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Electrical Apparatus and Hazardous Areas

(Published 2007)

This book gives full information of both electrical and non-electrical hazardous area technology

and covers terminology, equipment marking, ATEX, DSEAR, Area Classification, Types of Protection etc.

Click here for details


Hazardous areas are defined by three main criteria:
  • The type of hazard
  • The likelihood of the hazard being present in flammable concentrations
  • The (auto) ignition temperature of the hazardous material
The type of hazard (Groups)

The hazard will be in the form of a gas, vapour, dust or fibre.

Gases and Vapours

Gases and vapours are categorized in terms of their ignition energy or the maximum experimental safe gap (in respect of flameproof protection).  This categorization leads to the Gas Groups:


Mining Surface Industry
Group I Group II
Propane Ethylene Hydrogen


(The gases noted in the table are typical gases for each group.)

Group IIC is the most severe group.  Hazards in this group can be ignited very easily indeed.

Equipment marked as suitable for Group IIC is also suitable for IIB and IIA.

Equipment marked as suitable for IIB is also suitable for IIA but NOT for IIC.

If equipment is marked, for example, Ex e II T4 then it is suitable for all subgroups IIA, IIB and IIC.


Dusts and Fibres  (Group III)

Group III is subdivided into three sub groups:

IIIA  Combustible flyings

IIIB  Non-conductive dust

IIIC  Electrically conductive dusts

Dusts and fibres are also defined in terms of their ignition properties including dust cloud ignition properties.



The likelihood of the hazard being present in flammable concentrations (Zones)

The likelihood of the hazard being present in flammable concentrations will vary from place to place.  A location very close to an open source of hazard will have a high likelihood of a flammable atmosphere.  On the other hand, outside a flanged pipe containing a flammable liquid, the likelihood of a flammable atmosphere being present is much lower since it will only occur if the flange leaks.  Rather than work with an infinite range of possibilities, three zones are defined.


Gases and Vapours

There are three zones for gases and vapours:


Zone 0 Flammable atmosphere highly likely to be present - may be present for long periods or even continuously
Zone 1 Flammable atmosphere possible but unlikely to be present for long periods
Zone 2 Flammable atmosphere unlikely to be present except for short periods of time - typically as a result of a process fault condition.


Zone zero is the most severe zone (the highest probability of flammable atmosphere presence).  Equipment for this zone needs to be very well protected against providing a source of ignition.


There are three zones for dusts:


Zone 20 Dust cloud likely to be present continuously or for long periods
Zone 21 Dust cloud likely to be present occasionally in normal operation
Zone 22 Dust cloud unlikely to occur in normal operation, but if it does, will only exist for a short period

(The presence of dust layers does not automatically lead to the dust zone.  The likelihood of the dust layer being disturbed to create a cloud needs to be considered.  Dust layers also need careful consideration in terms of ignition temperature.  Because the dust layer can make the equipment under it hotter then normal, a factor of safety is applied to the layer ignition temperature.)



The (auto) ignition temperature of the hazardous material (Temperature Classes)

As well as considering the protection against electrical arcs and sparks igniting a flammable atmosphere, consideration needs to be given to the surface temperature of equipment.  (Most electrical apparatus dissipates some heat!)  Flammable materials are categorized according to their ignition temperature.  Again, rather than work with an infinite range, six temperature classes are defined as follows:



T-Class Hazards which will not ignite at temperatures below:
T1 450C
T2 300C
T3 200C
T4 135C
T5 100C
T6 85C


The bigger the T-number the lower is the temperature.

The Temperature classification will be marked on items of equipment. If the hazardous area in which you are installing equipment has gases or vapours with a low autoignition temperature then you will need equipment with a bigger T-Number so as to ensure that any hot surfaces on the equipment will not ignite the hazard.

For example, if a hazard has an autoignition temperature of 180C, then it would be safe to use equipment which is marked T6 or T5 or T4.  It would not be safe to use equipment marked T3 or T2 or T1 as this equipment could exhibit surface temperatures which are hot enough to ignite the hazardous atmosphere.

Don't forget that, unless the certification documents state otherwise (in which case there will be an addition to the T-Classification code on the equipment label such as T4 (60C Amb)) the equipment is only certified in ambient temperatures up to 40C. If exposed to higher temperatures there are two possible dangers. First the stated T-Class temperature may be exceeded and secondly safety components within the equipment could fail to an unsafe condition. If you expect equipment to be subjected to temperatures above 40C (such as in direct sunshine or in a roof space) you should install equipment which is certified for a higher ambient temperature.




Protecting Electrical Apparatus to make it suitable for use in hazardous areas

Electrical apparatus for use in hazardous areas needs to be designed and constructed in such a way that it will not provide a source of ignition.  There are ten recognized types of protection for hazardous area electrical apparatus. Each type of protection achieves its safety from ignition in different ways and not all are equally safe.  In addition to the equipment being suitable for the Gas Group and the Temperature Class required, the type of protection must be suitable for the zone in which it is to be installed.  The different types of protection and the zones for which they are suitable are as follows:


For information on equipment marking, click here (opens new page)


Types of Protection for Gas / Vapour Hazards

See also information on Types of Protection, Click here (opens new page)


Equipment Code Description Suitable for zones... Equipment Category ...
Ex ia Intrinsic safety 'ia' 0, 1, 2 1G
Ex ib Intrinsic safety 'ib' 1,2 2G
Ex ic Intrinsic Safety 'ic' 2 3G
Ex d Flameproof protection 1,2 2G
Ex p Purge/pressurized protection 1,2 2G
Ex px Purge/pressurized protection 'px' 1,2 2G
Ex py Purge/pressurized protection 'py' 1,2 2G
Ex pz Purge/pressurized protection 'pz' 2 3G
Ex e Increased safety 1,2 2G
Ex m Encapsulation 1,2 2G
Ex ma Encapsulation 0,1,2 1G
Ex mb Encapsulation 1.2 2G
Ex mc Encapsulation 2 3G
Ex o Oil immersion 1,2 2G
Ex q Sand / powder (quartz) filling 1,2 2G
Ex n Type - n protection 2 3G
Ex s Special protection Normally 1 and 2  


Equipment complying with European (CENELEC) standards will frequently bear the code EEx (as opposed to Ex) But note that the use of EEx is being phased out, and equipment designed and certified to the latest editions of the European Standards will be coded Ex... (as opposed to EEx...). 

In general, the European standards for hazardous area electrical equipment are technically identical to the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) standards. Equipment manufacturers oftenh have their equipment designs certified to both the European and IEC requirements so that they can market their equipment worldwide. This does, unfortunately make the equipment labelling plate more complex.


Types of Protection for Equipment for Dust Hazard Locations


Equipment Code Description Suitable for Zones... Equipment Category ..
tDA20 Protection by enclosure 20, 21, 22 1D
tDB20 Protection by enclosure 20,21,22 1D
iaD Intrinsic Safety 20,21,22 1D
maD Encapsulation 20,21,22 1D
tDA21 Protection by enclosure 21,22 2D
tDB21 Protection by enclosure 21,22 2D
ibD Intrinsic Safety 21,22 2D
mbD Encapsulation 21,22 2D
pD Pressurization 21,22 2D
tDA22 Protection by enclosure 22 3D
tDB22 Protection by enclosure 22 3D
icD Intrinsic Safety 22 3D



Equipment Protection Levels - EPL
From 2007 onwards, the IEC Technical Standards in the series IEC 60079, and in particular IEC 60079 Part 14, have recognised that there may be occasions where it is necessary to increase, above the normal levels, the protection against ignition sources. This concept allows for consideration of risk (ie consequences of an explosion) as opposed to just the probability of a flammable atmosphere existing - the conventional selection criteria between the types of protection and the zone of use.

Three Equipment Protection Levels are specified as shown in the table below.

In normal circumstances the effect of these EPLs will be to retain the normal zone/equipment protection relationship. If, however, the risk is considered especially severe, then the required EPL for the zone may be increased.  Similarly, if the risk is deemed to be especially small or negligible, the EPL may be reduced from the norm.

The following two tables show the normal relationship between EPL and zone, and the EPL awarded to each type of protection.


Equipment Protection Level (EPL) Normal Applicable Zone(s)
Ga 0 (and 1 and 2)
Gb 1 (and 2)
Gc 2


Equipment Code Description EPL
Ex ia Intrinsic safety 'ia' Ga
Ex ib Intrinsic safety 'ib' Gb
Ex ic Intrinsic Safety 'ic' Gc
Ex d Flameproof protection Gb
Ex p Purge/pressurized protection Gb
Ex px Purge/pressurized protection 'px' Gb
Ex py Purge/pressurized protection 'py' Gb
Ex pz Purge/pressurized protection 'pz' Gc
Ex e Increased safety Gb
Ex m Encapsulation Gb
Ex ma Encapsulation Ga
Ex mb Encapsulation Gb
Ex o Oil immersion Gb
Ex q Sand / powder (quartz) filling Gb
Ex n Type - n protection Gc
Ex s Special protection Refer to equipment marking and documentation



For dust hazards, the EPLs are as follows:


Equipment Protection Level (EPL) Normal Applicable Zone(s)
Da 20 (and 21 and 22)
Db 21 (and 22)
Dc 22




There are various standards which give details of hazardous area requirements.  In the main, the IEC standards are now parallel voted by CENELEC (Europe). New standards are being introduced at a bewildering rate and it is always worth checking against, for example, the BSI website. (See Useful Links Page)

It is important for equipment designers to design to the latest edition of ATEX harmonised standards - the up to date list can be found on the EC ATEX website. (See Useful Links Page)

Gradually, the technical standards for the technology for gas/vapour hazards and those for dust hazards are being incorporated into the same series. For example IEC 60079-10 covers area classification IEC 60079-10-1 deals with gas/vapour hazards and IEC 60079-10-2 deals with dust hazards. Similar numbering will apply for other aspects such as installation.

Top level standard

EN1127-1    Explosive atmospheres: Explosion prevention and protection.  Part 1: Basic concepts and methodology


Standards for Equipment




Part 0       General requirements

Part 1       Construction and test of flameproof enclosures of electrical apparatus

Part 2       Electrical apparatus - type of protection p

Part 3       Spark test apparatus for intrinsically safe circuits

Part 4       Method of test for ignition temperature

Part 5       Powder filling q

Part 6       Oil-immersion o

Part 7       Increased safety e'

Part 11     Construction and test of intrinsically safe and associated apparatus

Part 15     Electrical apparatus for explosive gas atmospheres, type of protection n

Part 18     Encapsulation m

Part 25     Intrinsically safe systems

Part 26     Special requirements for construction test and marking of zone 0 electrical apparatus

Part 27     Fieldbus intrinsically safe concept (FISCO)


Standards for Installation etc. (gases and vapours)




Part 10    Classification of hazardous areas

Part 14    Installation (and selection) of equipment in hazardous areas

Part 17    Inspection and maintenance of equipment


Note that the 60079 series of standards will gradually address dust hazards as well as gas/vapour hazards. The standard number will have an additional suffix 1 or 2. Thus, for example, 61241-14 (see below) will be replaced by 60079-14-2 [installation for equipment in dust hazards], with 60079-14-1 dealing with installations in gas/vapour hazards.


Standards for Dust Hazard Equipment and Installation


Part 0       General Requirements

Part 1       Protection by enclosure tD

Part 2-1     Methods for determining the minimum ignition temperature of dusts

Part 2-2     Method for determining the resistivity of dust in layers

Part 2-3     Method for determining minimum ignition energy of dust air mixtures

Part 4       Type of protection pD

Part 10     Classification of areas where combustible dusts are or may be present

Part 11     Protection by intrinsic safety iD

Part 14     Selection and installation

Part 17     Inspection and maintenance

Part 18     Protection by encapsulation mD




ATEX Directives



For detailed information on ATEX, please navigate to the ATEX pages on this web site

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