New Standards Set For Emergency & Exit Lighting Legislation

Standards Australia has set new building regulations for emergency and exit lighting requirements. Effective January 2016, the new legislation includes the mandatory installation of a new test switch when an existing emergency or exit light is being changed over by an electrician, to a fitting that is not the same type, in the same location and same wattage as the current one; this falls under clause 1.7 of AS2293.1.

AS/NZS 2293 Emergency Lighting for Buildings covers three parts:

Part (i) Installation
Part (ii) Maintenance
Part (iii) Performance of Luminaires

Changes to any part of the emergency and exit lighting standards (AS2293.1) must be implemented by Facility and Property Managers, for building compliance.

Although the changes are substantial, in this article we are covering only manually tested Single Point Systems (the most common type).

Single Point Emergency and Exit Lighting Systems were implemented in the 1990’s. In 2012, emergency and exit lighting became a national standard, following the publication of the AS/NZS 3000:2007 Amendment 2 and AS 2293.1.

What are the changes associated with Emergency & Exit Lighting for Property Managers?

For properties under your management, there are four main changes that will impact the cost of replacing, or installing additional emergency and exit lights. These changes don’t need to be implemented during the six monthly testing, these changes need only apply when:

(i) a new fitting is added, or
(ii) an existing fitting is replaced with a new fitting, that is different from the current one

1. Circuit Monitoring

Circuit monitoring must be applied to an added circuit, or when a fitting is replaced. The intent is to provide lighting when there is a loss of general lighting, to allow a person to vacate a section of the building.

How it works
Upon failure of the electrical supply to any lighting circuit within a building, circuit monitoring will detect that a lighting circuit has been de-energised and will automatically activate the emergency and exit lighting. Once the lighting circuit has re-energised, the emergency and exit lighting will de-activate and return to charging state.

2. Emergency Test Switch

An emergency test switch must be applied to an added circuit, or when a fitting is replaced.

How it works
An emergency test switch is used as a manual test facility. The buttons on the test switch are used for testing purposes (i.e. enable/disable prolong, set duration time, enable/disable monitoring lines). For six month scheduled testing, the test switch is used to control the emergency and exit lighting without affecting any other part of the electrical installation.

3. Dedicated Emergency & Exit Circuits

Any emergency or exit fitting added or replaced to a circuit, must be on a dedicated circuit for emergency and exit lighting only. If this existing circuit is mixed (e.g. the same circuit as general lighting or power) it must be rewired on a dedicated circuit, back to an emergency test switch.

4. RCD’s for Emergency & Exit Circuits

RCD’s are no longer a mandatory requirement for emergency and exit lighting circuits. In the past if an emergency or exit light was replaced and the circuit was not RCD protected, there were additional costs for installing an RCD.

To avoid the occurrence of a faulty tube or globe, faulty switch, battery or charging unit it’s important to perform routine electrical maintenance of exit and emergency lighting and equipment.

 

Prolux Electrical Contractors abide by the highest codes of practice in the electrical industry.

Call us today on 1800 800 880 for a non-obligation quotation on how we can achieve maximum efficiency and safety for the buildings you manage.

Exit and Emergency Lighting Tests

What are the requirements for testing exit and emergency lighting?

  1. Faulty tube or globe: Check that the light globe isn’t damaged in anyway. Replace if necessary.
  2. Faulty switching: Disconnect the existing battery and connect a ‘fully charged’ battery (of the same type or voltage). Test the switch/circuit breaker, if the light fails to illuminate then the switch is faulty and will need to be repaired or replaced.
  3. Faulty charging circuit: Disconnect the battery and check its voltage by connecting a voltmeter on dc volts across the positive and negative output terminals of the circuit board. The voltage will read between one volt and that of ten volts higher than the battery. If it’s a faulty charger circuit then the voltage will be overly high, lower than the voltage of the battery or have no voltage at all. It will need repairing or replacing. Connect an ammeter on dc amps in series with the positive lead of a fresh battery to check the current flowing to the battery. To do this connect the red lead of the meter on the positive battery output terminal of the circuit board and the black lead of the meter to the positive side of the battery, while the negative lead of the battery is connected to the negative output battery terminal of the circuit board. The current flow should read between 120 milliamps and 400 milliamps or .12amp to .4amp. If the reading is below .12amp or there is no current flow at all then it has a faulty charger circuit and it will have to be repaired or replaced.
  4. Faulty battery: The battery life in an exit or emergency light is anywhere between three to five years duration, depending on the type of battery used, fixtures/fittings, location of light and the lighting operation conditions. Check the battery’s condition first, is it distorted or leaking? A faulty (existing) battery can still show a correct test result, voltage current flow, but may not be holding its charge correctly.

NOTE: After conducting any work on any exit or emergency lighting it should be rechecked on power fail and a duration test should also be performed after replacing and charging (24 hours) the batteries.


Electrical Maintenance of exit and emergency lighting and equipment

Electrical Maintenance testing should be carried out every six months, along with duration testing, for a minimum of 90 minutes, as per the guidelines outlined in the emergency evacuation lighting in buildings Part 2 – inspection and maintenance.

The test results are to be logged in the relevant evacuation logbook for future reference and performance analysis of simulated mains failure and battery performance.

Discharging of lights is advised by turning off the corresponding circuit breaker, not via an emergency light discharge facility.

When it’s necessary for the batteries to be replaced, the system shall be recommissioned, fully charged and a duration test carried out, to ensure correct operation of the system.

Exit Signs & Exit Lights – The regulations Building Managers need to know

On May 1st, 2014 an amendment to E4.8 of the National Construction Code of Australia (NCC) was implemented, permitting the use of photoluminescent (PL) exit lights and signs. All PL exit signs must now have a dedicated, uninterrupted light source and emergency luminaire backup. An escape or exit sign luminaire maintained in operation does comply with the current regulations and is the preferred option for this purpose.

How should PL exit signs be used?
This has been an area of concern amongst electricians, building owners and building managers, as to how PL exit signs may be used. When installing a PL exit sign, it also requires the installation of two additional luminaires. It firstly stipulates that a PL exit sign must have a dedicated, uninterrupted light source continuously illuminating 100 lux onto the face of the sign and secondly, that an emergency luminaire must be installed within 2 metres of an exit door or where there is a dedicated point of entry/exit. Unlike electrically powered exit signs, PL material cannot achieve a light output to be classified as an emergency luminaire, so the additional emergency luminaire is essential for it to stay well lit and for the required duration of 60 minutes following a power failure.

What are the safety and legal regulations?
Exit and emergency lighting, or escape lights are an essential occupational health and safety device. Therefore, there are legal requirements which must be complied with; the NCC and AS/NZS 2293.1 and the WH&S legislation. In Victoria the maximum penalties for a corporation are $1.3 million dollars and $625,000 respectively, and significant financial penalties and possible imprisonment are imposed for serious breaches by an individual.

What are the costs associated with Luminaire LED and PL exit signs?
The installation costs associated with the two additional luminaires does have a significant price impact. The supply and installation cost of a standard LED exit sign is approximately $250, with the ongoing energy costs of $3.16 per year. The supply and installation cost of a PL exit sign, accompanying emergency light and separate luminating light source is approximately $550, with the ongoing energy costs of around $21.56 per year. In addition to these costs, there are the expenses associated with the ongoing maintenance. (A detailed breakdown is available from Lighting Council of Australia.)

*Lighting Council Australia

Call Prolux Electrical Contractors on 1800 800 880 for a no obligation discussion on how we can provide you with programmed electrical maintenance for the buildings you manage.