ATEX and Explosion-proof luminaires: why they are different

In many cases the terms ATEX and Explosion-proof are confused and according to many, they have the same meaning,  but this is far from being true.  reality. In addition, this error can lead to dangerous situations, and manufacturers and installers have a great responsability, so it is necessary to make the relevant distinctions.


FLAME-para-webATEX is an  atmosphere that can be potentially explosive due to the presence of  gases, vapors, dust or flammable fibers. These atmospheres may be generated at any given time or may exist continuously. An ATEX luminaire is a luminaire designed to be placed in these spaces because, thanks to the way it is manufactured and thanks to its materials, it is not liable to cause an explosion. We consider ATEX spaces such as laboratories, paint booths, pump rooms and / or liquid compressors, interior refrigerators or dryers, among others.

Within these explosive atmospheres we distinguish several zones, taking into account different parameters such as the frequency with which these explosive atmospheres occur, their duration and the nature of the atmosphere. We can identify six different zones: Zone 0, 1, 2, Zone 20, 21 and 22. Each zone features different characteristics, and for this reason, it should be the developer or engineer who, under his responsibility, choose the most suitable luminaire depending on the stipulated zone.

These installations are covered and regulated by DIRECTIVE 2014/34 / EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 26 February 2014 on the harmonization of the laws of the Member States concerning equipment and protective systems for use in potentially hazardous explosive atmospheres.

In addition to zone marking, there are dozens of standards that regulate this type of luminaire, with an average of two or three standards per housingn. In the Airfal catalog we also have explosion-proof luminaires with (“d” protection), increased safety (with “e” Protection) and Restricted Breathing enclosure  (“nR” Prohibition).

In order to bring to market a new ATEX luminaire, a process that is much more complex than for an industrial luminaire must be followed. It is necessary that a Notified Body approve a prototype in plan, to be able to create a real prototype. This model must pass rigorous tests and audits that certify its suitability and, in turn, the manufacturer is subjected to mandatory annual audits.

Explosion-proof luminaire

An Explosion-proof luminaire is an ATEX luminaire designed so that, in the hypothetical case of a potentially explosive atmosphere filtering inside and generating a spark or explosion inside, this deflagration remains inside the luminaire and does not propagate on the outside, avoiding the risks that it entails.

It is very important to clarify that all Explosion-proof luminaires are ATEX, but not all ATEXs are explosion-proof, so it is necessary to pay particular attention to what markings we need to know what luminaire to order.

Airfal ATEX Catalog

Airfal International is the only Spanish company that manufactures its own ATEX luminaires with 6 tested luminaires that comply with the established regulations. We can highlights the Pyros luminaire, which besides having the ATEX marking is explosion proof thanks to the materials of its casing and the way of joining them. It is the only model that in addition to being ATEX has a “d” Protection. Airfal ‘s range also includes the Flame, Secure and Minex luminaire, the latter is specially designed for the lighting of mines and underground spaces with possible gas accumulation. Also in the Airfal catalog we discover the Lumex and Taurus, perfect for industrial spaces that are not mines and with especially high ceilings.

Airfal’s R & D department is already working on the creation of new ATEX models, which we  hope to launch in the coming months.