Flammable vs Explosion Proof Cold Storage: What’s the Difference?

hazard warning signs industry 1321x800 - Flammable vs Explosion Proof Cold Storage: What’s the Difference?


Choosing the correct equipment for your laboratory can be a daunting task. Many laboratory settings handle hazardous and flammable materials. The safe storage of these substances is vital. In this article, we’ll focus on one often-repeated question in the industry—“What is the difference between flammable and explosion proof cold storage?”

It’s a great question. Let’s take a look.

Why Flammable Refrigeration?

Perhaps it goes without saying, but domestic refrigerators and freezers are unsafe to use for volatile substances. The reasons for this are plenteous, including electrical sparking hazards, exposed wires, and the heat-producing lighting in domestic refrigeration.

When it comes volatile cold storage, two main equipment choices are available: explosion proof units and flammable storage units. However, many people find it difficult to decipher between the two.

Let’s start with defining the purpose of each.

Defining Flammable Cold Storage

First, let’s look at flammable storage. Flammable storage refrigerators and freezers are built with a flame-resistant interior. The anti-sparking components of these cabinets makes them ideal for storing substances of a flammable nature. Most laboratories will choose flammable storage refrigerators since they meet the most common needs in standard lab settings.

But what if your lab setting isn’t standard? What if dangerous conditions exist outside the unit?

That’s where explosion proof units come in.

Defining Explosion Proof (HazLoc) Cold Storage

Explosion proof cold storage—also known as HazLoc (hazardous location) cold storage—takes on an addition role. Explosion proof units are built with a spark-free interior like flammable units, but they’re also built with a spark-free exterior. This quality makes them safe for lab settings where flammable atmospheric conditions exist outside of a cold storage unit.

How do you know if your workspace has a flammable atmosphere?

If your work atmosphere is flammable, it will likely include combustible vapors or atmospheric dusts. Flammable atmospheres include Class 1 Division 2 atmospheres and similar conditions that are conducive to combustion. HazLoc units are designed to provide as much safety as possible in these high-risk zones. They require a separate sealed conduit for all electrical components to keep them out of danger. They also require a hardwired line and cord plug for added safety.

For example, solvent dispensing rooms are a prime example of an explosion-prone atmosphere that would require an explosion proof unit. However, if you just need cold storage for a potentially volatile lab chemical, a flammable unit should be your choice.


In short, flammable units are internally protected, whereas explosion proof units are both internally and externally protected. The deciding factor between the two is the atmospheric conditions of your lab. So next time you’re shopping for lab-protecting cold storage—you’ll know what to buy.


GMI proudly offers a full line of flammable and HazLoc cold storage for ultimate protection and untouched efficiency. Explore today www.gmi-inc.com

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