Emergency lighting is critical to safety in a wide range of different applications, especially in environments where there is a risk of power failures. While non-emergency lighting tends to use mains/AC power (or through a generator if the site is off-grid), emergency lighting is designed to provide light when the primary power source fails. Although there are different methods in how this back-up is supplied, such as through a central battery system or standby generator, the simplest and most common way is to use self-contained emergency luminaires. These emergency luminaires have their own back-up power source designed to initiate when the primary power source fails.
Emergency lighting standard
The AS2293 standard for emergency lighting, combined with the Building Codes of Australia (BCA), state that on commissioning emergency lighting should last for 120 minutes and should exceed 90 minutes duration throughout its life. This functionality should be tested and logged every 6 months. More advanced intelligent emergency lighting ranges such as Raytec SPARTAN LEDs have been designed to reduce the testing and maintenance workload placed on site owners by Australia’s building codes and lighting standards. The intelligent power supplies incorporated into Raytec’s luminaires automatically tests the emergency systems of the fixture on a semi-random periodic basis. The randomised aspect of the testing ensures that there is never a period when all of the site luminaires are on test at one time, whilst maintaining the test interval required by AS2293.
The results of these tests are reported via an LED on the front of the unit which quickly indicates to the operators on site whether the status is good – green, in test mode – amber, or requires intervention – red. This simple system removes the requirement to fully power down the circuit for 90 minutes and check that each and every luminaire is still functioning after 90 minutes. This is replaced by a simple walk around to check the LED status light.
What happens when your emergency lighting fails?
The issue with conventional battery backup lighting is that testing is only performed every 6 months. If a unit fails between that period there is no indication that it has done so. The only way to find out is if there is a mains power failure and the units don’t work, at which point it is already too late.
The Raytec SPARTAN intelligent emergency system provides a self-testing function which automatically tests the battery every 7 days to check its health and measure its capacity. A complete system test is carried out every three months to ensure full compliance with AS2293. If during either a full test or a 7 day check, the system detects a problem with the battery, it will start a maintenance cycle. This is a reconditioning process for the battery involving several charge and discharge cycles. Once complete, the system re-runs a thorough test to confirm full functionality. This process extends battery life and further reduces maintenance loading.
Why is intelligent emergency lighting important?
One of the main reasons emergency lighting fails is that it is not properly commissioned in the first place. On commissioning, battery backup luminaires should be fully charged and then left to discharge for 24 hours, three times. In practice, this rarely happens on an operational site, especially in retrofit applications. This means you are starting with a battery that is already in poor health.
The intelligent power supplies in Raytec’s fittings are designed to eliminate this problem. They automatically initiate the commissioning sequence on first start and monitor battery life to ensure optimum battery performance at all times.
Secondly, the Raytec SPARTAN Intelligent Emergency system maintains 100% light output during testing further reducing risk on site and allowing work to continue while the tests are carried out. In order to allow work to be carried out safely during testing, the battery level never drops below 1/3 capacity; this means that even in power failure during testing the units will have a full hour of light output.