Nitrous has a couple of distinct advantages when compared to other power adders. First and foremost are the upfront costs associated with purchasing and installing a system. Superchargers start around $3,500 and go up from there. A nitrous kit generally starts around $500, and even with several accessories is still just a fraction of the cost of a supercharger.
The second advantage is that, unlike a supercharger or turbo, nitrous cools the intake air. A supercharger or turbocharger compresses the incoming air, and when air is compressed it heats up. The hotter air reduces the availability of power from a cooler charge and raises operating temperatures. This is one reason why higher supercharging and turbo applications tend to gravitate towards the use of an intercooler. The cool intake charge from nitrous doesn’t suffer from this problem, helping to maximize the amount of power you’ll get.
Nitrous has one chief disadvantage when compared to other power adders, though, and that is the need to refill the bottle. How long a bottle lasts will vary, depending upon how much nitrous is being sprayed into the motor. Once it’s empty though, you’ll need to refill it. The average price varies from location to location, so you’ll generally find prices of around $30-50 for a bottle refill. You’ll want to plan ahead when looking for a nitrous system, and have a location picked out for getting your bottle filled at. Keep in mind, you’ll need to get the bottle filled before installing, as nitrous bottles are shipped empty.
Nitrous is certainly one of the best options when comparing horsepower to dollars spent. It has suffered many misconceptions about how dangerous it is for the motor. If used correctly, however, nitrous is no more detrimental on your engine than any other power adder. In fact, nitrous is actually less detrimental, because when you’re not using it, the engine is operating under the exact same conditions as it was before the nitrous kit was installed. In the end, if you’re looking for cheap power, nitrous is always going to be an attractive option.