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ATEX and IEC Ex Flame-proof Explosion Proof Lighting & Equipment
Explosion Proof Lights
Explosion Proof Motors - Motors for Hazardous Locations
Industrial and Vaporproof Emergency Failsafe Lighting
Industrial Cord Reels and Tool Taps
Industrial Work Area Heaters
Machine Vision Lights
QC Series Industrial Portable Lighting - Quick Change Mount
Rig Lights
Stadium lights
String Lights and Temporary Light Stringers
Tank Cleaning Lights
Three Phase Motor Soft Starters
Vapor Proof LED Lights
Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)
Vehicle Mounting Plates
Workboat Light Fixtures & Lighting Equipment
Yacht Engine Room Lights
Color Changing LED RGB Lighting
Explosion Proof Cord Reels
GOLIGHT Spotlights
Larson FUTURE - Lease Lighting
Remote Area Lighting and Scene Lights
Utility Bucket Mount, Receiver Hitch & Trailer Mount Lighting
Aevum Control Lighting and Equipment - IIoT
Butane and Solvent Extraction Room Lighting and Equipment
DC to DC Transformers and Power Supplies
Explosion Proof Fans & Blowers
Explosion Proof Paint Spray Booth Approved Lights
Explosion Proof String Lights
Explosion Proof Switchgear & Controls
Fleet Service Lights and Lighting Equipment
Industrial Equipment Trailers
Industrial Handlamps & Droplights
ISO 14644/FS-209E Clean Room Lighting
LED Blasting Lights
Night Time Fishing Lights
Portable AC Power Supply Units
Portable Power Distribution Panels
Power Distribution Panels with KVA Transformers
Self-Contained Lighting
Service Pit Lighting
Solar Generators & Solar Powered Lighting
Agricultural Farm Equipment Lighting & Beacons
Explosion Proof Cameras & Surveillance Systems
Explosion Proof Emergency Lights
Explosion Proof Heaters
Garage & Gas Station Canopy Lights
LED Grow Lights
LED Lights
NDT Ultraviolet Lights
Portable Hazardous Location Lighting
Radio Communication Towers and Equipment
Salt Water Processing Equipment
Shelter & Tent Lighting
Thermal Monitoring Cameras and Systems
48V LED Equipment Lights
ATEX Rated Explosion Proof Lights
Automotive Lighting
Class Rated Signals, Alarms, and Systems
Hazardous Location Area Lights and Portable Lighting
HID Equipment Lights
Hot Work Permit Lighting and Equipment
Hunting Lights
Industrial lasers
Industrial Transformers
Light Towers
Outdoor Lighting
Remote Security and Surveillance Systems
Temporary Construction Lights
Vehicle Mounted Spotlights
Equipment & Heavy Machinery LED Light Package Fitouts
Phase Converters - Single to Three Phase
Marine Shore Power Cords and Equipment
24 Volt Military Lights
Disaster Relief / First Responders / Search & Rescue Lighting
Plastic Handcuff Key
110/120 Volt Flood Lights
Post Mount Spotlights
Magnetic Work Lights
Crank-up Light Masts
Intrinsically Safe Lights
Military Flashlights
LED Waterproof Lanterns
Work Area Lights
12 Volt Flood Lights
Boat Spotlights
New Boat Lights
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Remote Control Lights
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Tow Lights
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NEW Lights and New Products
Evaporative Coolers
Police Equipment
AC/DC Transformers
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Military Spotlights 24V
Infrared Filters, Covert Covers, and Blackout IR Lenses
Military Equipment
Ultralife Batteries
Remote Control Pan Tilt Base
Larson Electronics Spotlights
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Replacement Lamps
Cords - Brackets
Portable Wheeled Generators
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HID Work Lights
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Powerlight Flashlight
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Xenon Flashlights
LED Status Lights
Forklift Lights
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Gifts For Men
New 12 / 24 Volt Lights
Explosion Proof Accessories and Replacement Parts
Explosion Proof Lighting
Explosion Proof Hand Lamps (Drop Lights)
Explosion Proof Lights - Stand/Dolly
Explosion Proof Tank Lights
Explosion Proof Phones and Intercoms
Explosion Proof Extension Cords
Black Friday & Cyber Monday Specials
Crane Lights
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General Light Rentals
Light Tower and Light Plant Rentals
Power Distribution Rentals
Power Plant Lighting
Refinery lights
Environmental Services Lights
Aerospace Lights
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Food Grade Safe Lights
Film and Entertainment Lights
Handheld Meters and Devices
Waste Water Treatment Lights
Mining Lights
Ship Yard Lights
Work Site Lighting

06/28/10 Explosion Proof and Intrinsically Safe: There is a Difference

When it comes to explosion proof lighting many people have trouble understanding exactly what the term means. Factor in that there is also the term “intrinsically safe light” which is related to explosion proof lighting, and the fact that few people have had the benefit of a good layman explanation of the terms, and it becomes clear that there is plenty of room for confusion. A clear explanation of the terms is important to understanding what these terms mean and here we will try to provide that explanation in order to clear up some of the confusion.

To begin with we need to talk in generalities and give a brief description of what explosion proof lights are used for. Explosion proof lights are special lamps constructed specifically for use in volatile environments, or more accurately termed “Hazardous Locations”. The definition of a hazardous location is determined by regulating bodies for a given region such as the National Electrical Code as carried by OSHA in the United States. Hazardous location refers to areas where there is a high enough concentration of volatile or combustible substances in the air to present a high danger of fires or explosions. These substances need not be only vapors or fumes from volatile fuels or solvents like gasoline or paint thinner, they can also be fine particles such as dusts like flour or sawdust. The high danger of fires and explosions that these substances present has resulted in laws that require workers to use equipment specially designed to reduce and prevent the chances of igniting these materials which could cause catastrophic combustion. 

Any electrical equipment that is going to be operated in a hazardous location presents a possible ignition source. Everything from switches to electric motors are capable of producing sparks or electrical arcing that can ignite flammable substances if they come into contact with them. The most commonly present electrical equipment in hazardous locations is lighting and any lighting to be used in these locations must be designed to prevent the chances of inadvertent ignition. For use in hazardous locations there are two basic choices for electrical illumination, the intrinsically safe light, or the explosion proof light. Although both can be used in hazardous locations, the design behind these lights is based on different principals with explosion proof lights being designed to contain an ignition within the light itself, while intrinsically safe lights care incapable of providing enough electrical energy to create a spark or heat that could act as an ignition source.

Explosion proof lights are designed to be extremely durable. Lights like the Larson Electronics EPL-PM-1X300-100 are designed to actually contain an explosion within their housings which as you can imagine is no minor feat. The body is made out of heavy cast aluminum alloy that contains no copper to prevent sparks from impacts, with oil and abrasion resistant electrical cord that has an explosion proof connector at its end. It’s water resistant and can be used in wet conditions and is suitable for use in marine environments and the lamp is a 300 watt halogen to provide bright illumination while keeping heat to acceptable levels. This is important as halogen lamps over 400 watts produce a great deal of heat and any explosion proof rated halogen lamp that operates over 400 watts must be designed with further considerations for managing this heat.

Just because a lamp is explosion proof certified however does not mean it is acceptable for use in all hazardous locations. Explosion proof lamps have to be certified explosion proof by a sanctioning body like Underwiters Laboratories and are rated according to the type of hazardous location they will be operated in. These classifications consist of a Class, Division, Groups and Zones and each is based on a specific set of criteria determined by the types of hazardous materials and conditions that may be present. This means that a light must approved according to these classifications and a light used outside of its classification will not adhere to the proper regulations even if it is rated explosion proof. For example the Larson Electronics EPL-PM-1X300-100 mentioned above is rated Class-1, Division-1, Group-D. This means that this light is suitable for all classes and divisions lower than 1 but not groups higher than D.

The confusion between explosion proof lights and intrinsically safe lights arises mainly from the assumptions as to what these lights are intended to do. Since the light is called “explosion proof”, the first assumption is that the lamp is incapable of causing an explosion. This is an erroneous assumption as the light is indeed capable of causing an explosion. It earns an explosion proof rating because it is capable of containing an explosion within itself, preventing that explosion from escaping at temperature levels that could ignite substances present in the atmosphere outside of the lights housing. So while an explosion proof light may not be airtight and perfectly sealed, it is designed to contain an explosion long enough to allow the escaping heated gases and material from that explosion to cool below temperatures capable of causing ignition. Many explosion proof lights accomplish this through the use of fine threads when joining the parts of the lamps assembly together. These threads create a long channel that escaping gases must travel along before they can exit the lamps housing. By the time they finish traveling along these channels and escape from the units housing, these gases have cooled to a temperature that is well below that required to ignite flammable materials.

Intrinsically safe lights are different, in that as well as being constructed of materials that are incapable of or resist creating sparks, they are also sealed and do not operate on enough current to produce sources of ignition. A good example would be an intrinsically safe LED flashlight. A flashlight like this operates on low amperage batteries and the LED lamp uses very little electrical current to produce light, resulting in very little heat and too little energy to create ignition should it be exposed to a volatile atmosphere.

These are just the basics of explosion proof and intrinsically safe lighting. There is a great deal more involved and choosing the right lamps for your application will require a more in-depth understanding of all the ratings and classifications that are related. Larson Electronics provides additional information about these ratings on its website and you are encouraged to read it through in order to fully understand how these classifications work and how they apply to electrical equipment.

Related Categories/Products
Category/Product (click on link below for more information)
Intrinsically Safe Lights
Intrinsically Safe Lights
Explosion Proof Lights
Explosion Proof Tank Lights
Tank Cleaning Lights
Explosion Proof Light - Portable Cart - 24 Inch - 400 Watt Metal Halide - Class 1 & Class 2 Div 1
Explosion Proof Light - Waterproof Fluorescent Light Fixture - Paint Spray Booth, Rigs - 4 foot, 2 l
Explosion Proof Light - Quadpod Mount - 24 Inch - 400 Watt Metal Halide - Class 1 Div 1 C&D
Intrinsically Safe Blower (Ventilator) 25 foot Static Conductive Duct Redirects Stale Work Area Air
Explosion Proof Fluorescent Lights for Paint Booths, Oil Rigs, Boats -2 foot - 2 lamp -Multi-voltage
Explosion Proof Emergency Lights & Fluorescent light Combination - 4 foot - 2 lamps - Class I, Div I
Intrinsically Safe Flashlight - Rechargeable LED Flashlight with Spot and Flood Beams
Explosion Proof Fluorescent Lights for Paint Booths - 4 foot - 4 lamp
Explosion Proof Pen Light - Class I Division 1 Groups A, B, C & D - 11 Lumens - 24 Hour Runtime
Explosion Proof LED Paint Spray Booth light - Class 1 Div 1 - Class 1 Div 2 - T6 - 7,000 Lumens
Explosion Proof Fluorescent Light w/ Emergency Battery Backup- 4' 4 Lamp- Paint Spray Booth Approved
12 / 24 Volt Explosion Proof Fluorescent Light - Class 1 Div 1 & Class 2 Div 1 UL 844 Ratings
Intrinsically Safe LED Trouble Light - Convenient Hanging Hook and Belt Ring - Spot & Flood - Rechar
Intrinsically Safe LED Penlight - 50 Lumens - 13.75 Hr. Runtime - C1D1 & C2D1 - (3) AAAA Batteries
12 / 24 Volt Explosion Proof LED light - UL Class 1 Div 1 & Class 2 Div 1 - Paint Spray Booth Cert.
Explosion Proof Emergency Lights & Fluorescent light Combination - 2 foot - 2 lamps
Explosion Proof Fluorescent Ultraviolet Light - Class 1 & 2 - 4' 2 lamp - Paint Booths, Rigs, Marine
Explosion Proof Fluorescent Lights - Paint Booths, Rigs - 4', 8 Lamp Fixture - Bi-Axial Bulb Design
Low Profile Surface Mount Explosion Proof Fluorescent Light - 4 Foot 3 Lamp T8 Fixture - Paint Booth
Explosion Proof Paint Spray Booth LED Lighting - 2 Foot, 2 Lamp Fixture - Class 1, Div. 1
Explosion Proof LED Lights for Paint Spray Booth - Class 1 & 2 Division 1 - 4 Foot 4 Lamp - T6 Temp
Explosion Proof Fluorescent Fixture - 2 Foot, 2 Lamp - Class 1, Div. 1 - Low Voltage 9-32 VDC
*RENTAL* Intrinsically Safe Blower (Fan) - Runs off Air Compressor - Class I, II, & III - 25' Duct
Replacement Battery for EXPRL-95 and EXPRL-96 series intrinsically safe lights
Replacement Charger for EXPRL-95 and EXPRL-96 series intrinsically safe lights
Replacement Battery Charger for the XPR-9863E model Intrinsically Safe Flashlights
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