Emergency lighting systems may be defined as lighting systems or safety devices that illuminate in case of a power outage. The emergency lights are usually battery powered so that they may come on automatically as soon as the main supply fails. Emergency lighting is an imminent part of buildings, whether commercial or industrial and at public places where usually large crowds are always present. There has been a standard code that has directed building owners and other such facilities to install emergency lighting so that in case of fire, smoke or any such hazardous event, the facility may be evacuated quickly. It is essential to maintain visibility in such a case so that occupants are able to find their way out of the place.
While it has been standardized that commercial, industrial and public places must have emergency lighting, it is also enforced that these lights are tested for proper operation. Emergency lighting testing may be carried on manually or automatically.
Manual or Automatic Testing
Systematic testing and maintenance of the emergency lights is very essential as laxity on this aspect might lead to heavy loss of lives in case of a fire, smoke or any other sort of panic. While conventional techniques have relied on the manual testing of these systems, it is not free of its disadvantages as technicians might neglect or overlook the process.
Automatic Testing: the limitations of manual testing can be overcome by installing self-diagnostic or automatic testing processes. The automatic test systems (ATS) test the emergency luminaires automatically and reliably providing information related to any degradation or failure of the equipment. The testing under ATS works automatically taking into consideration factors like the occupancy of the premises, the duration of the tests and recharge periods. While the testing of the emergency luminaires may take place automatically, manual intervention is required to correct the identified faults.
The Self-Diagnostic Systems
The recent trends in the field of emergency lighting have been of the self-diagnostic lighting systems that analyze the performance of the unit through their in-built features. Here is an explanation of these systems:
LEDs: Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs are the latest trend in emergency lighting systems. These lights are increasingly being used in red or green exit signs. Their increased usage is attributed to factors like cost effectiveness, durability and their energy efficiency. Pathway lights and other areas requiring emergency lighting are being lit with white LEDs.
Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries (NiMH): another of the self-diagnostic systems that is being used for emergency lighting is the NiMH batteries. The technique is used for exit-sign and pathway lighting. The nickel metal hydride provides the batteries the capability to last longer on operating temperatures between 14 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit. The batteries are highly efficient and non-toxic as well, thereby being the perfect solution to emergency lighting.
Photoluminescent Technology: another of the latest techniques of self-diagnostic emergency lighting systems is the use of photoluminescent materials. These materials are being used in exit signs and for marking supplementary systems. Their popularity is attributed to the fact that they provide brighter illumination in case of emergencies. The use of photoluminescent materials in emergency lighting eliminates the re-strike time that is common to high intensity discharge lamps.
Benefits of Automatic Testing Techniques
More and more emergency lighting systems need to be using the automatic testing or the self-diagnostic features so that they are always in working order. Automatic testing has several benefits over the manual testing. These benefits are listed below:
- Regular diagnosis of the lights for any failure or degradation
- Results are available at periodic intervals enabling the staff to analyze for any changes
- No chances of overlooking or neglect as the time of automatic testing is pre-defined
- The appropriate departments are immediately notified of any problems so that they may be repaired manually.
There have been technological advancements in the field of emergency lighting systems so that they are embedded with more features. These features enable the systems to offer better illumination and taker lesser time to activate in case of emergencies. Countries are adopting more stringent codes to ensure the highest levels of lighting so that occupants of a building or any such place are able to find their way out in case of fire, smoke or any such event.
Michael Clark wrote this article. He is a regular guest blogger at many high ranking sites. He has written this article for a site related to a site offering emergency light bars, emergency lights, light bars etc.