An important aspect of any industrial facility, irrespective of its nature of work, is emergency lighting. It is especially important for factories which work in a hazardous environment.
Importance of Emergency Lighting
The importance of emergency lighting lies in the variety of functions that it performs. As the name suggests, this kind of lighting is crucial for situations that can appear unannounced. They are an indispensable part of a local or regional evacuation plan and are sometimes used as part of a larger disaster response plan. In a hazardous environment, emergency lighting provides illumination when the main power source has failed to ensure the smooth functioning of all operational aspects.
You can learn more about emergency lighting and its importance in our article A complete guide to emergency lighting.
Importance of Emergency lighting maintenance
Non-emergency luminaires are used under normal circumstances. Hence, any faults arising in these lighting fixtures are easier to understand. There will be a loss of light output, which can then be fixed.
However, emergency lights are used under circumstances that are special and unforeseen. There may be dire consequences if they fail to perform properly. Moreover, since emergency lighting fixtures are not used regularly, identifying any faults in them can be difficult.
Herein lies the importance of conducting regular maintenance of such kinds of light fixtures. It is a good practice to have a documented testing procedure for conducting regular emergency lighting maintenance.
Regular emergency lighting maintenance not only ensures these kinds of lighting perform their main functions of providing illumination during unforeseen circumstances, but it also ensures that these lighting fixtures perform at their best, should such needs arise.
Methods of emergency lighting maintenance
Most hazardous areas use LED lighting nowadays, which has a longer lifetime. Although this means even the emergency luminaires have a longer life, frequent inspection and testing can elongate their life further.
Most emergency lighting systems derive their power from a battery storage system. Batteries are consumable items with a requirement to be replaced every 5-7 years. Their longevity is largely dependent on how well they are maintained.
Generally, emergency lighting maintenance involves 2 important steps:
1. Emergency lighting storage
Emergency lighting fixtures are not used during day-to-day operations. Their usage is limited to emergencies only. Hence, they need to be stored during normal operations.
Proper storage is important since this ensures the longevity of the lighting components. It is important to store the emergency lights in an area that will not be exposed to extreme temperatures or moisture levels. They should also be checked regularly for corrosion or damage so that any issues that may arise can be taken care of immediately.
The batteries can get discharged if left connected to the system, which can stunt their performance significantly. Hence it is better to keep unused batteries disconnected to prevent drainage. Storage-battery systems should be tested according to their manufacturer’s recommendations.
2. Inspection and testing
Regular inspection and testing are an integral part of maintenance since this increases the longevity of the battery. The extent of such inspection and testing depends on the specification of the battery and the requirement of cycling the battery in normal operations.
For example, some manufacturers may ship emergency luminaires with the battery fully charged and disconnected. The battery manual may require the user to discharge the battery and then recharge it again to optimise the performance of the battery. However such requirements may vary from one manufacturer to another.
Testing of emergency lighting should be conducted regularly. This involves switching off the main power source and turning on all emergency lighting to check if they are working properly. This can help avoid chaos and confusion when an actual emergency arises.
The dos and don’ts of emergency lighting maintenance
To sum up, let us take a look at some of the dos and don’ts:
- Before installation of emergency lighting fixtures, check if they have any specific conditioning procedures.
- Establish a testing procedure which meets the maintenance requirement of the battery or the luminaire.
- Establish a consistent power source for the luminaire to keep the battery charged.
- Always ensure replacement batteries have the hazardous area certification.
- Leave the battery connected to the luminaire while in storage.
- Assume the performance of the battery or the luminaire will remain consistent over the years. Batteries are consumable items and their performance diminishes over time.
- Charge the batteries using other power resources, apart from the PSU provided by the unit.
- Purchase replacement batteries from other sources. Replacement batteries must always be purchased from the manufacturer of the batteries.