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Explosion Proof/Hazardous Area Lighting Questions | FAQ & Answers

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Professionally Reviewed by:
Peter Kohlert, PE
Professional Engineer

The goal of is to inform readers about the various benefits associated with using high quality commercial-grade lighting products. Our team of experienced lighting specialists and professional engineers are dedicated to providing high quality informative content. The information on this page and other areas of the website is routinely updated, fact checked, and approved by our team of professional editors and engineers. If you find any errors, let us know and we will review the information immediately.

Welcome to our explosion proof lighting FAQ page. This page answers some of the most common explosion proof / hazardous area lighting questions that we see and hear as industrial LED lighting experts with years of experience.

It’s important to note that information within this page can help guide someone in the right direction; however, this is not a substitute for professional advice. If you have questions relating to explosion proof lighting, such as how to buy the right fixtures or how to wire them within your facility, it’s important to speak with an LED lighting engineer or certified electrician.

Explosion-proof lights are a specialized type of lighting designed for use in hazardous locations where flammable gasses, vapors, or dusts are present. These can include places like oil refineries, chemical plants, fueling stations, coal mines, and various manufacturing facilities.

Hazardous area lights, sometimes also referred to as hazardous location lights or hazloc lighting, are designed to be used in environments where there is a risk of explosions or fires due to the presence of flammable gasses, vapors, dust, or fibers. These environments include oil and gas refineries, chemical plants, mining sites, grain storage facilities, and many other industrial settings.

Explosion-proof lights fall under the broader category of hazardous area lights. Specifically, explosion-proof lighting is designed to contain any sparks or explosions that occur within the fixture itself, preventing them from igniting flammable materials in the surrounding environment. This is achieved through the use of robust, often cast metal enclosures and design features that cool escaping gasses below their ignition temperature.

So, while all explosion-proof lights are hazardous area lights, not all hazardous area lights are necessarily explosion-proof. There are other types of hazardous area lighting, such as intrinsically safe lights, which are designed to limit electrical and thermal energy output to a level below what might ignite specific hazardous atmospheres.

The term “explosion-proof” does not mean that the lights are impervious to damage from an external explosion. Rather, it means that they are designed to prevent any sparks or explosions that originate within the fixture from escaping and igniting the surrounding flammable atmosphere.

Explosion proof lighting fixtures are made of robust materials like cast metal that can contain an internal explosion. In addition, any openings or gaps are designed to be long and narrow, which can cool any escaping hot gasses below their ignition temperature as they pass through, preventing them from triggering an explosion in the external environment. These lights are subject to strict regulatory standards and testing to ensure they can safely operate in hazardous environments.

Standards are typically set by organizations such as the National Electrical Code (NEC) in the United States, or the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) in Europe, and others depending on the region. Other organizations that set explosion proof lighting standards include,

  • National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA): NEMA is a U.S.-based organization that sets standards for various types of electrical equipment, including explosion-proof lighting.
  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL): UL is a global safety certification company that sets standards and provides testing for a wide range of products, including explosion-proof lighting. In the U.S., UL Standard 844 covers luminaires for use in hazardous locations.
  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC): The IEC is an international standards organization that prepares and publishes standards for electrical, electronic, and related technologies. Their standards, including the IECEx system, cover explosion-proof equipment.
  • ATEX Directive (European Union): The ATEX Directive sets forth requirements for equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres in the European Union.
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): The NFPA publishes the National Electrical Code (NEC), which includes guidelines for installing electrical equipment in hazardous locations in the U.S.
  • Canadian Standards Association (CSA): In Canada, the CSA sets the standards for explosion-proof lighting.

Each of these organizations has their own set of regulations, codes, and certifications for explosion-proof lighting to ensure safety in hazardous environments. Depending on the specific location and application, different standards may apply.

Explosion-proof LED lighting provides several advantages, particularly in hazardous environments where there’s a risk of flammable gasses, vapors, or dust. Here are a few reasons why you should consider using explosion-proof LED lighting:

Safety: These fixtures are specifically designed to contain and isolate potential ignition sources, thereby preventing the ignition of the flammable atmosphere in the surrounding environment. This significantly reduces the risk of explosions.

Energy Efficiency: LEDs consume less power than traditional lighting solutions like incandescent or fluorescent lights, which can lead to significant energy savings over time.

Longevity: LEDs have a long lifespan, typically between 25,000 to 100,000 hours of operation. This means they need to be replaced less often, reducing maintenance costs and downtime.

Durability: Explosion-proof LED lights are typically made with rugged materials to withstand harsh conditions. They’re resistant to shock and vibration, which is beneficial in industrial settings.

Brightness and Light Quality: LEDs provide bright, high-quality light, which is crucial for ensuring safe working conditions in hazardous areas. They also have the ability to reach full brightness instantly.

Eco-Friendly: LEDs are more eco-friendly than many traditional light sources, as they contain no toxic elements such as mercury, emit less CO2, and because of their longer lifespan, result in less waste.

Cost-Efficiency: Although the upfront cost of explosion-proof LED lights might be higher, their long lifespan and energy efficiency can lead to lower overall costs in the long term.

Given these advantages, explosion-proof LED lighting is an excellent choice for industries such as oil and gas, chemical manufacturing, mining, and others where hazardous conditions may exist.

Explosion-proof lights are typically constructed with materials that are sturdy and resilient enough to withstand high-pressure scenarios and potentially explosive environments. These materials often include cast metals like aluminum and stainless steel. Aluminum is a common choice because it is lightweight, resistant to corrosion, and able to withstand high temperatures. It’s also a good conductor of heat, which helps keep the fixture cool. Stainless steel is another frequently used material due to its strength, durability, and resistance to corrosion and heat. Stainless steel is particularly used in environments where the material may be exposed to corrosive substances.

Explosion proof lighting is required in areas classified as hazardous due to the presence of flammable gasses, vapors, dust, or fibers. This can include industries like oil and gas, mining, chemical plants, and certain manufacturing processes. The lighting is necessary to prevent ignition of these materials, ensuring safety in the workplace.

Explosion proof lighting is commonly required in environments where flammable gasses, dust, or vapors are present. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Oil and Gas Industries: Refineries, drilling rigs, and offshore platforms.
  • Chemical Plants: Areas where volatile chemicals are processed or stored.
  • Mining Operations: Underground spaces where explosive gasses like methane could accumulate.
  • Power Plants: Particularly in coal-handling and processing sections.
  • Grain Storage and Processing Facilities: Silos and mills where combustible dust is often present.
  • Paint and Varnish Manufacturing Plants: Spaces where flammable solvents are used.
  • Fuel Storage Facilities: Including gas stations and other fuel dispensing areas.
  • Sewage Treatment Plants: Methane and other gasses can be present.
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: Certain processes may involve volatile compounds.

Each of these areas may require different types of explosion proof lighting, depending on the specific hazards present and the classification of the environment.

The cost of explosion-proof lighting fixtures can vary depending on several factors, including the type of fixture, the level of explosion protection required, the materials used in construction, and the manufacturer. As a general estimate, basic explosion-proof lighting fixtures can start at around $100, while more advanced and durable fixtures can cost several hundred or even thousands of dollars. Generally speaking, if you find an explosion proof lighting fixture that’s under $400, it’s unlikely that this fixture is properly certified to withstand hazardous environments.

The explosion proof lighting fixtures at our store range from $435 up to $1,436 depending on the style, power, and environment where the fixture needs to operate in.

In the context of explosion-proof lighting, classes and divisions are part of a classification system primarily used in North America, defined by the National Electric Code (NEC) to identify the level of risk in different hazardous environments. They are critical in determining the correct type of lighting for a specific setting. Classes define the type of hazardous material present in the atmosphere while divisions define the conditions under which these hazardous materials are present.

Class I Division 1 (C1D1) lights are necessary in areas where concentrations of vapors, liquids, or gasses such as gasoline exist within the environment under typical operating conditions.

Class I Division 2 (C1D2) lights are necessary in areas where concentrations of vapors, liquids, or gasses such as gasoline exist within the environment under atypical operating conditions.

Class II Division 1 lights are necessary in areas where combustible dust such as coal exists within the environment under typical operating conditions.

Class II Division 2 lights are necessary in areas where combustible dust such as coal exists within the environment under atypical operating conditions.

Class III Division 1 lights are necessary in areas where ignitable fibers or combustible flyings such as sawdust exist within the environment under typical operating conditions.

Class III Division 2 lights are necessary in areas where ignitable fibers or combustible flyings such as sawdust exist within the environment under atypical operating conditions.

The explosion proof lighting zone system is used primarily outside North America in areas such as Europe. Similar to the class and division system, the zone classification system is used in hazardous environments to indicate the type of lighting fixtures that can be used safely. This system is based on the potential for explosive gasses or dust to be present in a particular area.

In this system, hazardous environments are divided into zones based on the likelihood and frequency of the presence of explosive gasses or dust. The three main zones are: Zone 0, Zone 1, and Zone 2

Zone 0 lighting refers to lighting fixtures specifically designed and certified for use in Zone 0 hazardous areas. These are locations where an explosive gas atmosphere is present continuously, for long periods of time, or frequently.

Zone 1 lighting refers to lighting equipment specifically designed and certified for use in Zone 1 hazardous environments. These are areas where an explosive gas atmosphere is likely to occur in normal operation occasionally.

Zone 2 lighting refers to lighting fixtures that are specifically designed and certified for use in Zone 2 hazardous areas. In these areas, an explosive gas atmosphere is not likely to occur in normal operation but, if it does occur, it will persist for a short period only.