Choosing and Maintaining your Emergency Lighting
Emergency lighting installation is important for use in emergency situations when there is an issue with the main power supply and the normal lighting stops working. This might be due to a power cut, a fire or simply that there has been a failure in the lighting system. The problem is that the darkness is potentially dangerous, especially in emergency situations and that’s why emergency lighting is needed.
Types of emergency lighting installation
There are a few different types of emergency lighting that your business may need. These are divided into categories based on what they do and where they go.
Emergency escape lighting is used to direct people to the exits and make sure they can safely leave the building. It is a provision of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that businesses have this kind of lighting and it is one of the most familiar forms.
- Escape route lighting is part of the emergency escape lighting system and leads people through the building to the nearest safe exit.
- Open area lighting is also known as anti-panic lighting and is used to minimalise panic and ensure people can lease the building in a safe way.
- High risk task area lighting is another part of the system that illuminates potentially dangerous areas or processes to ensure these can be handled properly.
Standby lighting is used to allow normal activities to continue and mimics the lighting levels usually in place. There’s no legal requirement to have this kind of lighting but it may be used in some businesses depending on the nature of the business.
Emergency lighting type
Another way to divide the types of emergency lighting installation is by how they are powered. There are different options that have their pros and cons to consider.
Self-contained single point
This type of installation is quicker and cheaper than other options and standard wiring material is used. It offers a low-cost option with no need for specialist wiring or ventilation and it is easy to extend it if the system needs to cover new areas.
However, the batteries may be adversely affected by things like high or low temperatures and there is a limit to the battery life of 2-4 years. Testing will also require isolation and observation of each individual light unit.
Central battery source
With this system, emergency lighting maintenance is easier as there is a single location to be checked. Battery life can be anywhere from 5 to 25 years and the batteries are environmentally stable, able to cope better with high or low temperatures. The larger batteries are also less expensive for their lifespan.
There are higher costs when installing and there are requirements around the type of wiring used. There is also the need for ‘battery room’ to house the cells and charge circuits while some ventilation may be needed. A potential drop in lighting levels furthest from the battery unit can be an issue.
Servicing and testing your emergency lighting installation
Whatever configuration of light and battery your company chooses, it is important to also have a schedule in place for servicing and testing. Manual testing may involve the switching on of every emergency light to ensure they are working and can take more time. But if the lights work from a single point, then this is what will be tested, meaning the time involved is less.
All servicing and testing need to comply with the relevant British Standards and this also means getting the right company to conduct the checks. Ideally, look for a company who can install the systems then offer ongoing maintenance as they will best understand the needs of the system they have installed.