When installing emergency lights in a commercial facility, it is important to abide by NEC codes as well as the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101). NEC article 700 covers the requirements for emergency light installation and wiring. This type of fixture consists of a circuit and electrical equipment that supplies illumination when the building's main power supply is no longer available. buildings do not always require a source of backup power, just a source of backup illumination to make evacuation as easy as possible. These emergency systems are generally installed in areas such as theaters, hotels, hospitals, and any other commercial building with a large number of occupants.


The Life Safety Code addresses the issue of how many emergency lights are required and how they must be placed according to the occupancy of the building. Medium to large buildings require lighting along all points of egress because not every occupant is familiar with the building's layout. Areas such as corridors, escalators, and stairways must be lit in the event of an emergency. This is why emergency lights are not required in residences - there are a small number of occupants and they already know how to get out.

NEC also mandates that battery operated emergency lights are to be tested every month and every year. These tests must be performed by hand and kept as a written result. The monthly test requires a 30 second test, while the yearly test must last for 90 minutes - the full time for the minimum capacity of all emergency fixtures. These tests are conducted by pressing the side-mounted button to simulate a power outage. Of course, it is not feasible to press the test button for a full 90 minutes, so it is recommended that the entire building's power is cut and the emergency lights are examined toward the end of the required time.


Although the requirements for emergency light maintenance may seem daunting, it's the law. If your building's emergency lighting system is not up to par, harsh fines can be incurred or lawsuits can be brought up if someone is injured during an emergency.

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