What are the requirements for testing exit and emergency lighting?
- Faulty tube or globe: Check that the light globe isn’t damaged in anyway. Replace if necessary.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.