Emergency Lighting FAQ

Find answers to common questions about emergency lighting and Safecility's wireless automatic testing system

All non-domestic buildings require emergency lighting, including common areas of a domestic dwelling with multiple occupancies. 

British standards BS EN 50172:2004 & BS5266-1:2016 detail the code of practice for emergency lighting in the UK and are issued by the British Standards Institution. This standard imposes a duty of care on business owners to install emergency lighting in case of failure of normal lighting. The minimum testing requirements are as follows:

Daily

Visual inspection of indicators on central power supply.

Monthly

Testing should be staggered and a short duration functional test completed to ensure that lights operate correctly.

Yearly

A full three-hour duration test completed.

For more detailed information find our testing requirements guide here.

I.S. 3217:2013 and A1:2017 is the standard that governs emergency lighting in Ireland and is issued by the National Standards Authority of Ireland. This standard imposes a duty of care on business owners to install emergency lighting in case of failure of normal lighting. The minimum testing requirements are as follows:

Daily

Visual inspection of indicators on central power supply.

Monthly

Testing should be staggered and a short duration functional test completed to ensure that lights operate correctly.

Yearly

A full three-hour duration test completed.

For more detailed information find our testing requirements guide here.

In the event of a crisis within a building, an emergency lighting system that’s fit-for-purpose will help to ensure all occupants can safely escape.

This vital life-saving system needs to be maintained and tested on a regular basis to make sure it’s functioning correctly if the worst were to happen. If an emergency lighting system is not up to regulation standards, this can have severe financial and legal ramifications for business owners.

It is the responsibility of the business owner to be aware of inspection and maintenance schedules and to ensure they are compliant. Non-compliance can result in hefty repercussions, but more importantly, injury to occupants.

The impact of non-compliance on your reputation should also be considered – not to mention insurance implications. Insurance companies can use incidents of non-compliance as a reason not to pay out in the event of a claim.

Testing emergency lights can be carried out manually, automatically and with wireless testing systems.

Manual testing

Manual testing of emergency lighting is carried out during a simulated power failure. Mains power is temporarily switched off during testing and, if working correctly, back-up batteries illuminate emergency lights.

During manual testing a technician checks that the emergency lighting is operating correctly while the power is out. After power is restored, the technician again must check light indicators to ensure the batteries are charging.

Simulated power failures are typically carried out by either using key-operated switches or by turning off power to the specific circuit at the electrical distribution board.

Automatic testing systems

Automatic test systems can both monitor and test emergency lighting systems without human intervention. Traditional automatic test systems are sub-divided into two types

– Self-test Emergency Lights

Standalone lights that are not part of a network, meaning additional wiring is not required. These lights automatically carry out scheduled testing; however, this type of testing still requires a visual check to examine if any faults have occurred and all records generated must still be recorded manually into a logbook.

– Automatic Testing Systems

A network of emergency lights that automatically test themselves and link to a central control panel or a software platform to display results. The location of any failure is identified immediately and technicians can be deployed to repair. However, automatic test systems are expensive, disruptive to install and are usually vendor-specific.

Wireless Test systems

Wireless sensors installed into emergency lighting that connect to the cloud, automate scheduled emergency lighting testing and stream the data via a software platform. Building owners can be assured of their compliance status in real-time through a simple visual dashboard and audit trail. 

Read in more detail about the different methods of emergency lighting testing.

Automated Testing is the most efficient and error free way to test emergency lighting.

The benefits of automated testing far outweigh those of manual testing. Testing and record-keeping is completed automatically to dramatically reduce electrician visits and eliminate human error. Most automated testing solutions also give remote fault analysis, electricians have advanced notice of a lighting failure so they can arrive on site with parts required for an immediate repair. 

In the past, automatic testing systems were wired – this meant they were expensive and disruptive to install. Thankfully, wireless technology has come a long way in recent years. New wireless retrofit solutions like Safecility make switching from manual to automated emergency lighting testing quick and simple.

Maintained:

Maintained emergency lights – such as emergency exit signs – are designed to be constantly active, both during normal power supply and also in the event of a power cut.

Non-Maintained: 

Non-maintained emergency lights are designed for emergency use and only activate in the event of a power cut, rather than being active during normal daily operation. These types of emergency lights are often powered via a battery that can charge itself through its own power supply.

Self-test lights automatically carry out scheduled testing to check the light components and battery are working. They display test pass/fail results via an LED indicator on the light.

Although these type of lights test themselves, they still require a visual check to examine if any faults have occurred and all records generated must still be recorded manually into a logbook.

Any building owner or landlord that currently tests their emergency lighting manually should see time, cost and carbon savings by switching to automation.

Large scale landlords with multiple buildings and thousands of emergency lights can test every single one of their lights every month without lifting a finger.

Since wireless automatic testing systems can be easily retrofit, they’re suitable for both existing buildings and new builds. With emergency lighting testing reports all in one place compliance is simple and repair management effortless.

Safecility works with any brand of emergency lighting, including lighting that is already installed in your buildings.

For the Safecility ATS system to operate the light must have DALI functionality. If your lighting is not equipped with DALI don’t worry, a DALI inverter can be installed at the same time as the Safecility sensor to transform your standard emergency lighting into a wireless ATS system.

The Safecility sensor can be connected to the downlight and recessed into the ceiling, or, mounted on the ceiling beside the downlight.

The Safecility sensor does not affect the internals of the light and thus does not impact the warranty.

The sensor connects to the DALI inverter within the light and acts as a DALI controller. If your light is not DALI enabled Safecility or your lighting vendor should be able to provide you with a DALI emergency inverter. Installation of an inverter is standard control practice across the lighting industry. As DALI does not alter the internals of luminaires (it just connects to the dedicated DALI port on the inverter) it has no impact on the warranty.

If you have any concerns we are happy to advise your vendor directly.

Safecility does not use a mesh network for our emergency lighting sensors.

Each sensor connects directly to the cloud – this avoids density and reliability issues that can arise with mesh networks. 

With our network design if there is an issue with an individual light it will not impact the testing capability or data communication of any other lights in the system.  

Safecility does not use hubs or gateways, each sensor securely communicates directly to the cloud and we manage the data.

You don’t have to worry about the impact of a hub failing, breaking or being unplugged, or, sensors needing to access your internal IT network.

The sensor does not require regular maintenance. After installation it will operate uninterrupted for the duration of it’s lifetime.

There is a small yearly fee for the data and analytics generated by the sensor. This fee includes access to the Safecility portal with fault analysis information, automatic compliance reports and your testing audit trail.

We use Vodafone’s NBIoT network.

Both are Low Powered Wide Area Networks. You can read more about the difference between the two in our beginners guide.

Cost depends on the number of emergency lights you have. We can give a full cost and ROI breakdown across your entire estate or on a building by building basis. 

In general our clients save between 50% and 75% on their total cost of ownership over 5 years by installing Safecility.

If you’d like a free no-obligation breakdown and ROI please click here