Do you need explosion proof lighting when you work?
For businesses operating in hazardous environments, equipment and employees are always at risk of a potential explosion if safety measures are not implemented accurately. Therefore, lighting is an integral part of any business and it is critical to understand how explosion proof lighting works in hazardous environments. Additionally, the use of explosion proof lighting is a necessity for any company operating in hazardous areas. The risk of explosions caused by hazardous gases such as propane and methane can be reduced by using explosion-proof lighting.
You will find some industries such as oil refineries, chemical plants, food processing industries and mines use explosion proof lighting. Also, standard lighting cannot overcome unique challenges when operating in hazardous areas.
Explosion-Proof Lighting Defined
“Explosion proof” does not mean that the luminaire will survive an explosion or fire intact. Instead, it means that the design of this lamp contains sparks that would otherwise start a fire or explosion in a confined space.
This lighting unit is housed in a thick frame with extremely robust lenses. In addition, such enclosures can create blockages between sparks and other ignition sources, such as flammable dust, fibers, or vapors that may be present in the environment where the luminaire is installed. Thicker lenses and frames with complex blocking contribute to longer lasting and stronger lighting fixtures.
Due to the robust design of explosion-proof lighting fixtures, the risk of explosion and ignition is extremely low. Therefore, lighting also significantly increases the safety of employees working in hazardous locations.
The main benefit of using explosion-proof LED lights is energy savings compared to traditional lighting. Specifically, explosion-proof LED lights typically use 90% less energy than standard light fixtures. The durability of these lights means they will continue to work at their original lighting levels for about 50,000 hours. In some cases, they can even last 100,000 hours despite continuous use. Durability and better efficiency reduce maintenance and operating costs.
Installing explosion-proof lighting prevents flammable gases and vapors from igniting in an enclosed environment, thereby reducing the risk of explosion. What’s more, the National Electric Code (NEC), published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), requires all lighting equipment used in hazardous locations to be explosion-proof.
Below are Explosion-Proof classifications specifying the environmental and 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 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 that do not have combustible by-products during normal operations. However, 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 instance, aerosol sprays used in commercial or residential areas might have flammable gases, but they are still considered low risk to cause an explosion.
EXPLOSION PROOF LIGHTS: UNDERSTANDING CLASS AND DIVISION
Safety is a major concern when it comes to underground utility equipment, and lighting is no exception. OSHA requires explosion proof lights for use in hazardous locations, such as areas containing flammable vapors, liquids, or gases, or areas with combustible dust or fibers. It is these types of environments that contribute to the classification and classification of explosion proof lamps.
Class and Division Explained
There are three classes of explosion proof lights, known as Class I, Class II, and Class III. These are the broadest sense in which explosion proof lights are distinguished from each other. The classes are then each broken down further into two separate divisions.
The three classes and their corresponding divisions:
Class I, Division 1 – Where ignitable concentrations of flammable gases, vapors or liquids are present continuously or frequently within the atmosphere under normal operation conditions.
Class I, Division 2 – Where ignitable concentrations of flammable gases, vapors, or liquids are present within the atmosphere under abnormal operating conditions.
Class II, Division 1 – Where ignitable concentrations of combustible dusts are present within the atmosphere under normal operation conditions.
Class II, Division 2 – Where ignitable concentrations of combustible dust are present within the atmosphere under abnormal operating conditions.
Class III, Division 1 – Where easily ignitable fibers or materials producing combustible flyings are present within the atmosphere under normal operation conditions.
Class III, Division 2 – Where easily ignitable fibers or materials producing combustible flyings are present within the atmosphere under abnormal operating conditions.
Requirements for Explosion Proof Lighting
When it comes to lighting, there are a few things worth knowing to ensure you get the right option for your location. For instance, explosion proof lighting is a solution commonly used in areas where hazardous gases or high heat temperatures are present regularly. While this is the only suitable lighting solution for certain types of locations, there is still some confusion regarding requirements for explosion proof lighting. Let’s take a closer look at the matter to clear up any misunderstanding regarding this type of fixture.
What is explosion proof lighting?
Before we look at the requirements for explosion proof lighting, we should cover what it is, not in more detail. Many people think of explosion proof lighting as lighting that is used where hazardous materials are present, lighting that survives an actual explosion, but it has nothing to do with that. Explosion proof lighting is a type of luminaire that can be exposed to certain elements, such as chemicals, gases, or high heat, which is designed to prevent the luminaire itself from exploding when exposed to these harsh conditions and environments. This feature is important because if the device explodes, the glass won’t fly around.
What are the different classes?
Different areas may have different requirements for explosion proof lighting. There are several classes the fixture type can be classified as and finding the right one for your application will depend on these classes.
These are the requirement for explosion proof lighting:
Class I, Division 1 – An area where flammable concentrations of gases, vapors or liquids are present continuously or regularly within the atmosphere under normal operating conditions.
Class I, Division 2 – An area where flammable concentrations of gases, vapors, or liquids exist within the atmosphere under abnormal operating conditions.
Class II, Division 1 – An area where flammable concentrations of combustible dust exist within the atmosphere under normal operating conditions.
Class II, Division 2 – An area where flammable concentrations of combustible dust exist within the atmosphere under abnormal operating conditions.
Class III, Division 1 – An area where easily flammable fibers or materials producing combustible residue or shavings exists within the atmosphere under normal operating conditions.
Class III, Division 2 – An area where easily flammable fibers or materials producing combustible residue or shavings exist within the atmosphere under abnormal operating conditions.
Lighting is an integral part of any business activity. And for any business operating in classified and hazardous environments, it is important to use explosion-proof lighting. These harsh and hazardous environments can contain explosive gases and vapours that can increase the risk of explosion if proper precautions are not taken. Also known as “hazardous location lighting,” explosion-proof lights are designed for use where flammable and explosive gases such as hydrogen, methane, propane, and other hydrocarbons are present. Working in confined spaces or areas exposed to such conditions can be very dangerous, so this lighting is essential for the safety of workers and businesses in these locations.
What makes these lights unique?
Standard lighting cannot overcome the unique challenges of confined spaces such as tanks, vents, pipes, sewers, tankers and manholes. These lamps pose an explosion risk because they can ignite flammable gas and vapor particles that can cause an explosive chain reaction or fire. The oil, gas and petrochemical industries, in particular, are prone to such accidents when using conventional lighting, as their switches and relays are prone to sparks during operation.
In such an environment, explosion-proof lights can come in handy. These lights are designed with a safe housing material, usually copper-free aluminum, to isolate potential spark triggers. They are also equipped with extremely durable lenses that can withstand harsh working conditions and prevent cracks from developing. With the continuous development of LED technology, explosion-proof LED lamps have become a strong competitor to traditional fluorescent lamps and HID lamps due to their high efficiency and low operating costs. All in all, this is why explosion proof LED lights are a fixture that not only saves businesses from accidents, but also unnecessary maintenance and energy costs.
- Explosion Proof Design
Standard light fixtures typically consist of designs that expose bulbs, contacts, wiring, and switches. Therefore, sparks from loose switch contacts or switch movement, or even heat from a light bulb, can be enough to ignite a flammable environment. However, in the case of explosion proof lamps, the components are enclosed to prevent potential sparks or flames from the inner enclosure.
- Durable & Tough
Considering the robust construction and stronger materials of explosion proof luminaires, they offer a high degree of durability compared to standard luminaires as they can withstand harsher working environments. This makes them a better choice for operators as it is not as prone to damage as standard fixtures and will reduce maintenance and polishing costs.
- Allows Greater Mobility
The explosion-proof LED light adopts a sturdy frame and thick tempered glass lens, which makes it have strong anti-vibration performance. This durable design allows these lights to be transported from one place to another by a forklift or other machine without the risk of damage or failure, making them more portable. This feature makes it ideal for operators who require mobile lighting.
- High Efficiency
Explosion proof LED lights are very energy efficient. They use more than 90 percent of their energy to produce light with virtually zero heat or conversion losses, meaning they use far less energy. Organizations can save on-site energy from portable generators and other on-site energy sources, providing more sustainable and profitable operations. In other words, using explosion-proof LEDs can provide the same or better light output than existing explosion-proof lamps, resulting in cost savings.
- Flexible Options
Modern explosion proof LED lights offer a modular design and a variety of mounting options, allowing for a variety of options in their application. They allow light output to be easily increased or decreased to match desired light levels or accommodate existing access points while saving energy and money.
Why do you need them?In conclusion, installing explosion-proof lighting fixtures greatly reduces the risk of explosions by preventing flammable gases and vapors from igniting in an enclosed environment. What’s more, the National Electric Code (NEC), issued by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), requires that all lighting equipment used in hazardous locations must be explosion-proof.