Emergency Light Testing

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Emergency Light Testing

Willmott Property Support Ltd offers the following services:

Emergency Light testing – Monthly and Annual 3 hour certified
Emergency light – installation and replacement
Emergency light – servicing


To test an emergency lighting system, a mains power failure on the normal lighting circuit / circuits or individual luminaries must be simulated. This will force the emergency lighting system to operate via the battery supply. This test can be carried out manually or automatically.

Manual testing

A simulated mains failure can be achieved by providing a switch to isolate all lighting circuits / individual circuits / individual luminaires. If manual testing is utilised, the following points should be considered:

In a system with a single switch for the whole building or a large circuit, after simulating the mains failure it is necessary for the tester to walk the whole building or circuit, to check all emergency luminaire are operating correctly. After restoring the mains supply, the whole building or circuit must be walked again, to check that the emergency lights are recharging.

If the emergency luminaires are individually switched, only a single walk around the building will be needed. However, the test switches could spoil the decor of the building and they must be of a type that is tamper proof. After the tests, it is recommended that the performance of the system is logged in the fire safety logbook.

Automatic testing

If the costs of an engineer’s time and the disruption caused by manual testing are excessive, self-testing emergency lighting should be considered. Different formats are available to match particular site requirements. However, the results of the monthly and annual tests must still be recorded.The code of practice for emergency lighting BS5266-1 has recently been revised and came into effect in May 2016.

As a result the revised edition of BS5266-1 includes recommendations and guidance for a stay put strategy.

For some premises, Particularly those in locations vulnerable to frequent power supply interruptions, A STAY PUT strategy may be the most appropriate option. However where premises implement such a system the safety of persons remaining must not be comprised.

BS 5266-1:2016 Emergency lighting – Part 1: Code of practice for the emergency escape lighting of premises.

BS 5266-1:2016 gives recommendations and guidance on the factors that need to be considered in the design of, and the installation and wiring of, electrical emergency escape lighting systems, in order to provide the lighting performance needed for safe movement of people in the event of the supply to normal lighting failing. It also gives recommendations for lighting in areas with fixed seating.

What is emergency lighting?

Lighting that automatically comes on when the power supply to the normal lighting provision fails.

Emergency lighting is a general term and is sub-divided into emergency escape lighting and standby lighting.

Emergency escape lighting – that part of an emergency lighting system that provides illumination for the safety of people leaving a location or attempting to terminate a potentially dangerous process beforehand. It is part of the fire safety provision of a building and a requirement of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Emergency Exit Light

Open area lighting (in some countries known as anti-panic lighting) – that part of an emergency escape lighting system provided to minimise panic and ensure there is sufficient illumination to allow the occupants of a building to reach a place where an escape route can be identified.

Bulkhead emergency lighting

High risk task area lighting – that part of an emergency escape lighting system that provides illumination for the safety of people involved in a potentially dangerous process or situation and to enable proper shut-down procedures for the safety of the operator and other occupants of the premises.
Consultation and design

The first stage of installing emergency escape lighting is consultation and design. The designer, responsible person and fire risk assessor should meet and decide where the escape lighting is required and mark up a plan showing the areas to be covered, the type (power supply), mode of operation, facilities and duration.

Type (power supply)

Self-Contained – Single Point


The installation is faster and cheaper
Standard wiring material may be used. Failure of mains supply due to cable
burn-through will automatically satisfy the requirement for a luminaire to be lit
Low maintenance costs – periodic test and general cleaning only required
Low hardware equipment costs – no requirement for extended wiring, special ventilation etc.
The integrity of the system is greater because each luminaire is independent of the others
System can easily be extended with additional luminaires
No special sub-circuit monitoring requirements


The environmental conditions will vary throughout the system and batteries may be adversely affected by a relatively high or low ambient temperature
Battery life is limited to between 2 and 4 years, dependent upon the application
Testing requires isolation and observation of luminaires on an individual basis

In general, the decision to use either a central battery or a self-contained system is likely to be cost determined. If an installation has longevity and low maintenance as priorities, then the higher cost of a central battery may be acceptable on a very large project. Typically, luminaire and installation costs are a major consideration, particularly on smaller jobs, and it is this criterion which makes the self-contained luminaire the most popular choice.