emergency sign light indoors

What is Emergency Lighting? A Complete Guide for Commercial Lighting

It’s clear that climate change has reached a point where it can affect people’s daily lives. It has affected society by the increasing number of power outages from coast to coast.

In fact, emergency lighting has become a critical safety feature for many. The power outages from increasingly severe winters and summer storms mean it may be time to check and repair your lighting system.

At LITELUME, our goal is to help educate our end-users on emergency lighting so they can buy with confidence heading into 2022.

Keep reading to learn about emergency lighting systems and how it contributes to a building’s safety.

The Importance of Emergency Lighting

Life is showing signs of getting back to normal, and buildings are beginning to reopen. This means that property managers must ensure the building follows emergency lighting standards.

Whether it’s a residential or commercial property, these systems must follow regulations. Doing so helps keep everyone safe in the event of an emergency like a fire.

The system is in place to provide lighting for a safe escape when the main source of power fails. In these situations, a building without emergency lights can prove fatal to trapped inside.

Some systems wire directly into the main electrical supply. Others integrate a separate power source, like an emergency light battery. This guarantees light even when the main power supply shuts off.

Property managers and owners must conduct routine maintenance on their fixtures. Batteries have a notoriously short lifespan and must be constantly tested. In order to pass the test, batteries must be able to provide light for a minimum of 90 minutes in case of power failure.

Generally, a licensed professional must conduct these tests every six months. However, not all lights use batteries as a power source. The code only states that exit signs must remain illuminated. This means that you can use other sources of illumination like photoluminescence.

Is an Emergency Lighting System Necessary?

Buildings with public access or employees require an emergency lighting system. Some examples include office buildings, hospitals, terminals and places of worship.

Some properties don’t require an emergency lighting system. These are generally privately occupied residences. Essentially, places where the public cannot readily access them.

Types of Emergency Lighting

There are various broad categories of emergency lights. These include self-contained fixtures, central batteries and others named by their specific function.


For example, you may come across LED emergency lights, which are self-contained fixtures. These lights come equipped with a built-in recharging circuit and rechargeable batteries.

Self-contained fixtures must remain at or near 100 percent charge. They must also wire directly to the main power supply.

Central Battery

A central battery emergency lighting system operates how it sounds. It delivers power to a central battery using fire-resistant cables. These systems are generally found in larger buildings like offices and hospitals.

These systems are either maintained or non-maintained. An example of a maintained fixture is an exit sign with an emergency light.

Maintained and Non-Maintained Fixtures

Maintained fixtures operate as normal lights but remain lit when there’s a power outage. Another example of this is the large square LED panels found in schools and office buildings.

These panels can operate in emergency situations because of a conversion kit. So when the main power supply is operational, the light can switch on and off. However, it automatically switches on when the main power supply dies.

On the other hand, non-maintained emergency lighting fixtures stay turned off as long as the main power supply is operational. They only turn on in the event of a power outage. The LED bulkheads found installed over doors in stairwells are a perfect example.

Other Types of Emergency Lighting Fixtures

The three other types include escape, standby and high-risk task lighting.

The purpose of escape lighting is to help people safely navigate out of a building in an emergency situation. You’ll find open area lighting fixtures and emergency signage within this type of system.

Open area fixtures serve as a lighting tool to help minimize panic. They also help people to follow their designated escape route. The purpose of emergency signage is to indicate the direction of each escape route. It also guides people by indicating whenever there’s a directional change.

Standby lighting fixtures aren’t a required emergency light source. However, they’re beneficial for situations that cannot experience a power outage. For example, many hospital operating rooms have installed standby lighting fixtures.

High-risk task fixtures serve to light areas where you must not have a power outage. Oftentimes, you’ll find these emergency lighting fixtures used with hazardous tasks.

Benefits of Emergency Lighting

While power outages in the past have been minimal, climate change has increased the odds. There are instances of more buildings experiencing an emergency situation. In addition to safety, these lighting fixtures come with several other key benefits.

The first is somewhat obvious. The most apparent benefit is that emergency lighting acts as a consistent light source. This helps to reduce panic and get everyone out of the building in a safe manner.

They also help reduce wasted time and costs. When there’s a power outage, productivity ultimately declines. The company must also spend potentially thousands in figuring out a solution. Additionally, the installation process is simple, and the fixtures follow fire regulations.

Emergency lights can also serve an economic purpose for commercial buildings and businesses. Some may find their insurance premium drop when installing emergency lights.

Modern emergency lighting fixtures typically use LED technology. This means they have significantly longer lifespans and are much more energy-efficient.

Keeping Your Building Safe – Contact LITELUME Today!

Having an emergency lighting system isn’t enough. Without routine maintenance and checkup by a licensed professional, the system is useless. It’s like purchasing a Porsche and having it sit in your garage collecting dust.

There’s no denying that an emergency lighting system is an investment. The best way to prolong your investment and get the greatest return is to use quality emergency lighting hardware.

Get in contact with our specialists to help make your property a safer and more prepared place.

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