emergency exit sign.

The UK has stricter legislation on emergency lighting than some other European countries. The guidance is outlined in the UK document BS 5266-1 or the code of practice for emergency lighting of premises. 


The guidelines apply to commercial premises, including hospitals and nursing homes, schools and colleges, hotels, clubs, restaurants, offices and multi-storey dwellings. 


Emergency Lighting Regulations


Emergency lighting is required to operate fully automatically, providing more than sufficient illumination to let people safely evacuate the premises.


The emergency lighting duration depends on the size and complexity of the building. Occupants must be evacuated immediately, and the emergency lighting should remain long enough to guide the people as they exit the premises.


Generally, the minimum duration of emergency escape lighting is one hour. The luminaires should stay on for at least an hour once the primary lighting system fails. For commercial premises that can’t be evacuated immediately, such as sleeping accommodations, emergency escape lighting should be on for at least three hours.


It’s crucial to comply with these regulations to make sure that people can reoccupy the building once the main supply is restored, in case the power fluctuates again, requiring the emergency lighting system. The UK standards mean that if the building experiences just a five-minute power failure, people can’t reenter the premises if the one-hour minimum emergency lighting duration requirement isn’t met. 


Commercial property owners should invest in high-quality, reliable solutions for their emergency lighting. Although the standard recommends types and durations for each emergency lighting category, these are only minimum requirements. The actual application may require higher specifications, depending on the building and number of occupants. 


LED lights are the best option when it comes to emergency lighting, compared to traditional fluorescent or incandescent luminaires. LEDs offer many benefits for commercial property owners, from energy efficiency to a guaranteed reliable emergency lighting system.


Below are some advantages of using LED lights for emergency lighting:


  1. Longer Lifespan

Quality LED lights last for a very long time, which is a quality you want in your emergency lighting. Since they don’t have a burning filament, LEDs can stay operational for almost 50,000 hours, 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs. 


  1. Durability and Maintenance

Testing and inspections are required for emergency lights, and LEDs are no exception. You have to conduct a monthly check to make sure that your emergency lights are functioning as they should. 


But for the most part, LED lights require minimal maintenance. Apart from the required testing and inspections, you only need to dust the outside of the luminaires and units to extend the light’s lifespan and prevent outages. 


LEDs are also highly durable. They’re made from sturdy components and are more firmly built than fluorescent lights, so they don’t break down quickly. Some LED lights are also resistant to water, shock and minimal external impact. These qualities make LED the perfect solution for emergency lighting, especially for outdoor applications. 


  1. Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings

The most significant advantage of LEDs is energy efficiency. Unlike incandescent lights that release 90 per cent of their energy as heat, LED lights don’t get hot. LEDs convert all their energy into light, making them more energy-efficient.


And since they don’t get hot, LED lights are also safer than other options. Incandescent lights can get hot quickly, enough to burn your finger if you touch them or cause paper to catch fire. This attribute also means that LED lights are compliant with the safety guidelines set by the Health and Safety Executive. According to HSE, lighting at work should not generate heat, glare or stroboscopic effects.


LED lights are the most economical lighting choice. Between their energy efficiency, long lifespan, durability and minimal maintenance, LEDs don’t require frequent replacements. Although the initial costs of LEDs may be higher than conventional lighting, they are cheaper to operate in the long run, giving you sizable cost savings.


  1. Brightness and Directional Lighting

Finally, LEDs offer superior lighting performance. They are available in a bright white colour, which produces a daylight-like illumination. This level of brightness provides maximum visibility on your emergency exit paths, ensuring the safety of the occupants as they evacuate. 


The light from LEDs can also be directed at specific areas, unlike halogen lights that illuminate in every direction. It makes LEDs ideal for directional lightings, such as spotlights and floodlights. These types of lighting fixtures guide people on where they should go in case of an emergency.


Below are other emergency lighting applicants where you can use LED lights.


Emergency Lighting Applications


Escape Route Lighting


These lights illuminate the escape route, guiding people who are leaving the premises. The brightness provided by LEDs keeps the pathways more than sufficiently lit. It helps occupants see their path and avoid accidents like tripping or bumping into objects and other people.


LED directional exit signs and bulkhead lighting are the most common types of escape route lighting. 


The amount of lighting depends on the size of the area and how often you will use the lights. Seek expert fire safety advice to determine how many and what kind of luminaires you’ll need as well as their ideal placements in your space.


Open Area Lighting


Open area lighting, also known as anti-panic lighting, ensures that there’s adequate illumination to allow people to reach the emergency exits safely. These lights are positioned in high-traffic areas like the lobby or hallways, where people are or might pass during an emergency.


Unlike escape route lighting that tends to be directional, the lights in open area emergency lighting radiate in every direction. It ensures maximum visibility, allowing building occupants to exit safely. 


High-Risk Task Area Lighting


This is required for industrial buildings and factories. Emergency lighting is necessary in areas where high-risk tasks are conducted, usually those that involve machinery and special tools. Workers in these areas need emergency lighting to shut down their equipment properly before exiting the premises safely. 


Standby Lighting


Standby lights supply adequate lighting, usually through an emergency power generator, to allow normal operations to continue. Unlike other types of emergency lighting, standby lighting isn’t required by law. The use of standby lighting depends on the nature of the business, the building and its occupants. 


To ensure that you have adequate emergency lights on your premises, consult an expert fire protection team for fire safety advice. Also, purchase high-quality LED lights from a reputable supplier only to ensure their lifespan and performance. 


Leading Provider of Lighting Solutions in the UK


LED Direct is a leading name in lighting solutions in the UK. Through our wide selection of lighting options, we provide residential and commercial clients with high-performing, cost-efficient emergency lighting solutions.


Find out more about our LED lighting options when you get in touch with us

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