Emergency Lighting Retrofit – Is It Time to Upgrade?

by | Oct 26, 2023 | 0 comments |

Is your building’s emergency lighting functioning properly? If you can’t answer this question, you are like a lot of commercial building owners and managers. Emergency lighting is often overlooked until it is needed.

If you are unsure about the state of your emergency lighting, now is the perfect time to start thinking about a retrofit. An emergency lighting retrofit can be complicated. Everything from fixtures and battery life to rules and compliance regulations must be considered. This is why it is always best to partner with the professionals. They will ensure your retrofit emergency lighting project meets all codes and regulations.

Before you start an emergency lighting retrofit project, it’s always best to have a general idea of what it entails.

Who Creates and Enforces Emergency Lighting Regulations

Multiple government agencies at federal and local levels are responsible for setting and enforcing emergency lighting codes for commercial buildings.

The three primary ones are,

  • The S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards, and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. Employers must comply with all applicable OSHA guidelines.
  • The National Fire Prevention Association’s (NFPA) Life Safety Code is the most widely used source of protocols used to protect people based on building construction, protection, and occupancy features that minimize the effects of fire and related hazards.
  • The International Building Code (IBC), developed by the International Code Council (ICC), has been adopted for use by most U.S. jurisdictions. It preserves public health and safety by providing safeguards from hazards associated with the built environment.

Each of these agencies also has specific regulations regarding emergency lighting in commercial buildings. For example, an IBC code regulates the required lumens in an emergency lighting system designed to illuminate pathways, ramps, and stairwells leading to emergency exits.

Local agencies will also have emergency lighting codes in place that commercial building owners and managers must follow.

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Why Your Building Needs More Than Standard Emergency Lighting

Bug-eyes light kits are a common type of emergency lighting used in all types of buildings. The small round lights are enough to illuminate the space in front of and around emergency exits. This type of emergency lighting gets its name from its size and shape. However, an emergency light with only a one-foot candle is not enough for the entire building.

This type of emergency lighting also doesn’t function well in other places like,

  • Offices with open floor plans. Dividers, filing cabinets, columns, and equipment can block the light.
  • Hospital corridors require sufficient lighting so patients and staff can navigate safely through crowded hallways
  • Large warehouses require plenty of emergency lighting to allow everyone to safely find the nearest emergency exit.

The Importance of Having Adequate Emergency Lighting

As the building owner and/or manager, it is your responsibility to create a safe environment in the event of an emergency. This means making it easy for everyone to navigate their way to the emergency exit.

Ceiling-mounted emergency lights equipped with long-lasting batteries can provide occupants with close to normal lighting conditions when the power goes out.

Why is emergency lighting vital? Along with ensuring everyone can safely navigate obstacles, it also directs all occupants to the closest emergency door. Remember, not everyone will be familiar with the building’s layout and emergency lighting will help guide them to safety.

Emergency Lighting Can Reduce Panic

When building lights go out, panic is a normal response. However, it is the last thing you want in an emergency. What causes panic? Extensive studies have been done on the subject, including one in 2004. The findings of the Heide study identify common panic triggers that include,

  • The individual perceives a threat of being trapped in an enclosed space
  • Escape and exit routes seem to be rapidly closing
  • The only perceived way to survive is by fleeing the building
  • No one is around to help

Almeida, E. et al (2008) note that people unfamiliar with a facility’s layout often try to leave the building through the door they used for entry, instead of the emergency exit.

Herding behavior is common in an emergency. This is when people become disoriented and form a group that can often act irresponsibly.

An emergency lighting retrofit can address these common behaviors by ensuring all exit routes are well-lit. This may also be the time to consider an exit sign retrofit.

Action Services Group offers fully turn-key Life Safety Lighting Services on a national, reginal, and local level. If your organization is interested in developing a Life Safety Lighting Service plan, you can schedule a call that fits your needs here.

Retrofit Emergency Lighting Solutions

Some emergency lighting solutions often include installing high-bay fixtures. High-bay emergency lighting fixtures deliver adequate light to hallways, pathways, stairwells, and other routes to emergency exits.

During your exit sign retrofit, consider installing an emergency backup battery. The battery will power the emergency lights even when the power is out.

You may also want to install LED surge protection. Electrical storms can cause power surges that damage your LED emergency lights.

Don’t forget to test your LED emergency lighting. Our team at Action Services Group will ensure your emergency lighting system is working properly and meets all federal and local codes.

Partner with the Professionals for Your Emergency Lighting Retrofit

A lot goes into an emergency lighting retrofit. To save yourself time, frustration, and money, it is best to work with professionals. Contact Action Services Group today to learn more about emergency lighting and learn what we can do to ensure your building is up to code and safe for all occupants. Call 610-558-9773, email [email protected] or schedule a call to discuss your options.


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