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Hazen Williams formula for use in fire sprinkler systems Page 1 of 3

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Hazen Williams formula for use


in fire sprinkler systems
 Category: Hydraulic calculation for fire protection engineers

The Hazen Williams formula is an empirical equation and has long been used for calculating the friction loss in
pipework for water based fire sprinkler protection systems. This equation uses the coefficient C to specify the pipes
roughness, which is not based on a function of the Reynolds number, as in other pressure loss equations. This
however has the disadvantage that the equation can only be used when water is flowing within the 'turbulent' flow
range. If the system is outside the normal pressure and flow range or the system is to use additives, or will be
subject to unusual temperature conditions then the Darcy Weisbach equation may be more appropriate.

Gardner Williams and Allen Hazen first started there Experimentation in the early part of the 20th century.  They
began to record the friction loss through pipe in numerous experimentations in their studies resulted in the
development of a empirical formula which we know today as the Hazen- Williams formula.  The formula along with a
series of friction loss tables computed from the formula was published in 1903.

The Hazen Williams formula has the advantage of been simple to calculate by using a scientific calculator where as
the Darcy Weisbach equation requires the use 'f' friction factor and this can only be calculated by an number of
iterations as 'f' is on both sides of the equation. You can use a Moody diagram to find the value of 'f' however this is
both time consuming and almost certainly not an inaccurate method.

The Hazen William formula has now become adopted through the world as the pressure loss formula to use for the
hydraulic design of fire sprinkler systems and in almost all cases the use of the hazen william formula will provide
adequate answers. The Hazen William formula can also be used for the calculation of water mist systems where the
system pressure does not exceed 12 bar (low pressure water mist systems) or the water velocity does not exceed
7.6 m/s and the minimum pipe size is 20mm in the case of intermediate and high pressure water mist systems.

You can use Canute Hcalc hydraulic calculator (/Hcalc/hcalc-free-hydraulic-calculator-for-fire-sprinkler-


hydraulic-calculations.html) to visually explore the relationship between the flow, pipe diameter and the pipe
c-factor in the Hazen Williams formula which will give you a good understanding of the formula. The Hcalc software
is free to download and use.

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Hazen Williams formula for use in fire sprinkler systems Page 2 of 3

when:

p = pressure loss in bar per meter


Q = flow through the pipe in L/min
C = friction loss coefficient
d = internal diameter of the pipe in mm

You can seen the above equation that if Q is raised to the power of 1.85 in the above equation this has the effect
that if the flow is doubled and all other things remain constant the friction loss will increase by almost 4 times, if the
flow was to triple the friction loss would almost be 9 times greater.  You can also see that the pipe diameter D is
raised to the power of 4.87 and that it's in the denominator on the right hand side of the equation.  Therefore any
increase in the pipe size will reduce the friction loss if all other factors remain the same.  If the diameters doubled,
the friction loss will be reduced by almost a factor of 1/32 likewise if the pipe diameter is tripled The friction loss
would be reduced to about 1/243 of its original value.

The Hayes-Williams formula which is empirical yields only approximate results however it is considered to be
accurate enough to be used for the calculation of fire sprinkler systems and indeed the formula is stipulated in both
NFPA 13 and EN 12845.  There are certain cases such as high pressure water mist where the use of Darcy-
Weigbach formula would be more appropriate and this is set out in NFPA 750.

Value of C for use in the Hazen-


Williams formula
Listed in the table bellow are typical values for the coefficient C, which can be used in the Hazen-Williams formula
for different fire sprinkler design standards. The value of C represents the pipes roughness with higher values of C
giving lower friction losses. The values given in the design standards allow for degradation of the pipe, for instance
new cast iron pipe has a C coefficient of 130 and EN 12845 gives the value of 100, this is equivalent to a pipe, which
is about 20 years old

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