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Hazardex 2018 Conference - 21. Are luminaires causing hidden risks in Ex Areas because of LEDs?

31 January 2018

Tarmo Rintala - Technology Manager, Atexor Oy. 
Thurs 11.30 – 12.10: Seminar room

The potential risks of high-powered LED luminaires have been known for years. Those risks are growing as LEDs get more and more powerful. It is equally clear that the interpretation of the standards meant to ensure the safety of these luminaires has been anything but consistent.

In September 2016, at the IECEx meeting at Umhlanga, South Africa, the chairman of the Ex Technical Advisory Group (ExTAG), Professor Xu Jianping, presented the issues regarding LEDs and the possible ignition sources caused by powerful light.

The main message is clear: There are too many different interpretations of the standards, and this is resulting in compromises on safety.

The number of LED luminaires for applications where flammable vapours and particles are present is increasing rapidly. The risk of ignition may be significant if the optical radiation has not been accounted for in the design of the luminaires.

When selecting equipment for areas with possible risk of explosion, due care must be taken. All companies do not necessarily have experts qualified to understand the differences in the safety of products. Often the purchaser is just checking that the Ex certification exist, and not digging into the details of what that certification actually covers. The person responsible for selecting and accepting products must be able to trust the certification and other information of a product.

The problems with current practices are systemic, and they are leading us to a situation where Ex classified sites have an increasing number of LED luminaires which may not be safe to use at the site.

Thanks to Professor Xu Jianping, the issue of optical radiation is properly out in the open. This is huge step, but still only the first in actually ensuring the safety of high-tech lighting systems.

Tarmo Rintala is Senior Manager, Technology at Atexor Oy in Finland, the EX lighting specialist. He was formerly responsible for Standards and Directives and earlier for Marketing and Sales activities at Centaurea Oy.

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