class C fires, there is no number rating, only the letter C. For Class D and K fires, there are specific ratings that vary by manufacturer.
For example, a fire extinguisher with a 4-A:60-B:C rating means that it can put out a Class A fire equivalent to 5 gallons of water (4 x 1.25), a Class B fire of 60 square feet, and a Class C fire involving electrical equipment.
To choose the right size fire extinguisher for your needs, you need to consider the following factors:
- The size and type of the area you want to protect. Larger or higher-risk areas may require larger or more specialized fire extinguishers.
- The type and amount of fuel that may ignite in the area. Different types of fires require different types of fire extinguishers.
- The ease and convenience of use and storage. Smaller or lighter fire extinguishers may be easier to handle and store than larger or heavier ones.
As a general rule of thumb, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends the following minimum sizes for fire extinguishers:
- For residential use: At least one 2-A:10-B:C fire extinguisher on each floor and one 5-B:C fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
- For commercial use: At least one 2-A fire extinguisher for every 3,000 square feet and one 10-B:C fire extinguisher within 50 feet of any flammable liquid storage.
However, these are only minimum guidelines and you may need larger or additional fire extinguishers depending on your specific situation. You should consult with your local fire department or a professional fire safety company for more advice on choosing the right size fire extinguisher for your needs.
Comparison Table: 10 lb vs 20 lb Fire Extinguisher
To summarize, here is a table that compares the main features and differences between 10 lb and 20 lb fire extinguishers:
|Feature||10 lb Fire Extinguisher||20 lb Fire Extinguisher|
|Weight (full)||16 to 18 pounds||32 to 35 pounds|
|Discharge time||13 to 15 seconds||20 to 25 seconds|
|Range||10 to 15 feet||15 to 20 feet|
|Suitable for||Residential and small commercial use||Industrial and high-risk use|
|Advantages||Easy to handle and store, can fight most common fires, affordable and available||More extinguishing power and capacity, can last longer and cover larger area, can fight more types of fires|
|Disadvantages||May not be enough for large or deep-seated fires, may run out quickly, may be too heavy or bulky for some people||Harder to handle and operate, bulky and heavy, more expensive and less available|
Fire extinguishers are vital safety devices that can help you prevent a small fire from becoming a big disaster. However, not all fire extinguishers are the same. They come in different sizes, types, and ratings, depending on the kind of fire they are designed to fight.
We hope this article has helped you understand the differences between 10 lb vs 20 lb fire extinguishers, their pros and cons, and how to select the right size for your needs. Remember that having a fire extinguisher is not enough; you also need to have a fire escape plan and practice it regularly with your family or employees. Stay safe!