It’s the Right Time to be Interested in Emergency Lighting

In any residential facility emergency lighting is a practical and legal requirement. With many vulnerable people in care homes, including some with limited mobility, an effective emergency lighting system becomes even more vital.

Modern emergency lighting systems are much smarter and user-friendly, offering real opportunities for cost savings, efficiency gains and improved protection. Improvements begin with the lights themselves. Standard emergency luminaires are no longer the automatic choice and you can convert almost any commercial light for emergency use. Companies with ICEL 1004 approval can also re-engineer virtually any luminaire as an emergency light.

Current fire industry best practice, in line with emergency lighting guidelines as laid down in BS5266-1, 2016 (Annex E) and also in BS EN 50172 (BS5266-8 2004), is to facilitate phased evacuation or to keep people in specific safe areas until evacuation is essential, especially if they have limited mobility, so EL systems need to last up to three hours on battery power. Luminaires also need to be strong enough to prevent panic and enable an orderly evacuation, offering levels of up to 50 Lux for 30 minutes in specific areas after the system is activated.

Another important consideration, given the fact that some residents may suffer visual impairment, is the need for illuminated emergency exit signs providing much clearer guidance, in place of photoluminescent signs.

LEDs offer design, energy-saving and environmental gains, representing the biggest recent change in the EL industry. They last longer, reducing the need for bulb replacement, and their lower power usage means they can be installed with smaller battery packs, offering both aesthetic, logistical advantages and a greener solution.

New procedures and standards require improved light testing, as well as better evidence of compliance. This protects responsible people and (because it implies a perfectly operating system) building users. Automatic testing systems (ATS) also offer many innovations. They are usually control panels, connected to addressable lights, or lights with addressable modules.

Some are limited to fixed emergency luminaires, while others allow these addressable modules to be installed within bespoke units, such as high bay lighting. These systems allow luminaires to be tailored for specific environments like clean rooms or operating theatres.

Luminaires on an ATS network can communicate with the control panel and facilitate seamless monitoring and management of the system, removing the need to test and observe each light individually. They can deliver prompt and accurate reporting of test results and provide work instructions for any necessary maintenance.

Automatic testing allows buildings to be tested outside normal hours, so testing in busy offices or operating theatres can be planned around normal operations. It also eliminates human error factor and immediately flags any remedial requirements.  Bespoke testing regimes can be applied depending on building occupancy and use.

ATS systems provide a simple way to monitor and manage emergency lighting. They allow remote access to installations using the Cloud (internet) to access the very latest status and test reports, even via handheld devices. Businesses with multiple sites can have all their emergency lights on a single network, with all testing, programming, maintenance and compliance data safely stored and archived in a remote location.

If you are a care home owner or operator, now is a good time to look again at how you manage your emergency lighting systems to ensure you are taking advantage of the benefits available.