A closer look at self-test emergency lighting

At Ansell we would suggest that everyone, who operates or maintains buildings knows that emergency lighting systems facilitate a vital role in the safety and security of the occupants within a building, in providing much needed illumination in the event of the failure of mains power or if there is an emergency, where their optimum and continued performance can only be assured by the systematic testing and maintenance of the installation, with it being most important that building owners provide both an appropriate emergency lighting system alongside a testing and maintenance schedule in compliance of the regulations related to emergency lighting.

Previously, conventional techniques were used for the testing procedure which was reliant upon the manual process of a person undertaking the inspection and testing of lighting equipment and I am sure that many building owners would agree that, whilst these tasks are considered extremely important, they required additional resource, not always available due to other commitments, and it was always a possibility that this process was sometimes neglected on the part of person(s) tasked with undertaking this requirement. These limitations have now been removed from many buildings with the development and introduction of an emergency lighting system capable of undertaking an automatic testing procedure in compliance of the relevant standards.

The installation of an Automated Test System (ATS) removes the need for manual inspection and testing, in being a system which has the ability to carry out the routine testing requirements of emergency lighting luminaires, in line with the relevant standards, and then provide the completed test results, thereby saving building owners and operators significant time and cost.

There are two types of systems, those that perform testing on self-contained emergency luminaires, with built-in testing facilities to perform tests which are connected to a remote panel giving a proper indication of the test results and then centrally powered luminaire systems that perform tests on emergency luminaires, and which are connected to a central power supply system thereby giving a proper indication of results.

The design, operation and maintenance of the emergency lighting system is required to take account of the details within BS 5266-1:2016, the code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises alongside the standards of BS EN 1838:2013 on lighting applications for emergency lighting and BS EN 50172:2004 on emergency escape lighting systems.

BS EN 62034:2012 and IEC 62034:2012 on the automatic test systems for battery powered emergency escape lighting, both specify the basic performance and safety requirements for individual products and components that are incorporated into automatic test systems for use with emergency lighting systems on supply voltages not exceeding 1000 Volts and for this editorial, only the emergency lighting system utilising battery operated self-contained luminaires is being considered.

The Ansell Lighting Self-Test system is an intelligent emergency system, which is integral to each luminaire, and which conducts routine functional and duration testing in-line with the relevant standards, and therefore offers full compliance, with this self-test system fully eliminating the requirements of manual testing.

When the emergency lighting luminaire is initially installed, the fitting will randomly select a test date of between 200 and 365 days and once the installer has set the date, the fitting will continue to test at the same time every year for its full 3-hour test duration. Once the product has been connected to mains power and on charge for 24 hours, the luminaire will illuminate for 5 seconds for test purposes and every 30 days the installation will be tested for 10 minutes, after which the luminaire will show either regular function, or a fault as shown the details of which are shown below.

The test results are carried out by observation rather than manually testing each individual fitting, where there is no need to isolate the mains supply for testing, thereby ensuring minimal disruption to normal running of the site and with there being no possibility of missed scheduled tests, the automatic monthly and annual tests provide building compliance, ensuring adherence to all relevant emergency and automatic testing standards. Added benefit are that there are no requirements for key switches or data cables, where dedicated maintenance personnel are not required to initiate testing and inspection, only to record and rectify any faults.

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