Lighting and fixtures that can withstand harsh conditions are required in hazardous industrial environments. Lighting fixtures in hazardous areas must be better protected against corrosion, water, impact, and explosions, among other things. Let’s take a look at how lighting fixtures are protected from explosions.
Because of the explosive gases, flammable vapor, dust, and fibers in the environment, hazardous locations such as paint spray booths, oil refineries, and grain processing plants are at risk of fixture explosion. These applications frequently have limited entry and exit points. If the explosion occurs, it could cause significant damage and injury. Explosion-proof LED lights are used in such areas to improve safety and visibility. However, industrial applications are large in scale, divided into different zones, and each zone has a unique set of conditions. Hazardous locations are classified by relevant directives and certifications such as NEC, ATEX, and IECEx to provide precise and appropriate protection for fixtures in various hazardous environments.
What are explosion-proof lights?
In layman’s terms, explosion-proof LED lights are lighting fixtures that have the capability of isolating themselves from flammable substances while also preventing ignition and sparks. Explosion-proof LED lights are typically used in hazardous locations, which are areas with a high concentration of volatile or flammable gases, vapors, dust, or fiber in the air. Common hazardous industrial locations are paint booths, food processing plants, oil and gas refineries, fuel and chemical processing plants, etc. The majority of explosion-proof LED lights have rubber gaskets or are encased in thick glass. An explosion in a flammable environment can be caused by loose contact, wiring, or excessive heat. Explosion-proof lights can keep sparks and ignition from escaping from the sturdy housing.
All explosion-proof LED lights must pass the relevant certifications and tests specified for hazardous locations by official institutions or organizations such as the UL, CSA, NPFA, NEC, ATEX, IECE, and so on. The major certifications for electrical equipment in hazardous locations are NEC, ATEX, and IECEx. In North America, the NEC (National Electrical Code) is widely used. It categorizes hazardous locations by class, division, and zone. ATEX is a certification that covers devices and protective systems for use in potentially explosive environments. The European Union considers it standard practice to remove technical trade barriers.
IECEx (IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres) is an international certification that aims to ensure the highest level of safety for both equipment and people in explosive environments.
Why are explosion-proof LED lights important?
Explosion-proof LED lights are essential for ensuring safety in hazardous environments. The term “safety” refers not only to the safety of the fixtures but also to the safety of the workers and the environment. Adopting explosion-proof industrial LED lighting in industrial areas effectively reduces the risk of explosions and fixture ignitions. It also ensures worker safety. Because the explosion-proof LED lights do not react to the explosive atmosphere, the entire working environment remains safe.
Using explosion-proof lights provides adequate and safe lighting in a hazardous workplace. Ample lighting is critical because hazardous workplaces are extremely dangerous. Adequate lighting increases worker visibility. The bright and clear working environment allows workers to distinguish between their surroundings and incoming materials, avoiding mistakes and accidents.
Explosion-proof LED lighting in hazardous areas improves working performance and productivity. When lighting fixtures are safe enough, workers can focus on their work instead of worrying about the hazardous light and explosive atmosphere.
Classification of hazardous locations:
Although all of the fixtures that are typically designed for hazardous locations are referred to as “explosion-proof lights,” they are not manufactured in the same manner. The specific selection of explosion-proof lights is determined by the classification and actual condition of the hazardous locations. The classification of hazardous locations is done in two ways: the Class/Division system and the Zone system.
NEC classification and division system:
The NEC categorizes hazardous locations into different classes, divisions, and groups. This system categorizes hazardous locations based on their type, condition, and nature.
Class I: The presence of flammable gases, vapors, or liquids in the atmosphere
Class II: The presence of combustible dust in the atmosphere
Class III: The presence of easily ignitable fibers or combustible flyings in the atmosphere.
Division 1: normal hazardous operating conditions
Division 2: abnormal hazardous operating conditions
Depending on the dangerous elements that may be present in the environment, the hazardous locations are divided into different Groups within the Class system. Groups A, B, C, and D belong to Class I, while Groups E, F, and G belong to Class II.
Group A: includes Acetylene
Group B includes hydrogen, gases, and vapors.
Group C: includes ethyl-ether vapors and ethylene.
Group D: includes things like gasoline, propane, and alcohol.
Group E: metal dust
Group F: includes carbonaceous dust
Group G: includes non-conductive dust, such as plastic, wood, grain, and flour.
NEC (National Electric Code) is widely used in the USA, and the following is a tabular representation of the hazardous location classification class division group.
Understanding this hazardous location classification is critical for installing the appropriate type of explosion-proof LED lights in any hazardous industrial location. To ensure maximum safety, always purchase lights and fixtures from a reputable supplier. Maes Lighting, a Direct from Manufacturer Supplier of Commercial and Industrial Lighting based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, can provide contractors and facility managers in every industry across the United States with cost-effective lighting solutions.