Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting is often referred to as egress lighting which provides a light source when a building experiences a power outage or failure. Emergency lights are required by code to be equipped with a battery or connect to a generation unit. The battery shall provide 90 minutes of illumination to safely evacuate the building incase of a fire or black out. Virtually every commercial and highly populated residential buildingis equipped with emergency lights.

Emergency lighting and Power Failures

Emergency lighting is designed to kick in during any type of catastrophe that causes power to fail. It is found in public buildings, schools, onEmergency Lighting airplanes, movie theaters, malls, hospitals, nursing homes, stores, and residential and commercial buildings. Emergency lights include the lights that illuminate exit signs and the lights along any evacuation route to help people exit a building.

A typical emergency light provides a high lumen with wide coverage. Most individual light heads can be rotated and aimed toward where light is needed most in an emergency, for example directed towards the Fire Exit Signs. Emergency light bulbs may be incandescent or halogen. Emergency light batteries are typically sealed lead acid which store a full charge of 120 volts. Emergency Light Batteries can last for 10 years or more on continuous charge. The emergency lighting heads are usually either PAR 36 sealed beams or wedge base lamps. All units have some sort of a reflector to focus and intensify the light they produce, much like a car headlight.

Modern emergency light fixtures usually have a test button of some sort that temporarily overrides the lighting unit and causes it to switch on the lights and operate from battery power even if the main power is on. Modern systems are operated with relatively low voltage, usually from 6-12 volts. This both reduces the size of the batteries required and reduces the load on the circuit to which the emergency light is wired.

Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order

The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order went into effect on October 1, 2006 It applies to the common areas of multi-family residential buildings and to all non-residential buildings. The National Fire Safety Protection Association recommends that fixed automatic emergency lighting be used in buildings where there are a lot of people who will need to follow the escape routes.
Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order

The Importance of Visual Reaction to Lighting Intensity

The Center of Design for an Aging Society explains that the older people are, the longer it takes for their eyes to adapt to lighting changes. When a power outage or other emergency system causes the lights to go out, the extreme contrast causes momentary blindness. Without the power, safety and fire code regulations only require there to be one foot candle of light. That small amount of light is hardly sufficient for anyone to get out of the building quickly. The findings of an emergency lighting study showed that older people ran into hallway obstacles because the code-required one foot candle worth of illumination didn't provide them with enough light to be able to actually see the obstacles.
The Importance of Visual Reaction to Lighting Intensity

Emergency Lighting Standards and Requirements

There are variations in international, national, state and local code requirements regarding emergency lighting. The common standard for regulating emergency lighting suggests that all buildings have one foot candle of light along an evacuation or escape route. Requirements also vary as to whether an average of one foot candle is sufficient, or that maintaining one foot candle is necessary.
There are also variations in the way different jurisdictions define an escape path. For some, nothing more than a narrow path is required of a designation evacuation route, while others may consider an entire hallway as the escape route.
The Center of Design for an Aging Society suggests that the appropriate standard for assessing what constitutes adequate emergency lighting should always consider whether or not older people are able to see well enough in a hallway illuminated by one foot candle of light. Another obvious consideration is whether older people see well enough with one foot candle.
Typical “bug eyes,” the cheap, high-glare battery-operated lights, can blind older people, preventing them from finding the nearest exit. When LED lights are used for general lighting, they are sometimes integrated into the overall emergency lighting system.
Emergency Lighting Standards and Requirements


OSHA Emergency Light Standards

  • Emergency lights are required for all exit routes, including aisles, corridors, ramps and stairs.
  • To do any repair work on a lighting system, there must be a backup system to keep the lights on without interruption for safety.
  • Following a power failure, the emergency lighting must have sufficient power to stay on for 1 ½ hours.
  • At every point within a building, emergency lights must give off at least one foot candle of light. Along the floor of the emergency evacuation route, Life Safety Code standards require that there be at least .06 candle foot of light.
  • Fire and Life Safety Code standards stipulate that the ratio for the most to least amount of light uniformity not go over 40 to one.
  • If there is a power failure, OSHA and Life Safety Code requirements stipulate that the emergency lighting must come on automatically.
  • Exit signs have to be lighted all the time and they must have a backup system that will keep the signs illuminated if there is ever a power failure.
    OSHA Emergency Light Standards

Property owners are responsible for ensuring that the people who live or work in their buildings are able to navigate an emergency evacuation route and get to the nearest exit as quickly and safely as possible. Allow the Exit Sign Warehouse to assist you with all of your emergency lighting needs.



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