For a business that operates in hazardous environments, Equipment and Employees are constantly exposed to the threat of potential explosions that may occur if safety precautions are not implemented properly. Lighting is an integral part of any business. And any business that operates in classified and hazardous environments, it is important to use explosion proof lighting. The risks of explosion because of dangerous gases like Propane and Methane is significantly reduced. Explosion proof lighting is used in several sectors including oil refineries, chemical plants, food processing industries and mines.
Standard lighting falls short of overcoming the unique challenges when operating in hazardous areas.
Explosion proof lighting defined
The designation ‘explosion proof’ doesn’t mean that the lighting fixture will survive explosions or fires fully intact. What it means is that the light is designed in such a way that it can contain sparks that would otherwise cause fire or explosion in confined spaces.
The lighting fixture is encased in a thick frame with extremely robust lenses. The fixture creates a pathway between sparks and other sources of ignition like flammable dust, fibers or vapors that might exist in the environment where light fixture is installed. Thicker lenses and frames with complex pathways contribute to a more durable and stronger fixture.
Due to the robust design of explosion proof lighting fixtures, the risk of explosions and ignitions occurring are extremely low. Thus, this greatly improves the safety of employees working in hazardous locations as well.
A major benefit of explosion proof LED lights over traditional lighting is that they are more energy efficient. An explosion proof LED light typically consumes 90 percent less energy that a normal fixture. The durability of these lights means that they’ll continue to work at their original level of illumination for about 50,000 hours. In some cases, they even last 100,000 hours despite of continuous use. Durability and better efficiency reduces maintenance and operating costs.
Installing explosion proof lighting reduces the risk of explosions significantly by stopping the ignition of flammable gases and vapors in the enclosed environment. More importantly, the National Electric Code or the NEC, which is published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) mandates that all lighting equipment used in hazardous locations need to be explosion-proof.
Below are different explosion proof classifications which depend on environmental and specific safety hazard requirements.
Class I, Division 1 area encompasses the combination of Zone 0 and Zone 1 areas.
Zone 0 locations of high concentrations of combustible gases, vapors, dust or liquids always present for long periods of time during operations.
Zone 1 locations might have combustible gases, vapors, dust or liquids present at any time during normal operations.
Class I, Division 2 or Zone 2 are locations which normally do not have combustible by-products during normal operations and concentrations might be present under abnormal conditions, such as sudden leaks. As a general guide, those abnormal conditions should not exceed 10 hours a year.
Non-hazardous or Unclassified locations are classified as neither Class I, Division 1 or Division 2, Zone 0, Zone 1 or Zone 2, or any combination. For example, the use of aerosol sprays in commercial or residential areas. Aerosol sprays might have flammable gases but they are still considered the very low risk of causing an explosion.