Imagine evacuating a facility in an emergency, only to find yourself surrounded by darkness and commotion. In such a situation, being in a familiar facility can still be dangerous and cause workplace accidents. Having emergency lighting is essential for every commercial facility. It helps the staff calmly manage such situations and guides the people and emergency services to ensure safe evacuation.
Installing an emergency lighting system should be done thoughtfully considering several factors like facility size, design, and more. In this article, we will guide you in choosing the right emergency lights for commercial facilities.
Types of Emergency Lights Every Facility Must Have
Every emergency lighting system comprises two categories – emergency lights and exit signs. Emergency lights are used to ensure illumination in times of power failure during emergencies while exit signs indicate the ways to leave the facility.
Let’s have a look at the various types of emergency lights in brief.
Standby lighting is an emergency lighting that helps employees in continuing with the tasks or activities in case of power failure. This lighting provides adequate illumination in commercial facilities, ensuring the safety of all employees when the standard lighting system fails.
For example, the standby lights will help forklift operators in warehouses when parking the forklifts in the right place in case of power failure, thereby reducing the risks of accidents.
Emergency Pathway Lights
Emergency pathway lights illuminate the areas that lead to the exit doors. These lights guide the employees of the facility in reaching the nearest exits in times of emergencies.
As these lights play a crucial role in emergencies, they are mounted on the ceilings at equal distances to ensure uniform light distribution.
Emergency Exit Signs
Emergency exit signs are a must for every commercial facility. These lights are usually placed on top of the exit doors. They help facility employees spot the emergency exits and make a speedy walk to safety.
Emergency Step Lighting
Emergency step lights are emergency lights that are installed on stairs to help employees evacuate the facility in emergencies. Like pathway lights, these lights play a crucial role in helping the employees navigate to the emergency exits.
Now that we know the types of emergency lights, let us learn about choosing the right light for the facility.
5 Tips for Choosing the Right Lighting for the Facility
An emergency lighting system needs to be installed in the right places to ensure uniform illumination throughout the facility. Further, the best quality lights that suit the facility requirements need to be identified. This section will guide you in identifying and choosing the appropriate lighting and its successful installation.
1 – Refer to the Local Lighting Regulations
Adhering to the emergency lighting regulations stated by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is mandatory. Check the lighting requirements with these governing institutions to ensure there are no violations.
Every facility should stick to certain codes from the local government institutions. Remember to check with them to avoid issues that could result in hefty fines.
Here are a few of the codes that facilities must follow:
Facilities that employ over 100 employees must have an automatic emergency lighting system installed to guide them towards the evacuation or escape routes.
Emergency lights must be installed in all aisles, corridors, and stairs that lead to the exits.
Emergency lights must be connected to a battery or generator to ensure illumination in times of power failures.
These lights must possess the ability to stay lit for a minimum duration of 1.5 hours after power failure. This ensures employees have ample time to find their way out of the facility in emergencies.
The lights used must not cause glare. They should aid employees in reaching the nearest exit.
2 – Understand Your Lighting Requirements
The emergency lighting system must be designed in a way that all the rules set by the governing bodies are met. The exit paths, as they are commonly called, should have ample light for good visibility and safety.
Choose the desired type of emergency lighting based on the facility requirements.
Maintained Emergency Lighting: These lights usually function as regular lights but are on regardless of the situation and time. In case of power failure, these lights derive power from the connected batteries.
Non-Maintained Emergency Lighting: These lights are turned on only during emergencies. They use backup batteries as a source of power.
The governing bodies have not stated any codes regarding the installation of any particular type of emergency lighting. Facilities can either install maintained emergency lighting or non-maintained lighting or both. However, it is ideal to install both types of lights to ensure there is sufficient light in the facility when the power goes off.
3 – Consider the Layout of the Facility
A facility’s layout plays a major role in the installation of an emergency lighting system. Understand how the facility is being used, the floor plan, and its employees. Depending on the facility layout, create an emergency lighting system installation plan.
Identify the areas in the facility that could help employees exit the facility and install the emergency lights in those areas. These would usually be the aisles, stairs, corridors, and ramps.
For example, a warehouse would require enhanced illumination in the aisles as there could be shadows caused due to high racks. Comparatively, the administrative area will need lesser illumination. The goal is to make navigation to the exit doors convenient, safe, and quick.
Next, install exit signs above the emergency exit doors. The word ‘exit’ should be properly illuminated and visible.
Now that the areas requiring emergency light installation are known, it is time to choose the best type of lighting.
4 – Select the Right Light as per the Requirements
LED lighting is considered to be the best for emergency lighting systems because of its longevity and low maintenance costs. LED lights are an ideal option for emergency lighting thanks to their longevity and other characteristics.
Here are some factors to consider before buying emergency lighting:
Cost – The costs for installing an emergency lighting system includes the light costs and the cost of installation, testing, and maintenance. Connect with the electrical contractor to understand the pricing structure before choosing the lighting.
Quality – Choose quality lighting that offers great value at cost-effective pricing. Installing low-quality lights might fail to work as per the expectations during an emergency.
Efficiency – LED lights are energy-efficient and durable. This informative guide about commercial lighting will help you choose the best lights for the emergency lighting system.
5 – Be Aware of the Testing and Maintenance Procedures
Emergency lighting solutions are susceptible to failure. For example, the lights may not last long enough or work when they are needed the most. Testing these lights regularly and conducting maintenance ensures that they work when most needed.
As per the guidelines by NFPA, emergency lights should be tested when installed to ensure that they stay lit for at least 30 seconds. These lights should also be checked on an annual basis. Connect with an electrical contractor to schedule maintenance visits at regular intervals.
Emergency lights provide employees and facility managers much-needed psychological relief in stressful and potentially unsafe situations. It guides them to a safe area and eliminates accident risks. Follow the tips mentioned in this article while installing an emergency lighting system in your facility for a safe and functional space.
Cory Peterson is Director of Sales & Marketing at LED Lighting Supply where he focuses on improving customer experience and revenue operations. Cory writes about commercial, industrial and sport lighting, along with topics important to contractors and facility managers.