Guide to Emergency Lighting
Author: Jon Sharman
Published: April 10, 2016
Emergency lighting is lighting that works during a power cut, normally using a battery for up to 3 hours of standby power. Emergency lights might be anything from green signage lights to everyday fittings that blend into standard lighting schemes.
Escape & Standby
Emergency lighting falls into one of two categories: escape lighting or standby lighting.
Standby lighting allows work to continue during a power loss, but is not a legal requirement.
Escape lighting is far more critical and subdivided into three categories:
- Escape route lighting identifies and lights exit routes and enables safe evacuation of a building.
- Open area (anti-panic) lighting is intended to avoid panic in large spaces (above 60m²) where occupants are likely to gather.
- High risk task area lighting enables hazardous processes to be closed down so that operators or occupants are not put at needless/further risk.
Emergency lights and their roles are defined by British Standard 5266-1, which is a code of practice for emergency lighting. Up-to-date advice on how to conform to this standard is available for download (PDF) from the ICEL website.
Maintained & Non-Maintained
Emergency lights generally come in maintained or non-maintained forms:
Maintained lights are required in premises where visitors may be unfamiliar with their surroundings (e.g. cinemas, nightclubs, public buildings), while non-maintained lights are used more in private workplaces.