Here at Sweitzer Performance, we sell and install all kinds of Nitrous Oxide systems for almost any application you can imagine. We also fill bottles for customers on a daily basis. As such, we get asked a whole miriad of questions about the mysterious "giggle gas."
We believe nitrous oxide gets a bad rap because of misinformation, so we've laid out the answers to some of the most common questions we get. This should definitely shed some light on the myths and rumors you may hear about Nitrous. (No, it's not called NOS)
Q: How does nitrous oxide work?
Nitrous Oxide is what you would call "Chemical Forced Induction." This is to say that while a supercharger or turbocharger mechanically forces more oxygen into the combustion chamber, Nitrous Oxide does it chemically. Each N20 Molecule contains 2 Nitrogen atoms, and a single oxygen atom. The oxygen is what we care about. This additional oxygen allows you to in turn add more fuel to the combustion mix, and make more horsepower. I.E. nitrous oxide doesn't give you horsepower by itself. The ADDITIONAL fuel it allows you to burn is what gives you horsepower.
Q: Is nitrous bad for my engine?
You've watched The Fast and the Furious too many times. Nitrous oxide, when installed, tuned, and used properly will not sacrifice durability or reliability.
Q: Why should I use nitrous rather than a turbocharger or supercharger?
Cost and Ease of use are the two biggest reasons to use Nitrous. A typical nitrous system costs less then half of a typical turbocharger or supercharger system, and used properly can give you the same or more horsepower.
Q: Can I use nitrous in conjunction with turbo or supercharger system?
The short answer is yes you can. Boosted applications usually require your nitrous system to be set up differently, so give us a shout with any questions.
Q: What is a 100, 200, 300 shot?
Your Nitrous "Shot" is the simple way to refer to how much power your set up is producing. a"100 Shot" refers to 100hp worth of nitrous. Depending on the kit manufacturer, this spec could refer to rear-wheel horsepower or crank horsepower.
Q: What is "jetting"
Jetting refers to the small orifice installed in your nitrous plate or nozzle that dictates how much nitrous or fuel can flow through it.
Q: What is the difference between WET and DRY systems and which is better?
A wet system refers to a nitrous system that includes it's own fuel enrichment system. (Remember nitrous doesn't make more power, the extra fuel does) A dry system uses either the vehicles tune, Carb jetting, or gives a spike to the vehicles fuel pressure to add extra fuel on the nitrous. Generally speaking, a wet system is easier to tune, but a dry system set up properly can produce just as much horsepower.
Q: Is nitrous oxide flammable?
No. Nitrous Oxide is an "oxidizer" meaning that if a fire is present, nitrous will make that fire burn hotter and more rapidly.
Q: Does medical grade nitrous oxide give more of a performance increase?
No, the only difference between medical grade and automotive grade nitrous oxide is that the automotive grade has a minimal amount of sulfur dioxide added in order to deter substance abuse. Sulfur dioxide does not affect performance.
Q: Does nitrous oxide increase cylinder temperatures and pressures?
Yes, because nitrous oxide allows for more fuel combustion.
Q: Do I need to modify my fuel system in order to use nitrous oxide?
Most sports car factory fuel pumps can handle a small nitrous shot (75 hp or less.) For larger shots, we recommend upgrading the fuel pump and sometimes running a dedicated nitrous fuel system to supply the required additional fuel.
Q: What is a dedicated fuel system?
A dedicated fuel system is a fuel system that is separate from the main fuel system that feeds your motor and provides fuel for your nitrous system. A dedicated fuel system usually holds anywhere from 1/2 a gallon to 3 gallons of fuel and is mounted in the trunk or engine bay of a vehicle. In addition the dedicated fuel cell has its own fuel pump and regulator separate from the main fuel system.
Q: Do I need a purge kit?
Purge systems are used for two things. The first and most obvious is to purge your nitrous lines of air and vapor to make your nitrous hit immediate. The second use for a purge system is to bring the bottle pressure down to the same pressure each and every time you hit the button. (This is especially important in drag racing applications where consistency is of the utmost importance. A purge system isn't absolutely necessary for your nitrous system to work, but we always recommend one for proper nitrous use.
Q: How much do nitrous refills cost?
Nitrous refills are 6.50 a pound, ($70.20 for a 10 pound bottle after tax)
Q: Where can I get my nitrous bottle refilled?
Right here at Sweitzer Performance!
Q: Is a nitrous system the biggest bang for my buck?
Yes, no other system in the world provides the amount of horsepower per dollar.
Q: How do I know how much nitrous I have left in the bottle?
The most accurate way to find out, is to weigh the bottle and see how many pounds are left. For example a 10 pound bottle weighs 14.5 empty and 24.5 pounds when it is full, so if your bottle weighs 19.5 pounds your bottle is half full.
Q: Should I change my ignition system?
The majority of late model vehicles have ignition systems that are well suited for nitrous applications. In higher HP applications it is recommended to look into a higher quality ignition system.
Q: Why doesn't everyone use nitrous?
Nitrous systems are not for everyone, some people prefer other methods of gaining power or use their vehicle for other driving styles.
How much performance improvement can I expect from a nitrous system?
Depends on endless amounts of variables, but most customers will typically see a 1 - 2 second improvement in quarter-mile times sometimes more sometimes less depending on the size of the shot.