Note: This is only a short overview and all system designs should be completed by a competent person and in full compliance with the current regulations for the locality of the system installation.
What is Emergency Lighting?
Emergency lighting is a type of lighting system that is designed to provide illumination in the event of a power outage or other emergency situations. It is typically installed in buildings, such as offices, hotels, schools, hospitals, and retail settings to ensure that occupants can safely evacuate the building in the event of an emergency.
There are several different types of emergency lighting systems, including:
- Battery-powered emergency lights
- Generator-powered emergency lights
- Self-contained battery powered emergency lights
- Centralised battery systems supplying emergency lights
When choosing an emergency lighting system, it is important to consider factors such as the size of the building, the number of occupants, and the type of emergency that the building is likely to experience.
In Ireland, self-contained and central battery are the two most commonly seen system types.
Self-Contained Emergency Lights
A self-contained emergency lighting system is a type of emergency lighting that includes both the light source and the battery backup within a single unit. These systems are designed to turn on automatically when the power goes out, providing illumination for a specified period of time.
One of the main advantages of self-contained emergency lighting systems is that they are easy to install and do not require a separate battery pack or central power supply. This makes them well suited for buildings where it may be difficult or expensive to install a more complex emergency lighting system.
Central Battery System
A central battery emergency lighting system is a type of emergency lighting that is powered by a central battery unit, which is connected to multiple light fixtures. This type of system is designed to provide illumination in the event of a power outage or other emergency situations.
One of the main advantages of central battery emergency lighting systems is that they are highly efficient and cost-effective.
The central battery unit is typically located in a central location, such as a mechanical room, and is connected to multiple light fixtures throughout the building. This eliminates the need for individual battery packs for each light fixture, and so reduces the amount of maintenance required at each light.
Central battery emergency lighting systems are typically used in large buildings, such as Hospitals, Airports, or other high-risk areas, where the need for emergency illumination is critical. They are also well suited for areas that require higher Lux outputs in the event of a mains power failure.
Operating Emergency Lighting
Emergency lighting systems have three modes of operation: non-maintained, maintained, and sustained.
Non-maintained emergency lighting systems are designed to operate only when there is a power failure. These lights are typically battery-powered and turn on automatically when the power goes out. They provide illumination for a specified period of time, usually minimum of 180 minutes.
Maintained emergency lighting systems are designed to operate both during normal power and during a power failure. These lights are typically connected to the building’s electrical system and have a battery backup that allows them to turn on automatically when the power goes out.
They provide illumination for a specified period of time, usually a minimum of 180 minutes. Maintained emergency lights are typically used as exit route signage.
Sustained emergency lighting systems are designed to operate continuously, both during normal power and during a power failure.
These lights are typically connected to the building’s electrical system and have a battery backup that allows them to turn on automatically when the power goes out. They remain on until power is restored.
Sustained emergency lights are typically used in areas where there is a constant need for illumination, such as exit signs, elevator lobbies, and emergency stairwells.
Emergency Lighting Regulations in Ireland
According to the regulations, all buildings must have an emergency lighting system in place that is capable of providing illumination for a minimum of 3 hours in the event of a power failure.
The emergency lighting system must be capable of providing a minimum of 0.5 lux (a measure of light intensity) at the floor level in the means of escape routes and in the areas where people may congregate during an emergency.
With regards to testing, the Irish Fire Standard I.S3217 + A1:2017 states that emergency lighting must be subjected to testing four times per year. It must also be “flick-tested” at least once a month.
In addition, the regulations require that all exit signs and emergency lighting be properly installed and maintained, and that they be clearly visible and in good working condition at all times.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is the regulatory body responsible for enforcing the laws and regulations on emergency lighting in Ireland.
The HSA conducts regular inspections and can take enforcement action against employers who are found to be non-compliant with the regulations.
Testing and Maintenance
Maintaining and testing emergency lighting is an important aspect of ensuring that the system is working properly and that occupants can safely evacuate the building in the event of an emergency.
Regular maintenance of emergency lighting systems includes tasks such as checking that the lights are working properly, replacing any burnt-out bulbs or batteries, and cleaning the lights and lenses.
It is also important to ensure that the emergency lights are not blocked by debris or other objects.
Testing emergency lighting includes checking that the lights turn on automatically when the power goes out, that they remain on for the required period of time, and that they are providing the required level of illumination.
It also includes checking that the battery backup systems are working properly and that the lights are properly connected to the building’s electrical system.
The frequency of testing and maintenance of emergency lighting will depend on the type of system and the specific regulations in your country, but in general, it is recommended to conduct a full-duration test of the emergency lighting system, once a year, and a short-duration test, 3 times per year.
For the full-duration test, the emergency lighting system should be activated for the full duration of the battery backup, typically 3 hours, to ensure that the batteries are fully charged and that the lights remain on for the required period of time.
It also helps to check that the lights are providing the required level of illumination.
For the short-duration test, the emergency lighting system should be activated for a short period of time, typically 30 minutes, to ensure that the lights turn on automatically when the power goes out.
It is also important to keep records of all testing and maintenance activities and to make sure that the emergency lighting system is inspected at least once a year by a qualified electrician or a professional emergency lighting company.
Overall, regular maintenance and testing of emergency lighting is essential to ensure that the system is working properly and that occupants can safely evacuate the building in the event of an emergency.
Eclipse Emergency Lighting Solution
In order to save lives and ensure compliance, it is crucial that an emergency lighting system is properly designed, implemented, tested, and maintained.
An Eclipse emergency lighting solution undergoes a bespoke design process and uses a unique combination of products to best cater to the client’s individual needs.
We partner with leading manufacturers such as ABB to supply our clients with the latest, best-in-class emergency lighting products such as the ABB Naveo®Pro, Emergi Lite, and Thomas & Betts.
Eclipse can offer full emergency lighting system design, supply, and commissioning to include simple manual test systems, self-test systems, or fully addressable automatic test systems.
We also provide regular maintenance and a comprehensive testing solution to ensure that regulatory compliance is sustained.
Contact our team today to learn more.
We hope you enjoyed our blog on ‘What You Need to Know About Emergency Lighting’.