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More specifically, the properties of materials present (or likely to be present)


determine the hazard classification and which 501-503 Article(s) apply. Article
504 provides the requirements for a certain protection technique known as
Intrinsically Safe Systems. Articles 505 and 506 provide requirements for the
Zone method of area classification, which is an alternative method to Articles
500-503. The NEC classifies specific hazardous locations by use in Articles 511
through 517. Article 500 is also loaded with Fine Print Notes. While not Code
requirements [90.5(C]), they are immensely helpful in making a hazardous
location safe.

Key concepts. Grasping a few key

concepts upfront will enhance your ability to comply with hazardous (classified) location
requirements:


The Fire Triangle (Fig. 1) helps clarify the rationale behind hazardous
(classified) location requirements. The three components are fuel, oxygen, and
a source of ignition. Fire needs all three.


Locating wiring and equipment outside of the classified location provides the
safest electrical installation usually at the least cost [500.5(A) FPN].


As an installation standard [90.2(A)], the NEC doesn't cover battery-operated
equipment. OSHA regulates the use of battery-operated equipment in
hazardous (classified) locations.

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Proper documentation is a requirement for all hazardous (classified) locations.


It must be available to those who are authorized to design, install, inspect,
maintain, or operate the electrical equipment [500.4].

Classification. Classification is not set by the entire facility. Rather, it is


determined by individual room, section, or area [500.5(A)]. In fact, the same
structure might contain a mix of different classifications. Although detailed
descriptions of these classifications may seem overwhelming, they can be
simplified by Class:


I: Presence of flammable gases or vapors that may be present in the air and in
quantities sufficient to produce explosive or ignitible mixtures [500.5(B)].


II: Presence of combustible dust that may be suspended in the air with
quantities sufficient to ignite or explode [500.5(C].


III: Presence of easily ignitible fibers or flyings that aren't likely to be
suspended in the air in quantities sufficient to produce ignitible mixtures
[500.5(D)].

Division. Confusion may also result when we append a Division to the


Classification. We can cut through the fog there, as well.

Class I:

Class I, Division 1. Ignitible concentrations of flammable gases or vapors may exist


in the course of normal operations [500.5(B)(1)].

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Where volatile flammable liquids or gases are handled, processed, or used, but
are normally confined within closed containers and the gases would escape only
in the case of accidental rupture or breakdown or by abnormal operation of
equipment.

2.

Where ignitible concentrations of flammable gases or vapors are normally


prevented by positive mechanical ventilation, but might become hazardous
through abnormal operation of ventilating equipment.

3.

Areas adjacent to a Class I, Division 1 location where flammable gases or vapors


might occasionally be present unless prevented by adequate positive-pressure
ventilation with effective safeguards against ventilation failure.

Class II:

Class II, Division 1. Where combustible dust may exist in any of these conditions
[500.5(C)(1)]:

1.

Nonconductive combustible dust is suspended in the air under normal


conditions in sufficient quantities to produce mixtures that will ignite or
explode.

2.

Faulty equipment releases ignitible mixtures of dust, and the equipment


becomes an ignition source.

3.

Group E (to be defined shortly) electrically conductive combustible dust may be


present in sufficient quantities to ignite or explode.

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to produce explosive or ignitible mixtures.

2.

Accumulation is normally insufficient to interfere with the normal operation of


electrical equipment or apparatus, but where equipment malfunction may
result in combustible dust being suspended in the air.

3.

Accumulations on, in, or near electrical equipment could be sufficient to


interfere with the safe dissipation of heat from electrical equipment, or could be
ignitible by abnormal operation of electrical equipment.

Class III:

Class III, Division 1. Ignitible fibers or flyings are manufactured, handled, or used
[500.5(D)(1)].

Class III, Division 2. Ignitible fibers or flyings are stored or handled other than in
the manufacturing process [500.5(D)(2)].

Material group. The material group designates what the atmosphere in a given
location contains. Groups A through D apply to Class I. Groups E, F, and G apply
to Class II [500.6]. Class III hazardous locations do not have material groups.
Here's a quick overview:


A: Acetylene.


B: Manufactured gas, hydrogen, butadiene, ethylene oxide, and propylene
oxide.

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D: Cyclopropane, gasoline, propane, natural gas, methane, benzene, butane,


and ethane.


E: Combustible metal dusts such as magnesium or aluminum powders.


F: Carbon black, charcoal, coal, or coke dusts.


G: Combustible dusts such as flour, grain, wood, or plastic.

Protection. You must protect electrical equipment and wiring within hazardous
locations [500.7], but how? Use any of the following:

Explosionproof enclosures (Class I locations)

These withstand and contain the force of an internal explosion the hot gases
within the enclosure cool as they escape [500.2].

Dust-ignitionproof enclosures (Class II locations)

These exclude dusts. They will not permit arcs, sparks, or heat within the
enclosure to cause ignition of exterior dust [500.2].

Dusttight enclosures (Class II, Division 2 and Class III locations)

These prevent the entrance of dust or flyings. They have no openings to allow
electrical sparks or burning material to escape [500.2 and 502.115(B)].

Purged and pressurized systems

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Intrinsically safe systems (all locations)

These are incapable of releasing sufficient electrical or thermal energy to cause


ignition of flammable gases or vapors [500.2]. None of the requirements in
Articles 501 through 503, or 510 through 516 apply to intrinsically safe system
installations, except as required by Article 504.

Nonincendive circuits (Class I, Division 2; Class II, Division 2; or Class III, locations)

These are incapable of releasing sufficient electrical or thermal energy to cause


ignition of flammable gases, vapors, or dust [500.2].

Oil-immersed make-and-break contacts (Class I, Division 2)

You can install these in a general-purpose enclosure in an area that doesn't


contain explosive or ignitible mixtures under normal conditions [500.2].

Hermetically sealed contacts (Class I, Division 2; Class II, Division 2; or Class III,
Division 1 and 2 locations)

You can install these in a general-purpose enclosure in an area that doesn't


contain explosive or ignitible mixtures under normal conditions [500.2].

You can implement other protection techniques used in equipment identified for
use in hazardous (classified) locations [500.7(L)]. The NEC doesn't explain what
this means. But the use of the term identified provides insight. Article 100
defines it as, Recognizable as suitable for the specific purpose, function, use,
environment, application, and so forth, where described in a particular Code
requirement.

Equipment. Equipment installed in any hazardous location must be identified


for the Class and explosive, combustible, or ignitible properties of the specific
gas, vapor, dust, fiber, or flyings that will be present (Group) [500.6]. But you can
still use general-purpose enclosures for:

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Signaling, alarm, remote control, communications systems and motors,
instruments, and relays in Class II locations where the quantities of
combustible dust aren't sufficient to produce a fire or explosion under normal
conditions. See 502.150(A)(2) Ex, 502.150(A)(3) Ex, 502.150(B)(1) Ex, and
502.150(B)(3) Ex.


Intrinsically safe systems in any hazardous (classified) location. See 500.7(E),
504.10(B), and 504.20.

When installing heat-producing equipment (e.g., luminaires, motors), in a


hazardous (classified) location, observe its markings for operation temperature or
temperature range (T-Rating) as shown in Fig. 3. Table 500.8(B) has detailed
information.

Thread conduit with a National Pipe Thread (NPT) taper of inch per foot.
Assemble wrenchtight, with at least five threads fully engaged [500.8(D)].
Exception: For listed explosionproof equipment, factory-threaded entries must be
made up with at least 4 threads fully engaged.

So now you've seen the modular structure of the Articles that address hazardous
locations. And you can see that breaking down the hazardous location
designations by class, division, and material group in that order simplifies the
task of correctly identifying and implementing the requirements for protecting
equipment in hazardous locations. Remember the key concepts, and you'll have
little problem correctly applying the other Articles in the Code.
TAGS: CONTENT NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES

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