Hazardous Area Surveillance / Explosion 'Proof' Cameras

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Feb 16, 2012

Placing surveillance cameras in hazardous (highly flammable) environments have far more demanding requirements than typical surveillance use. Liability risks are much higher and the cost of equipment that meets this requirement can be dramatically more expensive. In this note, we discuss these requirements, how they are determined, and the different options available for satisfying them.

How do I know when to consider special rated equipment?

If you are an integrator, security manager, IT manager or manufacturer, you almost never should be deciding yourself whether or not special rated equipment is required.

Typically, the 'AHJ' - 'authority having jurisdiction' - makes this determination. The AHJ might be a Fire Marshal, an operational risk assessment engineer, occupational safety authority, or an insurance underwriter. That individual will classify the hazardous area based on risk criteria. It is with the best interest of the owner/operator of such an environment to realize, control, and mitigate any potential risks in the hazardous area – including the installation of electronics equipment like surveillance cameras. The provider may be asked to provide appropriate certification of the furnished equipment. 

In any case, it is important to base equipment specifications upon a valid assessment, as the cost of equipment certified as ‘safe for use’, or ‘intrinsically safe’, is significantly more expensive than non-certified equipment.

What does a particular 'hazard rating' mean?

Worldwide, a variety of hazardous area certification marks exist, and it is appropriate to furnish equipment that satisfies whichever prevailing standard applies to your application.

In the US, the widely adopted "National Electrical Code or 'NEC', defines environments by flammable volatility. The classification is segmented in three (3) classes, with a Class 1 environment being the most volatile typically including sites that handle gasoline and chemicals. An accompanying clarifier (the Division) denotes the default danger ‘type of condition’, being Division 1 – normal, or Division 2 – abnormal.

In this manner, the risk of fire or explosion in a hazardous location can be qualified. For example, portions of a fuels transfer facility may be designated as a ‘Class1/Division1’ area, while a wood pulp storage facility may be designated as a ‘Class3/Division2’ facility. Both classifications denote some risk, but certainly the risk is qualified as being more significant in the area with the lower rating.

For readers who want to learn more about what sites are typically classified as Class 1 vs 2 and 3, review this US government explanation of hazardous types.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

In the EU, a rough equivalent for the NEC’s Class/Division rating is noted by the ‘ATEX directives, 95/137’. While technical definitions of hazardous areas differ (and may not overlap) among standards, the ATEX directive seeks to quantify hazardous areas in the same manner.

In South America, especially Brazil, the INMETRO risk classification system performs the same function as the bodies listed above.

While independent of each other, these ratings all seek to explicitly define hazardous areas.  

What equipment satisfies this requirement?

Hazardous environments require specially rated electronics/electrical equipment that are certified to not precipitate ignition or cause ignition to spread to the surrounding environment.

There are two types or categories of equipment to choose from:

  • 3rd party rated enclosure + 'regular' COTS camera
  • Assembly/kit that pre-fabricates hazardous enclosure and camera

Examples of 3rd party 'explosion proof' or 'intrinsically safe' housings include:

The cost range for rated enclosures ranges is $900 - $1,700 USD.

The second category is a singular rated ‘assembly’ – camera, housing, enclosure, cabling – that has been previously certified as a unit.  No changes, beyond positioning the equipment, are allowed to be made during install for the assembly to retain this rating. Examples of 'intrinsically safe' assemblies include:

The cost range for rated assemblies is $8,000 - $14,000 USD.

Choosing Between these Categories

This is a hard decision as important tradeoffs exist.

The advantages of using 3rd party enclosures include:

  • Low Price: It will almost always be significantly cheaper to buy a 3rd party rated enclosure and COTS camera rather than an assembly.
  • Camera Selection: This allows freedom to pick your preferred camera
  • VMS Compatibility: This makes it easier to guarantee interoperability with VMS

However, there is a crucial disadvantage of using 3rd party enclosures:

  • The burden falls to the provider to ensure that all of the accompanying portions of equipment are also certified.  A significant amount of risk is accepted by the integrator when supplying a 'piecemeal' solution.

Supplying a rated 'assembly' might ultimately prove to be a better decision depending upon how stringently the requirements are interpreted, and how willing the supplier is to accept risk for nonconforming performance of a 'piecemeal' assembly. A rated assembly that is installed properly serves to indemnify the supplier of risk.

Whichever option you choose, make sure the AHJ signs off in writing beforehand.

What alternatives do I have rather than placing this type of equipment?

You can try to avoid this type of equipment.

Rated equipment is much more costly. While $800 USD might cover an outdoor ready box camera in weatherized housing, furnishing and maintaining a certified solution can be 5 to 10 times more expensive.

Additionally, maintaining rated equipment can be more costly. This equipment often requires positive pressure environment is maintained in the sealed housing, and an inert gas (such as Nitrogen) renders the interior environment void of combustible Oxygen.  This aspect of the camera must be maintained over time

Because of the significant increase in cost, locating standard equipment outside of the hazardous area is a common alternative.  Even if this strategy results in requiring more (remotely located) standard cameras, they often can be added in combinations that still fall beneath the cost of a single rated camera.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Tutorials

Backboxes for Video Surveillance Tutorial on Aug 15, 2018
Backboxes are a necessity in surveillance, whether for managing cable whips, recessing cameras, adding wireless radios. But it can be confusing to...
Camera Focusing Tutorial on Aug 09, 2018
A camera's focus is fundamental to quality imaging. Mistakes can cause important problems. In this guide, we explain focus issues and proper...
Installing Surveillance Cameras Into Synthetic Stucco (EIFS) Tutorial on Jul 30, 2018
Mounting cameras into synthetic stucco, commonly known as EIFS finishes, can be problematic If not properly planned, EIFS/stucco can be downright...
Door Swing Tutorial on Jul 24, 2018
The direction a door swings might seem minor, but it can greatly impact door hardware selection. There are four basic ways a door can swing, and...
Installing Dome Cameras Indoors Guide on Jul 16, 2018
IPVM is producing the definitive series on installing surveillance cameras. This entry covers one of the most common scenarios - installing dome...
Installation Hardware for Video Surveillance - Indoor Fasteners on Jun 22, 2018
As part of our Installation for Video Surveillance series, in this note, we cover drywall anchors. A key part of installing security hardware is...
Introducing Effective PPF (ePPF) - Improving Video Surveillance Designs on Jun 11, 2018
Pixel density (PPF / PPM) is the best metric the industry has to define and project video quality. It allows simple communication of estimated...
H.265 / HEVC Codec Tutorial on Jun 07, 2018
H.265 support has improved significantly in 2018, with H.265 camera/VMS compatibility increased compared to only a year ago, and more manufacturers...
Keypads For Access Control Tutorial on May 31, 2018
Keypad readers present huge risks to even the best access systems. If deployed improperly, keypads let people through locked doors almost as if...
Installing Box Cameras Indoors Tutorial on May 22, 2018
This tutorial starts our physical installation for video surveillance series, starting with Box Cameras, one of the oldest and most basic types....

Most Recent Industry Reports

2Gig Gun Lock / Motion Detector Tested on Aug 17, 2018
Safer guns for families and an opportunity for security dealers to sell more services? That is the aim of Nortek's 2GIG 'Gun Motion Detector'...
Video Analytics Integration Guide on Aug 16, 2018
Video analytics is hot again (at least conceptually) but integrating video analytics with VMSes can be challenging. This is especially significant...
Hikvision IP Camera Critical Vulnerability 2018 Disclosed on Aug 16, 2018
The same day that the US government passed a prohibition on Hikvision cameras, Hikvision disclosed a critical vulnerability for its IP...
ISS VMS / Video Analytics Company Profile on Aug 16, 2018
Who is ISS? In the past few months, they had one of the craziest ISC West promo items in years. Then, they hired industry veteran and ex-Dahua...
Chinese OEM Avycon Gets ADI Push on Aug 15, 2018
Who is Avycon? An American company? A Korean company? A couple of guys relabelling Chinese products? The latter is the best explanation. While...
Backboxes for Video Surveillance Tutorial on Aug 15, 2018
Backboxes are a necessity in surveillance, whether for managing cable whips, recessing cameras, adding wireless radios. But it can be confusing to...
Genetec Stratocast / Comcast 'Motion Insights' Examined on Aug 15, 2018
Comcast recently announced "SmartOffice Motion Insights", an extension to their Genetec OEMed cloud video service (covered by IPVM here). This...
SimpliSafe Violating California, Florida, and Texas Licensing Laws on Aug 14, 2018
IPVM has verified that DIY security system provider SimpliSafe, founded in 2006 and acquired in June of 2018 at a billion dollar valuation, is...
Ban of Dahua and Hikvision Is Now US Gov Law on Aug 13, 2018
The US President has signed the 2019 NDAA into law, banning the use of Dahua and Hikvision (and their OEMs) for the US government, for US...
Cut Milestone Licensing Costs 80% By Using Hikvision and Dahua NVRs (Tested) on Aug 13, 2018
Enterprise VMS licensing can be quite expensive, with $200 or more per channel common, meaning a 100 camera system can cost $20,000 in VMS...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact