What is Hazardous Location Lighting? A Comprehensive Guide

Hazardous area lighting within a petroleum factory

Hazardous location lighting can severely impact any industrial working area. Did you know that, in 2018, there were 1,318,500 fires in the U.S.—and that in 2011, this number was as high as 1,389,500? The U.S. Fire Administration, which has provided these statistics, has reported that sometimes the cause for these fires is an electrical malfunction.

If you want to avoid potential fires, then you need to know about hazardous location lighting. Whether you’re a lighting and electrical supply distributor, a lighting sales rep, or a contractor, you need to understand the different types of hazardous location lighting.

Otherwise, you or one of your clients could end up with a fire that destroys property and, potentially, lives.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide. Once you have all the information you need about hazardous location lighting, you can ensure that their use is safe. Additionally, you can give your clients information about how to use them safely. Read on to learn more.

Industrial hazardous location lighting

What Is Hazardous Location Lighting?

Hazardous location lighting is a light fixture that’s you can use safely in an area where it’s likely that a fire might start. This area is also referred to as a hazardous area or hazardous location. In a hazardous location, explosion and fire hazards are present.

These hazards can be fibers, dust, vapors, and gases. All of these hazards are flammable, especially in the presence of a light.

Because of high temperature or electrical arching, electrical equipment could be an ignition source when installed. Fortunately, there are regulations and standards in place so that people can classify these hazards identify these locations.

Additionally, there are regulations and standards that have been set for equipment that’s been specially designed to be safe for use in these areas.

Regulations for hazardous location lighting are incredibly important. That’s why, when you’re choosing your light fixtures, you need to be sure that they’re certified for use in these hazardous areas.

In addition to following hazardous location lighting safety guidelines, you need to determine which products are best. Some of the best products are available at LITELUME. These products include:

By investing in these products, you can ensure that you have HazLoc safe lighting available for your clients. If any of your clients have to install lights in a hazardous location (also known as HazLoc), you can help them avoid fires by providing them with these light options.

Example of hazardous area lighting within a paint shop

How are Hazardous Areas Defined?

To choose the right HazLoc lighting fixtures for you, it helps to understand how to define hazardous areas. When you’re defining a hazardous area, you’re deciding how likely it is that there will be combustible material that can burn up in a specific area to define it.

Because there are different types of hazardous areas, there are different ways to identify them. These include the North American Division System and the Class System. Additionally, you can split up some of the Class System types into Groups.

1.) Hazardous Location Divisions

When it comes to hazardous location divisions, there are two of them: Division 1 and Division 2. Division 1 includes liquid-produced vapors that are combustible, flammable vapors that are liquid-produced, and flammable gases that are flammable because of how they are concentrated. During normal operating conditions, these vapors are always present.

Division 2 includes the same types of vapors and gases as in Division 1. However, when it comes to normal operating conditions, they are rarely present.

It’s important to note that you use Division 1 to define areas that are slightly more hazardous when it comes to potential fires. In these areas, it is absolutely essential to take the right safety precautions.

In Division 2 areas, the area is slightly safer than Division 1 areas. This is because workers in these areas are controlling and containing the ignitable elements with systems such as proper ventilation.

However, it is still key to use the correct HazLoc lights for these areas.

2.) Hazardous Location Classes

With the Class System, you divide the materials up by type. There are three classes: Class I, Class II, and Class III. Class I includes combustible vapors that are liquid-produced, flammable vapors that are liquid-produced, and flammable gases.

Class II includes combustible dusts. Class III includes ignitable flyings and fibers.

3.) Hazardous Location Groups

Within the Class System, you split materials into different Groups. These Groups include Groups A, B, C, and D in Class I and Groups E, F, and G, in Class II. Here’s how they’re defined, specifically:

  • Group A: Acetylene
  • Group B: Hydrogen
  • Group C: Ethylene
  • Group D: Propane
  • Group E: Metal Dusts
  • Group F: Carbonaceous Dusts
  • Group G: Non-Conductive Dusts (these include plastic, wood, grain, flour, etc.)

Note that the groups in Class I (A-D) are gases. Group A has the highest explosive pressures, and as you go down the list toward D, they become less explosive. However, they are still potentially explosive.

As for the groups in Class II (E-G), these substances vary. However, they all include dusts that could potentially light on fire.

Once you know how to identify all the different divisions, classes, and groups, you will know which HazLoc safe lighting types you should use in each location. This will ensure safety for anyone using lights in these Hazardous Locations.

Hazard helmets hung on the wall

Is There Any Similarity Between Hazardous Location & Explosion Proof Lighting?

Both hazardous location lighting and explosion-proof lighting are similar in that they can be used in potentially dangerous areas to mitigate the danger of these areas. However, they are designed differently because there are different uses for each.

Hazardous location lighting is used specifically for areas that are hazardous locations. These light fixtures are designed so that there is less of a risk of the flammable vapors or gases present in the area causing a fire ignition.

When it comes to explosion proof lighting fixtures, on the other hand, fixture makers have designed them to avoid potential explosions. Because of this design, the parts of the light fixture themselves are not likely to explode.

Depending on the nature of the hazardous location, you will have to install HazLoc lights, explosion-proof lighting fixtures, or both.

Example of an unsafe light fixture in a hazardous area

Risks of Not Using Hazardous Location Lighting

There are many risks that come with not using hazardous location lighting. For one thing, if you have lights installed that are not matched properly to their hazardous lighting definition means that a company is putting itself at risk legally.

Companies that install lights in hazardous locations are required by law to comply with OSHA, NFPA, or NEC/CEC standards. If they don’t do this, and someone finds out, they could be sued, which would cost the company a large amount of money.

Additionally, there are physical risks associated with not using hazardous location lighting.

If you don’t provide your clients with the information they need regarding hazardous location lighting, they could end up with damaged property in a fire. Additionally, lives and health would be at risk.

hazardous area lighting within a steel mill

Understanding the Differences Between Hazardous Location Classes and Divisions

To be as safe as possible, it’s necessary to understand all the differences between classes, divisions, and zones. For example, a gasoline storage area will be Class 1 Division 1, which means that you have to take as many precautions as possible.

If you’re dealing with Class 1, Zone 2, then you’re more likely to be safe. In the next section, we’ll review each of these different definitions. That way, you can know exactly what precautions you have to take when it comes to lighting.

Class 1 Division 1 vs. Class 1 Division 2

Both Class 1 Division 1 and Class 1 Division 2 fall under the Class 1 Division umbrella. This means that they both are areas where liquids, gases, or vapors are present that could potentially become ignitable or flammable.

Places that would count as Class 1 are fuel servicing areas, spray finishing areas, dry cleaning plants, gasoline storage areas, and petroleum refineries. Now that we’ve reviewed this, let’s go over the differences between Class 1 Division 1 and Class 1 Division 2.

Class 1 Division 1

Class 1 Division 1 is a place where all the above is the case, and where these potential dangers are present on a usual day when operations are going on as they are meant to. 

Class 1 Division 2

Class 1 Division 1 is a place where all the above is the case, but where these potential dangers only appear some of the time. As a result, you should install HazLoc lights for when these dangers do become present, even if they are not around all the time.

Class 1 Zones 0, 1, and 2

In Class 1, there are also Zones 0, 1, and 2. In all these zones, they are areas where liquids, gases, or vapors are present that could potentially become ignitable or flammable. However, there are slight differences between each zone.

In Zone 0, these dangerous materials are present most of the time during a large portion or most of the time that the area is under operating conditions.

In Zone 1, there is a presence of these dangerous materials, but only for some of the duration of usual operating conditions. In Zone 2, it’s unlikely that these dangerous materials are present. However, it is possible, so it’s still smart to install HazLoc lights designed for the Class 1 conditions.

hazardous area lighting within a brewery

Class I Hazardous Location Examples

In the Class I Location category, a location is considered hazardous if the presence of flammable gases or vapors are in the air in significant quantities as the possibility for ignition and explosion is high. Some locations include:

  • Petroleum refineries
  • Gasoline storage and dispensing areas
  • Rooms with propane gas installation
  • Dry cleaning plants (where vapors from fluids may be present)
  • Spray paint booths and finishing areas
  • Paint shops and facilities
  • Aircraft hangers with fuel servicing areas
  • Utility gas plants
  • Chemical plants
  • Detergent manufacturing plants
  • Alcohol production facilities
  • Textile dying and printing plants
  • Places where storage and handling of liquified petroleum gas or natural gas occurs

Class 2 Division 1 vs. Class 2 Division 2

Class 2 is used to describe areas where, instead of gases or liquids being flammable, dust is. Locations include areas such as coal plants, metal powder manufacturers, flour and feed mills, and grain elevators.

As you can imagine, a light that is not properly designed for these spaces can easily cause a fire. There are two types of divisions in Class 2: Division 1 and Division 2. Like with Class 1, these divisions are similar but have slight differences.

Let’s review these differences.

Class 2 Division 1

Class 2 Division 1 is used to classify an area where there are potentially flammable or explosive combustible dusts. These dusts are present in the area on a usual day, so they are always floating around during usual operational hours.

Class 2 Division 2

In Class 2 Division 2, there are potentially flammable or explosive combustible dusts in the area. However, these dusts are not usually present. For this reason, HazLoc lights should be installed for the times when these dusts are used during operational hours.

Lighting within a coal mine

Class II Hazardous Location Examples

In the Class II Location category, a location is considered hazardous if the presence of combustible dust is present in significant quantities that may ignite or explode. Some locations include:

  • Factories or production plants where starch and candy are made
  • Factories or production plants where plastics are made
  • Factories or production plants where medicines are made
  • Factories or production plants where fireworks are made
  • Coal mines
  • Flour and feed mills
  • Grain elevators
  • Plants that manufacture, use or store magnesium or aluminum powders

Class 3 Division 1 vs. Class 3 Division 2

When it comes to Class 3, this is a classification used for areas where there are flyings and fibers that could easily become ignitable or flammable. Locations that are usually classified as Class 3 are textile mills, flyings plants, sawdust plants, cottonseed mills, and cotton gins.

They can be further divided into two categories: Division 1 and Division 2. Let’s review these differences now.

When an area is Class 3 Division 1, is it an area where flyings or fibers which are ignitable may be handled, stored, or manufactured. When an area is Class 3 Division 2, it is an area where flyings or fibers which are ignitable may be handled or stored, but not manufactured.

Inside of a textile mill

Class III Hazardous Location Examples

In the Class III Location category, a location is considered hazardous if the presence of fibers or flyings that ignite easily. These elements are not suspended in air, but they can collect around lighting fixtures and machinery, and where heat, a spark or hot metal can ignite them. Some locations include:

  • Plants that shape, pulverize or cut wood that creates sawdust or flyings
  • Textile mills and cotton gins
  • Cotton seed mills
  • Flax seed processing plants
  • Leather goods workshops
  • Shoe manufacturing plants

Need More Information?

Now that you know everything you need about hazardous location lighting, you might need more information. Maybe you want to learn about the best hazardous lights to buy. Or maybe, you want to decide on how many to install or which additional light products to buy.

Whatever you need, we’re here to help. At LITELUME, we’re experts when it comes to hazardous location lighting. We also have information on other types of lighting, and we sell lighting fixtures of all types. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us here.

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