Home>A guide to emergency and exit lighting

A guide to emergency and exit lighting

We’re all familiar with them: the green illuminated rectangle that adorns doorways and entrances in every single commercial space, office, or retail store.

But when does a space require emergency and exit lighting? It can be hard to find a simple answer online, so we’re here to help you determine whether a public or commercial space needs exit lighting. We’ve also answered some common questions you might be tempted to ask.

Do I need emergency and exit lighting?

There are two general rules you should know:

    • If the floor area of the space is more than 300m2, then emergency and exit lighting is required
    • Every fire-isolated stairway, ramp, or passageway requires emergency lighting

Electrician Moorabbin exit lighting

Building classes

Emergency and exit lighting requirements vary depending on the “class” of a building.

As per Australian building codes, there are 10 classes of buildings, each with their own distinctive parameters. You can view an easy-to-understand table outlining the various types of building classes here.

A hotel, for example, would likely be classified as a Class 3 building, whereas a parking lot, say, at a shopping centre or in the city, would likely be a Class 7a building.

Who is responsible for the correct installation of exit lighting?

Generally, the owner of the building or the building manager is responsible for the correct and safe installation of exit and emergency lighting.

How do you install an emergency exit light?

As there are strict guidelines guiding the proper placement and installation of exit and emergency lighting, it’s not something even an enthusiastic DIY-er should attempt. Instead, let our local electricians in Melbourne safely plan, install, and maintain your exit lighting.

First, our electricians determine the best location for the exit light based on safety needs and local fire codes, then mounts it securely to the wall or ceiling.

Then, we connect it to its own power source, typically housed within the wall or nearby junction box. As these lights need to be illuminated at all times, an uninterrupted source of power is essential.

The chosen fixture must also be wired correctly into the electrical system and accompanied with suitable switches that facilitate easy activation in case of emergency.

Where should emergency exit lights be placed?

Installing emergency exit lights correctly is crucial in ensuring the safety of all buildings, no matter the size. It is particularly important to have easily identifiable and visible light sources as each second counts in an emergency evacuation.

To maximise visibility, it’s best practice to place emergency exit lights near the top of a wall or above an exit door.

Properly placed and maintained emergency exit lights are essential for any escape plan, so make sure you take appropriate measures to ensure your building has accurate placement!

The rules are very particular, and it’s important that they are precisely followed. Our skilled electricians have the knowledge and expertise to ensure your exit and emergency lighting is installed to code.

Emergency and exit lighting inspection and maintenance

It’s important to know that not only are regular inspections mandatory, but data needs to be logged in the form of a hard copy, logbook, or electronic copy.

Six months

Every six months, commercial exit and emergency lighting must be tested for defective bulbs, to ensure lights are working as intended, and to perform an emergency lighting test. If any fails are recorded they must be repaired or replaced. When the test is passed, a compliance certificate is presented and the pass is recorded.

12 months

In addition to six-month testing, fittings should be inspected and cleaned every 12 months.

A licensed electrician can perform emergency and exit lighting maintenance in conjunction with routine testing and tagging.

How are exit signs and exit lighting used?

You might remember the green illuminated boxes with the words EXIT in white. New regulations introduced in 2005 required that – in new builds – these signs were replaced with the more internationally friendly image of the “running man” illuminated in white on that same recognisable green background.

Buildings that correctly had the EXIT signs installed did not need to update their signage; the amendment to the regulation was for new builds from 2007 onwards.

Most building, fire, and health and safety codes require exit lights to be permanently illuminated.

Electrician Moorabbin exit lighting

What is the difference between red and green exit lights?

This is an interesting one, and while you might not be familiar with the origins, once you discover the reason, it will seem quite obvious!

Colour psychology tells us that Red = STOP and Green = GO, so red exit lighting may cause confusion when guiding individuals to safety. Additionally, the colour red indicates ‘Warning!’, ‘Danger!’ or ‘Hazard!’ 

In an emergency, we want to guide people to safe exits, which is why we use the colour green to instantly portray a semblance of safety and to avoid chaos and panic.

What is emergency lighting?

Think “emergency lighting” and the first image that pops into your head might be candles and torches needed during an unexpected blackout at home.

However when we talk about emergency lighting in this instance, we mean specialised lighting solutions designed to deliver light automatically when a building experiences a power outage.

Emergency lighting is therefore almost always battery operated. Most building and safety codes require the safe implementation of an emergency lighting system to protect the safety of occupants. Occupants include:

  • Employees
  • Customers
  • Guests and tenants
  • Patients
  • Contractors

Emergency lighting is common in buildings with high occupancy – think apartment blocks and collage dorms.

Emergency and exit lighting installation (and testing)

It’s important that – as with any other job involving electricity – you choose only a licensed and qualified electrician to undertake this painstaking task.

Not only is it dangerous, it’s also illegal to do your own electrical work.

A licensed electrician must also perform testing. They will safely and accurately perform a power down/discharge test.

Customising your exit and emergency commercial lighting solution

While it’s a requirement for the majority of buildings and commercial spaces to have exit and emergency lighting, a customised solution is generally required in order to meet regulations akin to specific room dimensions.

Differences in floor space, corridor length, and stairwells can all affect the strategy behind exit and emergency lighting. We know the rules back to front and will create the right solution for your commercial space!

If you need an emergency and exit lighting solution that ticks all the boxes and meets regulations, contact the team Briggs Electrical. We can also perform routine tests and inspections and are available 24/7 if you’re in desperate need of an emergency electrician in Melbourne.

Call us anytime on 1300 300 222.