Specifying intrinsically safe remote monitoring sensor systems for hazardous class I, division 1 environments

Wireless sensor networks frequently operate in hazardous areas where explosive atmospheres pose a safety risk to equipment and operators. A Class I, Division 1 hazardous area is defined as an environment where combustible gas, vapor or mist is present or is expected to be present for extended periods under normal operating conditions. An example is a tank or well level monitoring application that involves the storage of dangerous or volatile materials. The top of the oil tank or well head presents a potentially hazardous environment. All the components of a wireless sensor control system operating in these types of potentially dangerous applications must be properly rated for safe operation.

Intrinsically safe (IS) equipment is designed so that energy levels are low enough not to generate an arc, spark, or temperature that could ignite an explosive area. IS equipment differs from explosion-proof (XP) systems where ignition is contained within an enclosure so as not to ignite the explosive environment. While both appropriately rated IS and XP equipment are useable in a Class 1 Division 1 area, IS systems are typically cheaper and easier to install as they do not require heavy enclosures.

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