Explosion-proof spray room lighting

The practical and regulatory aspects of explosion-proof lighting in finishing rooms. July 18, 2000

I am the process of constructing a 12-by-17-foot spray room in my shop. I have gathered the cost data for all necessary components: Explosion proof fan, alterations to existing sprinkler system, etc.

I was shocked when it came to the cost of explosion-proof lighting: $1,700 for one 4-foot, two-bulb flourescent fixture (I figure I would need at least four units). That's $7,000, plus installation.

I find it very hard to spend that kind of money on some light bulbs, although I do understand the safety issues involved. My electrician says we could possibly use dust-proof fixtures. I believe these are designed with a gasket and cover over the bulbs. Cost is only about $400 per. Still more than I wanted to spend on lighting, but better.

Can anyone give me some suggestions or other options? Are most of you guys using commercial spray booths? Any information would be appreciated. I can think of a lot of uses for $7,000; it would buy a heck of a lot of clamps.

Forum Responses
I was faced with the same problem. I found much lower pricing on the Internet, around $800 for a four-tube, eight-foot fixture. Also Grainger has four-foot, two-tube lights for about $400 each.

I hung a clear poly tarp over my whole spray area and have the lights above it. Keeps fumes and overspray from getting on my cheap lights. You will need to use more lights, since the poly does slightly limit the amount of light, but at $20 each it's no big deal.

Be careful with this and do the job right. OSHA can get real sticky with this.

If you're in a highly industrialized area where OSHA is present, follow their specifications. If you know what is required, then you might want to check out some auctions. You can get some real good deals if you don't mind taking the booths apart and moving them. Just know what you're looking at and make sure they meet your requirements.
This could be one way to reduce that lighting expense. Lighting is very important but so is your health and safety.

You mentioned the explosion-proof fan; don't forget that the wiring needs to be explosion proof as well, if it's in the same air space as the spray vapors. The industrial spray booths should offer this as standard equipment.

I know at this stage you probably don't want to hear this, but you would do well to scratch the building of a booth, and purchase a brand-name booth instead. When it comes to OSHA, the building department, fire marshals, etc., they all tend to be at ease once they see the manufacturer's label staring at them from the header of the booth. Think about it! There is liability either way.

As far as the money issue, I have, over the years, purchased three booths through advertisements in area "shopper" type papers. Or, as someone already suggested, look on the 'Net. I bought my last Binks booth, with two lights and a complete dry chemical extinguisher system, with piping, for about $1,000. You will have the hassle of removing and reconstructing on your site, but you will still save.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
I have sold and installed spray booths for the past 12 years. The issues pertinent to your personal use of a self-built spray room can be found in the Uniform Fire Code, Article 45, the National Fire Protection Association NFPA 33 guidelines and the International Fire Code. Depends on what your local building department references. But know this: you are probably not in compliance if your spray process takes place in a residential neighborhood. In industrial or business neighborhoods you are probably not going to be successful for long unless you obtain the proper building permits. Doing the job right can cost a lot of money up front. But you will have proper tool for your process that will pay dividends like your other quality tools.

Comment from contributor B:
The idea is to limit contact between the fumes and the electrical spark/ignition source. You can build your sheet metal booth with either glass or perspex (plastic glass) windows. Now you have a sealed area (inside the booth). At this point, you can add regular fluorescent lights, mounted against the glass windows, reducing your costs. This install may look a bit of a cost cutting measure, but you'll minimize investment, and still should meet code. Before doing this, though, make sure you verify the codes. One last thing - any opening from (or to) your process area must be min 1m (or 4 feet) from any electrical source (again, this whole fuel-spark issue).