Choosing Spray Paint Booth Lighting and Booth Design |
Article- October 2011 By Larson Electronics.com
Larson Electronics Paint Booth Lights on Cart with Wheels
Choosing and setting up a paint spray booth can be an exciting as well as stressful exercise. After all, the thought of all the shiny new finishes that will leave your new paint booth as well as the cash that will flow in as a result is plenty to be excited about. The stress, however, comes from trying to decide what type of booth you’ll need and how to equip it in order to avoid problems like finding out too late that although a large truck may fit inside the booth, getting yourself and a spray paint rig in there as well is another story. Just as important, choosing the right paint spray booth will have a direct effect on the quality of the finishes that leave your shop. A poorly lit paint booth with weak ventilation will lead to poorly matched colors and lots of finishing work to deal with paint contaminants. So, it’s best to be realistic and have a few solid ideas of what you are looking for in a paint spray booth in order to ensure that your new booth is all asset and no liability.
Probably the most important thing you should arm yourself with first is a good understanding of the kind of performance you hope to get out of your paint booth. When you have a good range of performance parameters to work with, meeting expectations becomes a great deal easier. First and foremost, good visibility is a must. While things like orange-peel and imperfections can usually be easily worked out of a finish, poorly matched colors, unevenly applied finishes, surface imperfections, and unseen contaminants can wreak havoc and sometimes result in starting over. Because visibility is so important, it is critical that the good lighting is used and properly installed. The lighting inside the booth needs to be bright, even with no shadows, and of the right color temperature and CRI in order to reproduce colors accurately.
With T12 fixtures on the way out thanks to new government regulations, T8 fluorescent fixtures are now the most commonly used type of paint spray booth lighting. T8 fixtures are powerful, efficient, and available in a wide variety of sizes and ratings, making them ideal for paint spray booth illumination. Lights for the paint booth should be in the 5300-6500 Kelvin range of the color temperature scale, and have a color rendering index of at least 80, with 85 or higher being preferable. The foot candle power at the painting surface should be between 150 and 350 in order to ensure adequate brightness.
Placement of the light fixtures will depend on a couple of different factors, with even coverage and eliminating dark spots and shadows the goal. How the lights are placed will depend in large part upon the size of the booth and how they will be installed. Larger, more expensive paint spray booths usually have recessed panels into which the lighting fixtures are installed. Although this can reduce foot candlepower reaching the painting surface and thus increase the necessary power ratings of the fixture, this helps to protect the lamps from overspray and physical abuse, as well as provide added protection against possible ignition of flammable paint fumes and vapors, which brings us to yet another point regarding paint spray booth lighting.
Paint spray booth lights and compliance.
Operating a spray booth usually involves working with a whole host of chemicals, paints, and materials that can pose a very real and serious danger of fire or explosion. As a result, any lighting to be used within a paint spray booth must be certified and approved for use in a hazardous atmosphere. Most lighting used in paint booths is rated Class 1 Division 1 or Class 1 Division 2. How lighting is installed will have some effect on the safety requirements the lighting in your booth will have to comply with. For lights that are going to be inside the booth and directly exposed to flammable vapors, gases, or materials, a Class 1 Division 1 approved light is going to be needed. For booths that have lighting fixtures sealed within panels or mounted outside of the booth, making them unlikely to have direct contact with flammable compounds, a Class 1 Division 2 fixture will likely meet compliance requirements. Additionally, lighting near openings of the booth must also be certified for hazardous areas according to how the booth is ventilated.
For instance; when the booth spray system is interlocked with the ventilation system, meaning the spray system cannot operate unless the ventilation system is also operating, then Class 1 Division 2 fixtures must be used if within 5 feet horizontally and 3 feet vertically from the booth opening. For non interlocked systems, Division 2 fixtures must be used 10 feet horizontally and 3 feet vertically from the booth opening. As a general rule of thumb, if the lights could possibly make contact with explosive or flammable compounds, you’re going to need to ensure they are carrying the proper approval and certification for use in hazardous locations. Doing this can be easier than it sounds by visiting a reputable lighting manufacturer like Larson Electronics and letting them recommend one of their explosion proof paint spray booth light fixtures according to your specific application needs. Manufacturers such as Larson Electronics specialize in hazardous location lighting and will likely be able to make a recommendation that is ideal for your particular paint booths requirements.
Some other key aspects to address are airflow and booth size. Airflow is important because it directly affects the quality of the finish and how evenly it is applied. There should be a steady but gentle flow of air over the paint surface. This air should also be filtered, with a prefilter to remove contaminants and an exhaust filter to catch overspray and contaminants before the air is exhausted or recycled into the booth.
Booth size should leave enough room for the operator to perform comfortably regardless of the placement of the surface to be painted. While recommendations vary, it’s a good idea to determine the general size of the largest vehicle you will work with and add five feet to the sides, four feet to the top, and four feet on the ends in order to make certain there will be enough room to not only fit yourself and equipment, but to move around easily as well.
As you can imagine, these are only a few basics that cover the general but most important aspects of paint booth selection. Larger scale operations, specialty applications, and custom designs will likely entail additional considerations that can only be addressed on a case by case basis. If you keep safety and ease of operation in mind, however, the chances are good that you’re selection of paint spray booth will meet all of your expectations.