Emergency Lighting Testing

We are fully trained and approved installers on Emergency Lighting, and are able to test and maintain current installations.

  • Emergency Lights require a 3 hour test to be carried out annually.
  • A 1 hour duration test needs to be carried out every six months.
  • A monthly flick test is required to ensure batteries and light fittings are operational.

Emergency Lighting is essential in the event of a fire or power failure, and enables staff, visitors and customers to find emergency exits and escape routes, should the need arise.

What is the difference between a maintained and
non-maintained fitting?

Maintained fitting – will operate as a normal light fitting and be controlled with all the other lights in the area, however when the power fails the maintained emergency fitting will continue to operate but, at a lower light level.

Non-maintained fitting – is normally switched off, with its batteries being continuously charged and a green LED showing fully charged. When the power fails then the fitting switches on using its battery supply. Non-maintained fittings are not part of the general lighting but are fittings such as emergency exit signs.

Combined emergency luminaire: a luminaire containing two or more lamps, at least one of which is energized from the emergency lighting supply and the other(s) from the normal lighting supply. A combined emergency luminaire can be either maintained or non-maintained.

Compound self-contained emergency luminaire: a luminaire providing maintained or non-maintained emergency lighting and also the emergency power supply to a satellite luminaire.

Satellite emergency luminaire: a luminaire for maintained or non-maintained operation and which derives its emergency operation supply from an associated compound self-contained emergency luminaire.

Types of Emergency Lighting

Emergency escape lighting – that part of an emergency lighting system that provides illumination for the safety of people leaving a location or attempting to terminate a potentially dangerous process beforehand. It is part of the fire safety provision of a building and a requirement of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Standby lighting– that part of an emergency lighting system provided to enable normal activities to continue substantially unchanged. This guide does not include standby lighting as it is not a legal requirement and is a facility that may or may not be needed, depending on the use and occupancy of the premises, etc.

Emergency escape lighting is itself sub-divided into escape route lighting, open area lighting and high risk task area lighting.

Escape route lighting – that part of an emergency escape lighting system provided to ensure that the means of escape can be effectively identified and safely used by occupants of the building.

Open area lighting (in some countries known as anti-panic lighting) – that part of an emergency escape lighting system provided to minimise panic and ensure there is sufficient illumination to allow the occupants of a building to reach a place where an escape route can be identified.

High risk task area lighting – that part of an emergency escape lighting system that provides illumination for the safety of people involved in a potentially dangerous process or situation and to enable proper shut-down procedures for the safety of the operator and other occupants of the premises.

Servicing and testing explained

To test an emergency lighting system, a mains power failure on the normal lighting circuit / circuits or individual luminaries must be simulated. This will force the emergency lighting system to operate via the battery supply. This test can be carried out manually or automatically.

Manual testing

A simulated mains failure can be achieved by providing a switch to isolate all lighting circuits / individual circuits / individual luminaires. If manual testing is utilised, the following points should be considered:

In a system with a single switch for the whole building or a large circuit, after simulating the mains failure it is necessary for the tester to walk the whole building or circuit, to check all emergency luminaire are operating correctly. After restoring the mains supply, the whole building or circuit must be walked again, to check that the emergency lights are recharging.

If the emergency luminaires are individually switched, only a single walk around the building will be needed. However, the test switches could spoil the decor of the building and they must be of a type that is tamper proof. After the tests, it is recommended that the performance of the system is logged in the fire safety logbook.

Automatic testing

If the costs of an engineer’s time and the disruption caused by manual testing are excessive, self-testing emergency lighting should be considered. Different formats are available to match particular site requirements. However, the results of the monthly and annual tests must still be recorded.

General information about emergency lighting testing

BS EN 50172:2004 / BS 5266-8:2004 (Emergency escape lighting systems) specifies the minimum provision and testing of emergency lighting for different premises. Additional information on servicing can be found in BS 5266-1: 2011 (Code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises).

The system should include adequate facilities for testing the system condition. These need to be appropriate for the specific site and should be considered as part of the system design. Discussions with the user or system designer should identify the calibre and reliability of staff available to do the testing and the level of difficulty in performing the test

Discharge tests need to be undertaken outside normal working hours. In buildings that are permanently occupied, the test should be phased so only alternate luminaires are tested.

When automatic testing devices (self-testing emergency lights) are used, the information shall be recorded monthly and annually. For all other systems, the tests shall be carried out as described below and the results recorded.

Regular servicing is essential. The occupier / owner of the premises shall appoint a competent person to supervise servicing of the system. This person shall be given sufficient authority to ensure the carrying out of any work necessary to maintain the system in correct operational mode.

Routine inspections and tests

Where national regulations do not apply, the following shall be met:

Because of the possibility of a failure of the normal lighting supply occurring shortly after a period of testing of the emergency lighting system or during the subsequent recharge period, all full duration tests shall, wherever possible, be undertaken just before a time of low risk to allow for battery recharge. Alternatively, suitable temporary arrangements shall be made until the batteries have been recharged.

The following minimum inspections and tests shall be carried out at the intervals recommended below. The regulating authority may require specific tests.

Daily emergency lighting inspection (only for central back-up systems)

This check only applies to emergency lighting systems with one central back-up battery system. In this case, there is a daily visual inspection of indicators on the central power supply to identify that the system is operational. No test of operation is required. This test does not apply to emergency lighting with self-contained back-up batteries in each unit (standard emergency lighting).

Monthly emergency lighting tests

All emergency lighting systems must be tested monthly. The test is a short functional test in accordance with BS EN 50172:2004 / BS 5266-8:2004.

The period of simulated failure should be sufficient for the purpose of this test while minimising damage to the system components, e.g. lamps. During this period, all luminaires and signs shall be checked to ensure that they are present, clean and functioning correctly.


A test for the full rated duration of the emergency lights (e.g. 3 hours) must be carried out. The emergency lights must still be working at the end of this test.

The result must be recorded and, if failures are detected, these must be remedied as soon as possible.