7 points to consider when buying emergency lighting
1. Think about the building
Consider the building, emergency lighting should reflect the character of the building that it is going into. A small corner shop probably would not want a large chrome DALI emergency exit sign. But if you are installing in a large shop on Oxford road, London then perhaps that requires something special. Buildings are used for a purpose and your emergency lighting adds or detracts from that, so be sympathetic to the surroundings.
There are many styles of exit signs from plain boxes to exclusive shiny all singing and dancing ones, make sure you choose one that fits in.
2. Environmental Conditions
Is your emergency lighting going outside? How hot will it get? How cold will it get? Does it need to be protected from impacts? Questions that you need to ask. If a light is to be mounted outside then a minimum specification is that it needs to be IP65 (weatherproof), this will stop the most of the rain from getting inside it, providing that when you install you seal the mounting fixings and cable entries correctly.
Some Weatherproof Emergency Lights
Temperature- If you know the luminaire is going to get hot or cold then you need to ensure that it will handle those environments. Most emergency luminaires temperature ranges are governed by the internal batteries which are in the range of 0°C to +25°C. However manufactures can use special batteries giving a much broader range.
Physical- Some physical protection may be required if you are installing in sports halls or places prone to vandalism. Sometimes a wire cage can be added to protect the emergency light from being tampered with or smashed when hit with a ball.
If you are installing a twinspot 6 meters up a wall, you want to make sure that you don’t have to go back to it in a months time. Stick to modern LED light sources so that you won’t have to change any lamps as this is more often than not what is required for maintenance.
Most manufacturers will give a 3 year warranty on the fitting itself (not the lamp or battery) so ensure that this is a minimum and keep your paperwork as proof of purchase.
You also need to consider testing the lights. As there is a legal requirement to test on a regular basis, it is best to install a special key switch so that you can easily test and write down the results in your logs.
4. Viewing distance
All emergency exit signs have a maximum distance that they can be legibly viewed from, see our short guide here. When you are deciding on what emergency exit sign to install, go the the furthermost point in the room that the sign will cover and measure back to where it will be, you can then calculate what size of sign is needed.
If the distance is too big for a sign then you may need to have additional signs half way along the route.
Lighting technology updates come thick and fast so it is wise to buy the best you can so that it will last as long as possible. Do not buy fluorescent Luminaires they have now been superseded with LED light sources, which last longer and are now providing more light per reduced power requirement.
If you have a large building you may want to consider self testing or DALI luminaires that can report back their status, this will make completing your daily/monthyl/yearly checks such a breeze. Otherwise you are going to have to walk your building and check each one.
The cost of emergency lighting isn’t just buying and installing, you need to think about the running cost as it will be permanently on for years. The emergency light will be connected to the mains, ensuring that the battery is fully charged 365 days a year. You want to know what the power usage is of the emergency light so that you can calculate the total cost of ownership.
It may be better to buy a more expensive emergency light if it has a lower running cost.
When checking out who to buy from, ensure that they can give you support. Installation sometimes it’s not always as easy as
- screw light to wall
- connect wires
Sometimes you will need to check and configure a microwave sensor or ensure that the luminaire has passed it’s commissioning tests.
It’s always reassuring that there is someone there at the end of a telephone, to call when needed.