What does it mean to be Intrinsically Safe and why is it so important?

Post date :

Sep 12, 2023

With the launch of RealWear Navigator Z1, you may have noticed that we ve used terms like Intrinsically Safe, ATEX, and more. Confused as to what it all means? Allow us to clarify.

In environments riddled with potential hazards such as flammable gases or combustible dust (including oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and mining), safety becomes paramount. Most electrical equipment isn t safe for use in these areas as a single spark or hot surface could cause combustion. So, what ensures the safe operation of electrical equipment in these volatile zones? The answer is 'Intrinsic Safety (IS)'.The Fire TriangleAs established, environments that require Intrinsic Safety are those that are more at risk of fire. All that is needed for a fire to start are heat, oxygen, and fuel plus an ignition source. In safe areas, you tend to have oxygen and heat (we re not talking a lot of heat, here). It s safe because, even if there s an ignition source present, there s no fuel. In area that require intrinsic safety, all three sides of the fire triangle are present as fuel can be covered by gases, powders, and vapors. So, to eliminate the risk of combustion or explosion, there can be no ignition source present. As most electrical devices contain circuitry that can cause a spark or get very hot, they aren t suitable for these areas. Instead, IS devices must be used.

Understanding Intrinsic Safety

Intrinsic Safety is a protection technique that limits the electrical and thermal energy available to a device. By ensuring that the energy is insufficient to cause an ignition, IS enables electrical devices to operate safely in explosive atmospheres. It offers a simplified circuit design and a cost-effective solution compared to other protection methods, making it especially useful in areas like petrochemical refineries and mines.

Classifications of Intrinsic Safety Devices:

Intrinsically Safe Apparatus: These are electrical devices with circuits that remain intrinsically safe while operating in hazardous zones.

Associated Apparatus: These devices comprise both intrinsically safe and non-intrinsically safe circuits. They are designed so that the non-intrinsically safe circuits can't negatively affect the intrinsically safe ones.

Design Principles Behind IS:

The main objective behind IS is to prevent ignition by restricting the available electrical and thermal energy. Here's how it s achieved:

Eliminating Internal Sparking: Tiny electric arcs, or internal sparks, can arise in various parts of a device. To make a device intrinsically safe, these sparks need to be reduced or eradicated.

Controlling Component Temperatures: Excessive temperatures can act as an ignition source. It's essential to regulate component temperatures to prevent this, especially under fault conditions.

Adjusting Component Spacing: In modern compact electronic devices, the space between components can sometimes facilitate an arc, especially if dust or debris infiltrates. Thus, maintaining the right spacing and isolation between components is crucial.

RealWear's Navigator Z1: Leading the Way in Intrinsic Safety

One standout example of an intrinsically safe device is RealWear Navigator Z1. Designed with the above principles in mind, it showcases how state-of-the-art technology can be seamlessly integrated into an intrinsically safe design. Its features and functionalities make it suitable for challenging environments, underlining the evolution of safety measures in modern devices.This means that RealWear Navigator Z1 users can benefit from functionality that empowers frontline workers in explosive atmospheres to operate faster, smarter, and more efficiently, without the risk of combustion.Manufacturing an Intrinsically Safe product and certifying it to be used in hazardous locations across the world is a skilled and challenging task. RealWear partnered with industry experts at MOBILE for the development and certification of both RealWear Navigator Z1 and its predecessor, RealWear HMT-1Z1. MOBILE incorporates all international standards into the product development and is also a member of relevant standards committees.

Certifications and Standards

ATEX: ATmosph res EXplosibles, a European Union directive related to equipment intended for use in explosive atmospheres.

IECEx: International Electrotechnical Commission System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres.

CSA: Canadian Standards Association, an organization responsible for establishing standards and certifications for various products, including those that pertain to safety in explosive atmospheres in Canada.

NEC: The National Electrical Code (NEC), is a regionally adoptable standard for the safe installation of electrical equipment in the United States.

To ensure compliance with intrinsic safety principles, there are established certifications and standards and these standards guarantee that equipment conforms to the necessary safety requirements.

To fulfill all requirements for explosion protection, MOBILE develops its products from the ground up, so users all over the world can be sure to use high-quality communication technology compliant with current standards. MOBILE developed and tested RealWear Navigator Z1 which was certified by renowned notified bodies ATEX, IECEx and NEC500 to ensure that the products satisfied all country-specific requirements.

Intrinsic Safety serves as a beacon of reliability and assurance for industries operating in hazardous environments. As technology advances, so does the necessity for more sophisticated safety measures, and with devices like RealWear's Navigator Z1 taking the helm, the future looks promising.

For more information on our Intrinsically Safe device, visit