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How Often Should You Test Emergency Lights?

Published by Lee Kelly on 04 November 2019

It is no secret that emergency lighting tests are critical. Since emergency lighting solutions help people evacuate buildings and maintain health and safety in the event of a catastrophe, keeping these systems in excellent working order is a must.

At Critical Power Supplies, we offer maintenance contracts that include tests and inspections during or outside of business hours. This ensures you have functioning critical emergency lighting that will perform its duty whenever required, in full adherence with legal codes and regulations. Let's take a look at how often you should test your emergency lights, at the standards that apply to your system, and at how we can help. Please remember always call us for the latest information as not all information can be contained in a Blog thats key for your safety and security.

Critical Power Supplies - Emergency Lighting and Backup Power

Understanding the BS 5266-1:2016 Code of Practice

The BS 5266-1:2016 is the latest update to the B 5266-1 standard. It is a code of practice that outlines how you should look after your emergency lighting solutions during their field life, as well as the functions the lighting system should provide. The goal of this emergency lighting code is to ensure safety in an event that normal lighting fails or experiences interruptions.

Who Should Use the BS 5266-1:2016 Code of Practice, and Why?

This specific code or standard has two main audiences. They include: Electrical contractors and lighting engineers Owners and health and safety personnel at boarding schools, care homes, cinemas, clinics, colleges, concert halls, covered car parks, day schools, factories, guest houses, hospitals, hotels, laboratories, landlords, libraries, museums, public houses, restaurants, shops, sports halls, sports stadia, theatres, workshops and warehouses.

The BS 5266-1:2016 standard promotes an in-depth understanding of different emergency lighting solution types. Use this code as a guideline to understand how you can apply different systems to different categories of premises while meeting their various requirements.

The standard also gives recommendations on any factors to keep in mind when designing, wiring and installing electrical emergency escape lighting solutions. This way, you'll get the light performance you need to safely move people out of the building if the normal lighting system should fail. This also includes common access routes found in maisonettes or blocks of flats.

What Changes Did the Latest Update Bring to the BS 5266-1 Code of Practice?

The BS 5266-1:2016 revision aligned the code of practice with the BS EN 1838:2013 European Emergency Lighting Luminous Requirement Specification Standard. The revision:

  • Adds guidance on the commissioning, testing and installation process.
  • Covers high-risk task lighting to give light to people who work in potentially hazardous situations ways to enable shut-down processes for the safety of the people on the premises and the operator themselves.
  • Provides guidance on the practice and application of emergency lighting solutions - highlights all of the risk assessments needed for different premises.
  • Provides guidance on the required equipment.
  • Expands the code to include reference to new system developments.
  • Provides guidance on swimming pool and swimming area lighting.

Types of Emergency Lighting

There are several different types of emergency lighting, and Critical Power Supplies provides them all. Our team can also maintain your system and install your emergency lighting solutions. This includes both "non-maintained" and "maintained" fittings.

  • Maintained Emergency Lighting - This system works on a standard light fitting, and it connects and gets controlled with your other lights altogether. When the power fails, this lighting keeps working at a lower lighting level. Maintenance is required.
  • Non-Maintained Emergency Lighting - Normally, these lights remain off but have a green LED display that shows the batteries are charged. If the power fails, the fitting switches the battery supply on. They don't connect to the general lighting, and they're usually used for emergency exit signs.
  • Combined Emergency Lighting - Combined emergency lighting has two or more lights. At least one draws power from a normal supply while another draws power from the emergency lighting supply. This system can be both non-maintained or maintained.
  • Emergency Escape Lighting - Emergency escape lighting automatically powers on when the normal power supply fails. They give off enough light to allow the occupants to exit or the building safely.

Maintaining Your Emergency Lighting System

Just like any piece of emergency equipment, you must test and maintain your emergency lighting solutions to ensure they're in good working order. How often you maintain your lighting system depends on your system, but as a general guide, you should consider:

Daily Emergency Lighting Test

Check for operation. A simple walk around and visual check for illuminated neon indicator lamps.

Monthly Test

A quick monthly test is a good idea will tell you if everything is functioning at peak levels. This is a short functional test in accordance with BS EN 50172:2004 / BS 5266-8:2004. Make sure that each of your emergency lights powers on when you switch your main power off. Check over the casings to make sure there are no signs of damage or dirt. Restore the main system's power and check that your emergency system is fully charging. Get a logbook and keep a record of your results. If you notice failures, fix them as soon as you can.

Six Monthly Emergency Lighting Test

Test of at least one hour for a three hour rated system.

Annual Test

You must schedule a full test of your emergency lighting solutions at least once every year. If your system is supposed to give you three full hours of light when the mains power goes off, the test has to last for at least three hours.

When Should You Consider Performing Your Tests?

To decide on the best time to perform your system test, there are a few factors you want to keep in mind, including:

  • Risk factor. After you have tested your emergency systems, your building is vulnerable as the system's battery may be depleted. Aim to test your systems at a low risk time. For many businesses, this is outside of normal work hours. Can you phase the testing if you have permanent occupants in the building, for example in a hospital or apartment block? Do you have temporary arrangements in place until your emergency system's batteries recharge?
  • Effectiveness. Make sure your test will deliver reliable results. As an example, testing your lighting system in broad daylight might not be a good idea because you won't be able to gauge its efficacy.
  • Convenience. Consider the time that is most convenient for your company or facility. If you need to carry out fire alarm system maintenance, for example, consider testing your emergency lighting system at the same time.

Are Your Emergency Lighting Solutions Up to Code?

Do you need emergency lighting solutions? Maybe you have a system in place and want to make sure you stay in compliance with the latest regulations. If so, we're happy to give you a free quote. All you need do is contact us!