How Does Explosion Proof Lighting Work?

- Feb 22, 2021-

How Does Explosion Proof Lighting Work?

Explosion proof lighting systems are designed to keep workers inside combustible environments safe, through safety features that deter interactions with flammable compounds. This type of protection is critical for lights inside busy work sites, as lights are typically left on for long periods of time. Additionally, illumination is essential in maintaining productive output inside workplaces. Explosion proof protection not only doubles down on safety at the site; it also reduces the onset of premature failure for lamps.

Explosion Proof Design

There are several explosion proof principles at work inside explosion proof lighting units. First, non-sparking materials are applied to prevent the creation of sparks that may arise from increased heat or physical contact with the lamps. Next, this type of heavy-duty light may incorporate rugged enclosures to contain ignitions and protect the device from elements that may compromise its explosion proof features, such as water and corrosion. Superior materials used to manufacture explosion proof lights include: copper-free aluminum, polycarbonate, tough plastic, polyamide and more.

In the event an ignition occurs inside an explosion proof light, it is carefully mitigated by extended flame paths that cool hot gases and sparks to safe levels. Contrary to popular belief, the term explosion proof does not refer to withstanding external combustions. Instead, it is a set of features that prevent ignitions from spreading at the hazardous location. Wirings for explosion proof lights can be fed through conduit systems, in order to isolate the electrical components from the combustible environment.

Types of Explosion Proof Lights

Explosion proof lighting systems come in many forms. For general illumination inside hazardous sites, explosion proof high bay or linear lamps are commonly used. Control stations, traffic systems and large machines may incorporate explosion proof pilot lights, task lights or strobe lamps. Portable illumination could be facilitated by explosion proof drop lights, flashlights or magnetic-mount floodlights. Remote combustible locations could benefit from explosion proof light towers, as well as explosion proof, solar-powered lights.

Due to the wide range of applications associated with explosion proof lighting, the units are commonly found in the following locations: oil and gas sites, chemical processing, manufacturing, extraction rooms, aerospace, shipyards, confined spaces, mining sites, battery storage facilities, agricultural projects, labs, forensics, grain storage and more.

Explosion Proof Classifications and Ratings

Explosion proof lights are classified, based on guidelines published by the National Electric Code (NEC). The scope of classifications includes: Class I, II and III. Each classification can be further broken down into Division 1 (flammable environments where explosive substances are always present) and/or Division 2 (combustible environments where flammable materials are only present during emergencies or abnormal operating conditions). Explosion proof groups can be applied to associate specific flammable materials with explosion proof lights.

Furthermore, explosion proof lights may take on specific temperature ratings to prevent setting off flammable materials sensitive to high temperatures. This aspect of explosion proof protection is very important in Class II sites, wherein combustible dust has a tendency to accumulate on the surface of explosion proof lamps.

As NEC guidelines are applicable to the US, combustible sites in international locations must adhere to other (local) standards for explosion proof lights. An example of global safety standards for flameproof lighting is ATEX/IECEx.