This section seeks to cover the basics of testing emergency lighting systems covering requirements and guidance to help rectify common faults which can occur. Please refer to recommended guidance notes and site-specific considerations when carrying out maintenance and testing.

Section 1: Testing Emergency Lighting

Responsibilities and Testing Procedures


The Regulatory Reform Order puts the legal responsibility for the provision, regular testing and on-going maintenance of emergency lighting installations firmly with the senior directors of the businesses occupying buildings. There are various levels of legislation calling for emergency lighting in almost all building types. The legislation includes the Work Place Directive (89/654), Building Regulations, Fire Safety in Hotels (86/666) etc. and these regulations specify that ‘adequate emergency lighting’ must be provided. To comply with these legal responsibilities it is essential that a formal risk assessment is carried out by a competent person.


To ensure that the emergency lighting is ‘adequate’ it is normal to refer to European and National standards and codes of practice such as:


  • BS2566 Parts 1-10 (includes EN1838)
  • EN50172 Emergency Escape Lighting Systems
  • BSEN60598.2.22 Emergency luminaire design and construction
  • TM 12 Basis of emergency lighting calculations
  • ICEL 1006 Emergency lighting design guide
  • ICEL1008 Emergency lighting risk assessment guide


The various parts of BS2566 cover the most important aspects of emergency lighting design, providing guidance on the positioning of luminaires and signs, minimum construction requirements, basic performance requirements and routine testing and maintenance schedules. BS5266 is also directly referred to in the Building Regulations and therefore has a direct link to current legislation.


Therefore BS5266 is an essential tool when conducting the initial risk assessment. Reference to the various ICEL documents such as ICEL1006 and ICEL1008 will assist the understanding of requirements and preparation of an initial risk assessment at the design stage.

Key Issues

The basic intention of an emergency lighting installation is when an emergency occurs to maintain safe illuminance of high-risk tasks, allow people to move safely to the escape routes, provide guidance to the most effective exit by using safety signs that are visible at every stage of the escape route and to illuminate the route to ensure rapid egress avoiding obstacles.


High-risk tasks such as rotating machines, moving blades, hot surfaces, etc. must remain illuminated 10% of the normal light level until the risk can be made safe. This light level must be achieved within 0.5 seconds after the normal power is lost, so the light source must be maintained or tungsten halogen.


System Testing Requirements

BS5266 & EN50172 set out the minimum requirements relating to in-service testing, maintenance and records. It is a requirement that all records are available for inspection identifying the following tests:



  • Visually check that all maintained lamps are operating and that all system healthy indicators on Central Power Supply Systems (sometimes called Central Battery Systems) are illuminated.
  • Check that any recorded system fault is given urgent attention and record all corrective actions in the logbook provided.



  • Check all luminaires and other emergency lighting equipment are in good condition, all lamps and light controllers are clean, undamaged and not blackened.
  • Briefly test all emergency lighting equipment by simulating a failure of the normal lighting supply. The test should not exceed a quarter of the equipment rated duration. Check that all equipment functions correctly.
  • Check that, upon restoring the mains supply, all supply healthy indicators are again illuminated.


Six Monthly

  • Carry out the inspection and testing as described in the monthly test schedule but conduct a test of the equipment for one-third of its rated duration.



  • A full system test should be conducted by a competent service engineer including a full rated duration test of the system.
  • Compliance of the installation and system with the requirements of BS 5266 should be considered and documented.


Automatic Testing Systems

Currently, there are no requirements for automatic emergency lighting test systems. However, EN 50172 proposes:- When automatic testing devices are used, the information should be recorded monthly. Full duration tests shall wherever possible be undertaken at times of low risk (building unoccupied). Automatic emergency lighting testing systems shall be designed, constructed and installed in accordance with EN62034.

Section 2:

Initial Installation Best Practice and Troubleshooting Guidance.

Initial Installation Requirements

To ensure ongoing satisfactory operation of all emergency luminaires the following basic care should be taken when installing new luminaires or replacing failed batteries:


  • Once luminaire is initially powered up to the permanent switched live supply, ensure the following commissioning checks are undertaken prior to completion:
    1. Confirm the mains healthy LED indicator lamp is lit on all luminaires.
    2. Confirm correct operation of all switching devices including presence detectors to ensure the permanent supply will remain live unless testing is being carried out or mains power fails.
    3. All lamps are in good working order.
  • Upon initial installation, the battery should be left disconnected until the 220/240v un-switched supply is fully assured, and any circuit testing has been carried out.
  • Allow a minimum of 24 hours provision of full power to the luminaire before any discharge of the battery takes places to ensure the battery is fully charged.
  • Allow a minimum of 48 Hours provision of full power to the luminaire before conducting a full three duration discharge test.


Common Fault finding Questions and Possible Causes

Q1. The emergency light fittings have been tested and they are not functioning in emergency mode for the full three hours.

Consider checking the following:

  • Have the battery packs been charging for a full 24 hour period?
  • Is the permanent supply remaining live when the building is unoccupied?
  • Have the batteries reached the end of their serviceable life? It is recommended to replace the batteries within self-contained luminaires after approx 4 years from the date of installation.

Q2. The lamp ends are blackening in the emergency luminaires or the lamps are failing prematurely.

  • Is it only occurring within the emergency luminaires?
  • If the answer is no the fault is likely to lie within the lamps themselves.
  • If the answer is yes confirm if all the mains power (including the permanent live supply) in the building is being switched off every night.

Q3. The charge healthy LED indicator is not illuminating.

If the charge healthy LED indicator is not illuminating check the following.

  • Is the permanent un-switched live supply present?
  • If the luminaire utilises a fused connector block confirm that the fuse has not blown as this will isolate the permanent supply from the inverter.
  • Is the battery connected up correctly?
  • Are the LED indicator connections secure within the luminaire?


If in doubt always contact a qualified electrician to check your electrical installation.

Should you require replacement emergency luminaires or batteries please feel free to contact us on 01727 836 695 and we will be glad to assist.

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