What Is Emergency Lighting?
Emergency lighting automatically activates when power is unexpectedly lost. This type of system is typically required by code and activates within a ten-second period to ensure essential lights are in operation. Egress lighting is one example of the type of lighting that remains operational in this situation, and the emergency lighting becomes part of the building’s life safety systems. Emergency lighting is defined as approved devices and accessories designed to automatically activate in the event of a power failure.
The Purpose of Emergency Lighting
Emergency lighting works to provide a minimal level of visibility during a power failure. It isn’t intended to provide optimal illumination, but to essentially assist occupants to safely exit a building. In addition, the emergency lights help first responders identify safety and firefighting equipment and to undertake vital safety functions. The lights are also of great assistance when responders must shut down operations and equipment that may be hazardous if they are left unattended.
What Needs To Be Connected To Emergency Power
Emergency lighting is only for critical lights throughout a building. Businesses don’t need to connect all lights to the system, as this won’t be cost effective. Life safety systems must be connected in this way, yet business owners must determine what other lights will be considered essential. Hospitals will wish to have emergency lighting in operating rooms, for example, but won’t need all lights available in patient rooms.
The History of Emergency Backup Lighting
Emergency lighting became critical shortly after the light bulb was invented. Many fail to realize national building codes called for lighting of this type back in the 1920s. Although the intent and purpose of emergency lighting hasn’t changed much over the years, thanks to advances in technology and improvements to local, state, and national building codes, requirements have changed. Business owners must understand what is required in terms of installation, system components, required locations, testing and more.
Many business owners become confused as to where this lighting must be installed. Codes vary in terms of public and private areas and what the building is to be used for. The size of the structure also plays a role in the lighting required. For this reason, many now recommend emergency lights be placed throughout a building, as the benefits of doing so far outweigh the disadvantages.
Business owners must connect the emergency lighting to a backup source. Some opt to use batteries for this purpose while others find a generator to be the better option. Most jurisdictions require the emergency lighting to activate within ten seconds of the power failure. In addition, they require the backup lights work for a minimum of 90 minutes. This can vary by jurisdiction, thus a business owner needs to check local codes to determine the requirements for emergency lighting.
When choosing where to install emergency lights, clients need to determine where they will have the most impact. The goal should be to provide the most illumination with the fewest lights. The illuminance is determined by measuring the amount of light at floor level along egress paths. Wall-mounted fixtures are an option and tend to disperse light in a horizontal manner, but overhead lights are less affected by building contents. Factors such as this must be taken into consideration when designing emergency lighting for a building.
Business owners must conduct regular testing of backup lighting systems to ensure the systems work as designed. Testing must be conducted at the time of installation, as unanticipated obstructions may affect design characteristics. In addition, testing needs to be carried out at regular intervals to comply with local, state, and national codes. The type of building and what the building is used for plays a role in how often testing should be conducted. Buildings with high tenant turnover need to undergo testing more frequently, and the same is true of buildings that perform critical functions, such as hospitals.
Unified Power provides Emergency Backup Lighting for a variety of industries. Regardless of the industrial or commercial application, the company assists those in need of fluorescent battery packs, exit signs, and emergency lighting units to meet both the immediate and long-term needs of clients. Select from commercial, architectural and industrial units from brand names such as Eaton, General Electric, Myers, and Dual-Lite.
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