Guide to Emergency Lighting

Emergency Lighting

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:

    • A maintained emergency light functions as a regular fitting but stays switched on during a power cut.
    • A non-maintained light is kept switched off and only triggers when the mains supply is lost.

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.

 

Please take a look at our full range of Emergency Lighting.
For more advice, inspiration and news, check our Lighting Advice section.

 

andrew-author-bio

Andrew Evangelidis Head of Buying

Andrew is an experienced buying professional who takes an entrepreneurial approach to identify new lighting solutions and ensure Lyco have first-to-market ranges for our customers. Having previously worked for well known brands such as Wickes, Carphone Warehouse and Toys R Us, Andrew has now turned his hand to sourcing commercial lighting and ensure our customers receive top brand quality products at marketing leading prices. He manages a team of commercial and decorative buyers who travel the world finding new products that our customers don’t even know they need yet.

Landlords, is your emergency lighting up to scratch?

emergency lighting

When it comes to fire safety, landlords have certain legal obligations to which they must adhere in order to ensure the protection of their property and the safety of their tenants.

As part of these obligations, landlords must make sure that all emergency routes and exits are adequately lit by emergency lighting, in accordance with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – the key legislation that drives the implementation of fire safety systems within non-domestic premises. All emergency lighting systems must also adhere to a number of British and European standards, details of which can be found in our emergency lighting guide.

What is emergency lighting?

In simplest terms, emergency lighting is battery backed lighting that switches on automatically when a building experiences a power outage. There are two main types of emergency lighting; emergency escape lighting, and standby lighting. Standby lighting allows normal work to continue after a power failure, but does not form part of a building’s fire protection.

Emergency escape lighting

Emergency escape lighting is defined by The British Standards Institution (BSI) as ‘that part of emergency lighting that is provided to enable safe exit in the event of failure of the normal supply’. Emergency escape lighting is part of the fire safety provision of a building, and a requirement under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and is subdivided into the following three areas:

  • Escape route lighting – Escape route lighting ensures exits can be easily identified and used by occupants in the event of an emergency. Emergency sign boxes are a common example of emergency escape route lighting.

Eterna 8W Emergency Exit Box SignEterna 8W Emergency Exit Box Sign

  • Open area lighting – The main aim of open area lighting is to reduce panic in the event of an emergency and help occupants reach an area where an emergency exit can be found. Bulkhead lights are a common solution for open area emergency lighting.
  • High risk task area lighting – High risk task area lighting is less relevant for landlords as it is the part of the emergency escape lighting system that aids the safety of those who are carrying out a potentially dangerous task at the time of an emergency. This could include anyone using dangerous machinery or equipment that could endanger the user or other people if not shutdown properly.

Points of emphasis – lighting the way

The critical areas of an emergency escape route are called ‘points of emphasis’. An emergency escape lighting system should cover the following areas:

  • Emergency exit doors
  • Exit and safety signs
  • All flights of stairs
  • Changes in floor level
  • Changes of direction
  • Intersections of corridors/escape routes
  • Fire alarm call points
  • First aid posts
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Outside and near (within 2m) each final exit

The risk of getting it wrong

Non-compliance with emergency lighting standards and legislation can result in heavy fines or worse for landlords and property agents, not to mention posing a significant risk to tenants. Earlier this year the owner of a Nottingham-based letting company was fined £200,000 and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment after admitting to a number of breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which included, amongst other things, a failure to provide adequate emergency lighting.

To avoid the risk of fines or worse, landlords should ensure they routinely review their emergency lighting in keeping with recent legislation and emergency lighting standards.

Lyco offers a wide range of emergency lighting solutions, including emergency fittings, exit signs conversion kits and more, to help landlords fulfill their obligations and keep their tenants safe. Further information about emergency lighting more generally can be found in this guide, compiled by the Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting (ICEL).

charles author bio

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

Emergency Lighting: Making An Escape

Emergency lighting delivers light during a loss of mains power, using either independent fittings with their own batteries or emergency lighting circuits and a generator. Independent emergency lights are popular because they are quick and cheap to install. They benefit from not being linked by the same central power supply or wiring, eliminating the risk of multiple lights being disabled by a single failure.

Emergency lighting categories

There are two main categories of emergency lighting: escape lighting and standby lighting. Of these, escape lighting should be the primary focus of any lighting specifier or installer. It has the potential to save lives in the event of a fire. Standby lighting allows normal work to continue after a power failure, but does not form part of a building’s fire protection.

Escape lighting is divided into three sub-categories, as follows:

  • Escape route lighting plays the vital role of enabling quick evacuation of a building. Included in this category are green exit signs with pictograms or pictograms and text (the two styles should not be mixed). Also emergency ceiling or wall lights that provide a minimum 1-lux light level along the centre line of escape routes (e.g. the centre of a corridor floor).
  • Open area lighting must include emergency fittings if the floor area is larger than 60m². This is to prevent panic in places where people are likely to congregate and is sometimes called ‘anti-panic’ emergency lighting. Smaller areas are also counted as open area lighting, such as toilets (above 8m² and all disabled toilets), escalators, and lifts.
  • High-risk task area lighting ensures that task areas remain illuminated that would cause imminent danger to life if abruptly darkened. Examples include hospital operating theatres or wards and control rooms in dangerous plants or production facilities. A minimum 10% of normal lighting levels must be provided by emergency lighting in these areas, or a 15-lux minimum if this value is higher (the former is more likely).

Lux is an SI unit that measures the intensity of incident light on a surface. It is directly affected by the distance between the surface (e.g. floor or desk) and the light source.

Points of emphasis

Critical areas or features of an escape route are called ‘points of emphasis’, with each point requiring emergency lighting. They include the following:

  • Emergency exit doors
  • Exit and safety signs
  • All flights of stairs
  • Changes in floor level
  • Changes of direction
  • Intersections of corridors/escape routes
  • Fire alarm call points
  • First aid posts
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Outside and near (within 2m) each final exit

Maintained v non-maintained emergency lights

A maintained emergency light is used as part of an overall lighting scheme and stays switched on in the event of a power cut. A non-maintained light is kept switched off, but activates automatically during a power cut. Both types of fitting include a battery, which allows up to 3 hours of back-up lighting.

Maintained exit signs are a necessity in public buildings and entertainment venues, where occupants are less likely to be familiar with escape routes. Non-maintained exit signs are common in private workplaces.

LED leads the way

LED emergency lights are being increasingly used in place of fluorescent equivalents, which were the main emergency light source for years. LED technology has been improved to such a degree that it excels in most applications. It is often 30 to 50% more energy efficient than fluorescent lighting and has a long lifespan of up to 50,000 hours. A fluorescent lamp might only last 6,000 hours before it abruptly fails.

Other LED benefits include instant full power light with no warm-up time (useful in emergency lighting), resistance to vibration and shock, and reliable cold temperature performance down to about -20°C.

Maintained emergency lights benefit most from LED longevity because they are used for several hours a day. With ceiling lights, you’ll usually be able to buy standard fittings from the same range, so you can blend your emergency luminaires seamlessly into an overall lighting scheme. Emergency lighting image 1

A non-maintained light fitting sometimes benefits from a discreet design, since it does not function as part of an everyday lighting scheme. The Daylight LED Emergency Light capitalises on the compact size of LEDs. This tiny fitting easily surpasses typical escape route requirements and because LED lighting is naturally directional, it is able to focus light of sufficient intensity along escape routes with minimal loss of light or use of battery power.

Emergency lighting image 2

The Eterna IP65 LED Twinspot Emergency Fitting is a non-maintained wall fitting that is ideal for lighting walkways in high-bay warehouses and industrial areas. Its IP65 rating also allows use along outdoor escape routes leading to safety points. Again, the directional nature of LEDs means very little light is spilled in spotlighting applications.

British Standards

Installation of an emergency lighting system requires compliance with the following British Standards:

  • BS 5266-1:2011 (Code of practice for the emergency escape lighting of premises)
  • BS EN 1838:2013 (Emergency lighting)
  • BS EN 50172:2004 – also numbered as BS 5266-8:2004 (Emergency escape lighting systems)
  • BS 7671:2008 incorporating amendment number 1:2011 (IET Wiring Regulations 17th Edition)

Further reading

An authoritative PDF guide to emergency lighting is downloadable from the ICEL (Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting) here.

For more useful information visit our Lighting Advice section.

andrew-author-bio

Andrew Evangelidis Head of Buying

Andrew is an experienced buying professional who takes an entrepreneurial approach to identify new lighting solutions and ensure Lyco have first-to-market ranges for our customers. Having previously worked for well known brands such as Wickes, Carphone Warehouse and Toys R Us, Andrew has now turned his hand to sourcing commercial lighting and ensure our customers receive top brand quality products at marketing leading prices. He manages a team of commercial and decorative buyers who travel the world finding new products that our customers don’t even know they need yet.

Emergency Lighting – Helping you get out – FAST

Emergency lighting is a crucial element in the rapid evacuation of any kind of building in an emergency situation. No matter how large and unobstructed the emergency exits, or how well thought out the emergency evacuation procedures may be, if the building is suddenly plunged into darkness, escaping becomes near impossible. Exits cannot be located, best laid plans collapse, the exits are rendered useless and wholesale panic ensues. It’s a fair bet that more fatalities will occur because of that than because of the original emergency.

In these situations light is life! Fortunately we live in a time and place where the law of the land does not allow us to turn an emergency into a total disaster in this manner. Any establishment that welcomes the general public in through its doors is required by law to provide adequate means of getting them out again quickly in any emergency, including the provision of adequate emergency lighting.

It’s more than mere compliance

If all you want to do is comply with the regulations in the cheapest way possible then emergency lighting can be provided in the most basic form. However the kind of premises that are under an obligation to provide emergency lighting are frequently those whose patrons expect them to offer a stylish ambience rather than the most basic facilities.

That being the case you probably go to considerable trouble and expense to provide an elegant and sophisticated venue. Crudely designed basic emergency lighting will rather detract from that impression of suave sophistication and there is no need to put up with that.

Eye catching save lives

Modern, well designed emergency lighting is eye-catching without being intrusive. People should notice it as a reassuring indication that the place is well managed without feeling intimidated by it.

Some excellent examples of tastefully designed and effective emergency lighting can be found on here on Lyco. An emergency LED bulkhead light is a neat rectangular unit with legend boards indicating route to safety, whilst this emergency sign box incorporates a 4 Watt LED to perform a similar function.

Signs like these that show the way to get out and remain illuminated when the power fails are vital but you need lights in the area where the customers are gathered that also stay on or come on when the electricity supply goes down. Likewise any passageways leading to safety will need to remain illuminated at least until everyone is out of the building. Several of Lyco’s emergency lighting products are ideally suited to these situations. The 3W LED compact emergency downlight in a white finish is one such product. Only 40mm in diameter it fits unobtrusively in the ceiling gently glowing green when all is well and providing a bright white light if the mains power fails.

If you already have low energy or low voltage down lights installed, the Low Voltage Halogen to Emergency Downlight Kit might be just the thing for you. It converts low energy mains or low voltage downlights into emergency lighting and there is also an LED option available.

The lighting that a venue has to have in place to ensure compliance with the law and to help save lives in an emergency doesn’t need to be purely functional. The aesthetic appeal of the place can be enhanced by installing good looking emergency lighting.

Take a look at Lyco’s full range of Emergency Lighting

Looking for more information / inspiration? Check out our Lighting Advice section.

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.