Instructions on when and how to test emergency lighting

How To Test Emergency Lighting: Top 3 Types & Best Guide

How to test emergency lighting? An emergency lighting system that usually includes such emergency fixtures as emergency and exit lights.

In normal operation, each emergency light is connected to the mains power supply to support emergency power and keep the battery power fully charged.

In the event of a power failure, the emergency power is automatically switched on.

Installation of an emergency light system is not a voluntary action but a statutory requirement and is subject to regulation by international and national standards.

The proper response of emergency lighting aimed to ensure prompt evacuation of people constitutes an essential part of safety requirements in case of unexpected situations such as fire, earthquake, and other events resulting in power failure.

Therefore, it is crucial to maintain the continuous fault-free condition of an emergency light. This, in turn, requires regular testing along with routine maintenance.

Our article aims to cover the above topic, exactly the schedule and types of testing, in detail.

how to test emergency lighting

Basic requirements for emergency lighting tests

One of the basic requirements is that emergency lights should be wired on the same circuit as the mains-operated lighting.

Routine testing of emergency lights is subject to obligatory testing according to the established schedule.

The schedule of routine testing of the emergency light system

Ideally, the emergency lights are subject to a daily visual inspection conducted to make sure that all fixtures are in good condition.

According to the fire code, the emergency lighting shall be tested every month.

A monthly test doesn’t take much time. It lasts not less than 30 seconds and is intended to check the proper functioning of emergency lights during the power failure simulated by turning a key switch off (the key switch is a device installed to isolate the emergency lighting).

The test duration of 30 seconds is established to prevent a test error.

The matter is that some emergency batteries have a charge enough for lighting the bulbs but only for a few seconds. Therefore, the test should last for at least 30 seconds.

In addition, a visual inspection of all external surfaces is required to check for signs of contamination or damage.

The annual testing is established according to the requirements of a fire code and other safety standards. The annual test is intended for long-term emergencies with less than a 90-minute duration. To carry out this testing, a key switch should be turned off for a 90-minute period.

However, the fire codes of some jurisdictions require a testing duration of at least 3 hours.

There are some aspects related to the time of testing which should be kept in mind.

The time of the lowest risk of power failure should be chosen for testing.

The annual tests should be tested during work-off hours.

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Types of emergency lights testing

Before proceeding with the options of testing, it should be noted that all procedures are subject to keeping written records.

Manual testing

This is a common testing used both in monthly and annual tests.

Usually, to conduct tests a key switch is used while a test button can be an alternative to it. As mentioned above, to start testing, you should disconnect the key switch or press the test button to isolate the emergency lighting system from the mains.

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Self-test carrying out

Some emergency fixtures can perform a self-test without the participation of people in the testing process. This means that these devices operate on their own, have no need for a key switch, and don’t communicate with a central control panel.

The self-testing is performed in the established intervals with further automatic recording of the results in relevant devices.

The majority of equipment with a self-testing function comes with an LED indicator of green, yellow, and red colors. Green shows the correct operation, yellow shows an LED malfunction, and red indicates a battery fault.

Computer-based testing

Thanks to the advancement of information technologies, modern emergency lighting systems support a computer-based self-testing function. When using this type of testing, the computer automatically creates a test report bringing to zero the necessity of manually keeping the written records.

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Final words

In our article, we’ve attempted to present the basic aspects concerning the testing of emergency lighting systems while the topic is surely much wider.

However, we hope that the work we’ve done will be useful for our readers and that we’ve managed to achieve our main goal. This is to outline the paramount importance of testing emergency equipment for human health and safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I test my own emergency lighting?

The emergency lighting is subject to testing by an appointed responsible person who has control over a building. For example, if you are appointed to look after a building on behalf of all residents, you can be considered a ‘responsible person’.

However, for mandatory regular testing and if you’ve noticed damage, you should address to appointed professional agencies.

What are the OSHA requirements for emergency lighting testing?

According to OSHA requirements, emergency lights and exit signs shall be tested one time a month for 30 seconds, and one time a year for 90 minutes.

What is the routine test of emergency lighting?

A routine test of emergency lighting refers to scheduled examinations of emergency lights and exit signs to make sure that they are working correctly. They shall be conducted on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.

How to do an emergency lighting flick test?

A ‘flick’ test, also known as a ‘flash’ test, of emergency lights and exit signs shall be conducted monthly. To conduct this test the power of the entire building is turned on to check whether the emergency and exit lights continue to provide appropriate illumination.

The ‘flick’ test is conducted in a staged manner. This means that there is no need to conduct the ‘flick’ test of all emergency lights and exit signs simultaneously.

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