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Importance of getting Hazardous Location Lighting Right

In our previous blog posts we discussed what is hazardous location lighting and the different classifications of hazardous area lighting to break down the basics. In this post we will be diving deeper to examine five key components to hazardous location lighting:

  1. Importance of lighting in hazardous locations
  2. Common facilities with hazardous location lighting
  3. Choosing factors when selecting the proper lighting 
  4. Different types of hazardous location lighting
  5. Consequences of inadequate lighting 



In any industry, a worker’s safety is of utmost importance. There are quite a number of industries, such as gas and oil, that present a unique set of challenges and high risks of explosions. An improperly classified lighting fixture can explode when a stray spark sets off a buildup of flammable gasses and materials. This is why having properly designed lighting fixtures within such hazardous locations is of the utmost importance.

Petroleum plant hazardous location lighting

Hazardous location lighting is designed to be explosion proof and to contain any sparks or fire that may occur inside the device. Hazardous location lighting is extremely important in ensuring the overall well-being of a business and most importantly its workers.


Common Facilities

There is a long list of examples of facilities and industries that classify under one of the three risk levels of hazardous locations that require properly designed lighting fixtures. The most common facilities are:

Class 1 Flammable Vapor Environment:

  • Petroleum and Gasoline Refineries
  • Dry Cleaning Plants
  • Spray Paint Booths
  • Paint Shops and Facilities
  • Aircraft Hangers
  • Chemical and Utility Gas Plants
  • Detergent Manufacturing Plants
  • Alcohol production facilities
  • Textile Dyeing and Printing Plants
  • Wastewater Treatment Plants

Class 2 Ignitable Dust Environment:

  • Plastic Production Plants
  • Pharmaceutical Factories
  • Firework Factories
  • Coal Mines
  • Flour and feed mills
  • Grain Elevators

Class 3 Combustible Fibers Environment:

  • Textile Mills and Cotton Gins
  • Cotton Seed Mills
  • Flax Seed Processing Plants
  • Leather Goods Workshops
  • Shoe Manufacturing Plants
  • Alcohol Distillery


Choosing Factors

A longer-lasting light is a safer one. When designing or choosing specific lighting fixtures for hazardous areas, you must take into consideration its durability. This includes the hazardous location lighting:

  • Operating temperature 
  • IP Rating 
  • Vibration and Impact Resistance
  • Surge Resistance
  • Long-Lasting LED

The National Electrical Code® requires that all heat producing equipment used in hazardous locations indicate its operating temperature by a “T-rating” number. A lighting fixture is only considered thermally suitable for hazardous locations if the T-rating is lower than the ignition temperature. This is why most hazardous location lights operate at a lower temperature than most standard lighting fixtures, as not to be the source of an explosion. 

The IP codes on hazardous location lighting are what determine how protective its outer shell is against water and dust. The first number in the IP code is how resistant the outer shell is to solid objects on a scale from 0 to 6. The second number in the IP code is how resistant the outer shell is to water on a scale from 0 to 9. It is key when selecting hazardous location lighting that it is designed to keep the level of water, dust and debris within the hazardous location out of the shell to avoid any costly repairs and damages. 

A well designed and manufactured hazardous location light will be able to handle exposure to constant vibration and unintentional impact or shock. If a lighting fixture is not properly tested for such extreme conditions, it could lead to premature failure of the entire fixture. All hazardous location lighting should pass a 35-hour vibration test at 2,000 cycles per minute.

In some hazardous locations lightning strikes and current surges pose a costly threat to the facility’s lighting systems. To protect against this, the hazardous location lighting chosen for this location should be designed with built-in surge suppression, eliminating the need for additional protective devices.

A long lasting light is a safer one. Hazardous locations and facilities call for lights that are sturdier and capable of standing up to hazardous materials. As mentioned in our previous blog, hazardous location LED lighting allows you to save on maintenance costs for a longer lasting light without compromising on the safety of your workers. Hazardous location LED lights have fewer components that, when exposed to flammable gasses or vapors, can cause or ignite a fire.



Different Types

There are a variety of different types of hazardous location lighting fixtures that can help create widespread illumination while minimizing risk. Below you will find a list of our explosion proof lighting fixtures and their corresponding location.

High bays are the ideal lighting fixtures to be used in places or buildings with high ceilings. They are perfect for hazardous areas because they enhance visibility. 

Area lights are mainly used to light up outdoor spaces and are typically explosion-proof. Area lights may be effectively applied in gasoline and oil loading docks, distilleries, gas stations, oil refineries, and other hazardous outdoor areas.

Flood lights are also used to light up outdoor spaces and provide illumination for large areas with superior protection from the elements. Flood lights may be effectively applied in loading dock driveways, warehouses, and parking lots.



There are three consequences for of inadequate lighting in hazardous locations: 

  1. Safety and Security
  2. Penalties for Noncompliance
  3. Diminished Durability

The greatest danger is an outburst or a fire. When a fire breaks out in a lighting fixture, it frequently begins within the connection system. These transmission lines have been in plants for a long time and have experienced exposure to a variety of elements, including humidity. A simple short circuit in the connection system can cause life-threatening explosions and disastrous consequences over individuals and properties.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) have established industry standards and codes to regulate hazardous locations. Noncompliance with these standards and codes can result in harsh penalties and fines amounting to $15,000 per violation. Businesses that are discovered using non-compliant lights in hazardous locations may potentially be subject to severe prosecutions.

Lighting fixtures that are not made to resist hazardous locations are simply less durable. If the inadequate lighting fixture does not result in a dangerous explosion it will require constant maintenance and upkeep. The lighting fixture replacements will become more frequent and ultimately be an expensive investment. 



When it comes to safely lighting hazardous environments, it is necessary to properly classify an area by understanding the potential dangers present before selecting any possible lighting fixtures. Knowing the facility and identifying flammable vapors, ignitable dust, or combustible fibers, enables us to properly design lighting to offer a safe and productive working environment.

But, it does not stop there. Even after installation of the hazardous location lighting fixtures, the safety questions will need to be asked and answered again and again, as operating conditions, practices, and equipment change. Stouch Lighting will be here to guide you every step of the way.