Emergency Lighting Blog

News and Information for Public Egress, Building Safety and Government Compliance

Emergency Lighting Inverters

Why Emergency Lighting Inverters?

According to Inside Energy, the five year annual average of outages doubles every five years in the U.S.  Whether the power outages derive from minor incidents or catastrophic situations like a fire, your emergency lighting needs to be ready.

Meeting Requirements

Inverters help provide uninterrupted power to lighting systems in the event of an outage. This is important for facilities because emergency lighting must remain lit for at least 90 minutes when the power goes out. They also help facilities meet NFPA’s life safety requirements and UL’s 924 code, two standards your systems must meet.

How They Help

You can buy emergency lighting units with backup batteries, which can meet the requirements without an inverter. Depending on the size and makeup of your facility, you may need more power to meet demand. Usually this comes from a backup generator or battery sets connected via diodes. The inverter helps provide power by converting electricity to a useable format. Facilities use alternating current, while the backup (emergency) power generally comes from a direct current. The inverter will convert the DC power to an alternating current, allowing your facility to continue functioning as it had before the outage.

Getting The Right Inverter

The costs of inverters can vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars. You may easily be able to get by with a low cost solution, but before you decide, it’s good to get a second opinion before making a big investment. Whether you want to go at the shopping process alone or consult a guide, you should ensure each inverter you look has two very important listings: NFPA 101 and UL924. To meet inspection and avoid liability, your backup power system will need to at a minimum pass these codes.

To find the perfect inverter for your facility, we encourage you to give us a call. Our team has been working with emergency lighting inverters for over 30 years. They can help you find the inverter you need to meet your needs at the right cost. Just give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.

Iota Mini Inverter

Iota Mini Inverters

It can be easy to take emergency lighting for granted. After all, it’s only there for emergencies, but what happens when an emergency comes? If your emergency lighting equipment is ready, you’ll have the necessary illumination to guide individuals to safety. Inverters are one of the key pieces of equipment used in emergencies.

The Case For Inverters

In situations of power failure, your emergency lighting needs to kick in 10 seconds after the lights go out. An inverter will store power for such cases and feed much needed juice to lighting fixtures and lamps. Though your inverter shouldn’t need to be used often, it will play an important role in safety.

The Cost

As far as inverters go, the costs can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. For this reason, you’ll want an inverter you now will last, like Iota inverters. These inverters are UL certified, which means they’ve passed stringent standards and even exceeded them. Having one of these inverters could save your facility and personnel from serious harm and protect your organization from liability.

Why Iota

Iota inverters provide a level of reliability and sophistication you need in your emergency lighting. They will automatically run a variety of lamps and fixture types. They’ll also automatically run switched, normally-on, or normally-off fixtures. Last of all, they lengthy warranties from the manufacturer—three year warranty and a seven year warranty on the battery. Your iota inverter will be ready for emergencies years down the road.

You can learn more about Iota inverters from our products page, or you can give us a call at 763-542-3155.

Emergency Lighting Testing

Emergency Lighting Test Guide

You might think your days of tests ended with school, but you’re wrong. Even though you retired your number two pencil years ago, leaving only the memories of filling in those nasty little alphabetized bubbles, the ominous aura of tests follows. For emergency lighting, passing the test can be easy, if you know the rules.

Look Into NFPA Guidelines

Unfortunately, there are a lot of rules, and depending on what facility you’re talking about and where this facility rests, the rules can be quite different.  Start with the NFPA guidelines. OSHA and a number of other regulators across the country use these guidelines as their rules.  In fact, every state uses their NFPA 70 code and 43 use their 101 guidelines.

Lighting To Egress

Highlighted in NFPA 101, the requirement for illuminated pathways all the way to an exit is pretty standard. This rule will apply no matter the state or facility. It’s also likely you’ll need to go even further. Changes in direction to an exit, such as turns in a hallway, must be marked clearly.

90 Minutes

Your lighting needs to stay lit for 90 minutes or more during an emergency or power outage. These 90 minutes of light give the needed time for individuals to evacuate.

The Transfer

When the lights go out, your emergency lighting needs to be ready. The transfer must be automatic and replace normal lighting within 10 seconds. Anything short of these standards will likely result in a failed test for your emergency lighting, leaving your facility open to greater liability.

Foot Candle

To pass most code, your emergency lighting must provide one foot candle of initial light. A foot candle is a measurement of light coming from a single source. A light offering a foot candle of light would cast a glow on an object a foot away. Your emergency lighting will most likely need to maintain an average of .1 to 1 foot candle. Last of all, the light must shine on the pathway to the exit.

Specialty Lighting

Depending on your situation, you’ll need to have lights specifically adapted to your area’s natural hazards. For wet or damp locations, you’ll need NEMA lights and exit signs. For areas susceptible to flames, explosions or vandalism, you’ll need emergency lights and exit signs that meet the location’s demands.

Nailing down all the rules can be a tough task, but you don’t have to gather all the answers by yourself. Get the help of our team who has over 30 years of experience in emergency lighting.


Emergency Lighting Regulation

The 1,2,3 Guide For Emergency Lighting Regulation

There are plenty of regulators out there. Each has pages of rules. Getting them straight is a nightmare for poor facility managers and construction personnel. It gets worse. Each of these rules differ depending on state, city and type of facility. To help you navigate the cascading mass of rules, we’ve gathered a list of the top three regulators you’re going to want to look into, along with helpful resources.

  1. NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)

Most people have never heard of it, but facility and construction managers across the planet follow many of the guidelines from this trade organization.  The NFPA’s reach is wide, but the codes relating to emergency lighting include five key parts.

NFPA 101 – This is their Life Safety Code. Used in 43 states, this code sets standard facility requirements protecting people from smoke, fires, and noxious fumes. When it comes to your emergency lighting, this code lays out a number of rules regarding an illuminated pathway to egress.

NFPA 70 – What does it do? It sets the benchmarks for electrical design, installation and inspection for every state.

NFPA 110 and NFPA 111 – They set standards for the backup power supply needed for electrical failures from fires and other catastrophes. Again, these guidelines form as the basis for related regulations throughout the U.S. and even a few places internationally.

NFPA 99 –  For healthcare facilities, the rules are even tighter. This explains why NFPA has its own code for hospitals and the like. The reasoning for the extra rules? Immobile patients, numerous staff and visitors packed into one facility simply have a hard time evacuating.


  1. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

There are numerous requirements you need to know, but when it comes to your emergency lighting, you’ll find a majority of them in 1910.37 of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards.


  1. Underwriters Laboratories

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “not another regulation.” Don’t worry. There may be a lot of rules and guidelines necessary to receive this certification, but you need only do one thing: look for the UL 924 certification on your emergency lighting equipment. When you see UL 924 on emergency lighting, you know your equipment meets or exceeds stringent standards set by the Underwriters Laboratories. Buying UL 924 certified products will make your job easier, as these standards meet a number OSHA and NFPA guidelines.


Navigating these guidelines is a tricky proposition. If you’re unsure, seek help. Our team has been in the emergency lighting business for over 30 years, so we know a thing or two about the products that’ll meet your specifications. To learn more, check out our emergency lighting industry pages. They’ll guide you to the right lighting for your needs. Or, for some extra assistance, give us a call at 800-521-4045. Our team is happy to help you find a solution that fits your needs.

Chicago Approved Emergency Light

Chicago Approved Emergency Lights

With the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park, the Sears Tower and tons of museums, Chicago is a special place, and when it comes to emergency lighting, Chicago is even more unique. Exit signs used throughout the rest of the country will probably not be approved by city regulators.

Why So Strict?

There are 2.7 million people living in the city, and that doesn’t include the scores of workers commuting every day. With so many people packed into one place, the need for greater safety measures exist.

Another reason for the strict codes is Chicago’s history. The city suffered from a number of deadly fires. In just one fire, 300 people were killed and 3.3 miles of the city interior had been destroyed.  The aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire was even worse. 100,000 residents were left without homes. Incidents like these led to tighter codes and restrictions.

What’s Different?

At first glance, a Chicago approved emergency light looks quite a bit like units used throughout the country, but there are three key differences: the housing, the letters and the faceplate. Chicago approved exit signs have larger letters, and those letters always glow red. The faceplate is typically glass, and the housing for the unit is metal not plastic.

How to Keep Up To Code?

You need to know the rules, and the best place to find the building rules is on the city of Chicago website. If you’re short on time, Chicago Decoded is a great resource that briefly explains the rules.

The easiest way to be up to code is purchase Chicago approved emergency light equipment. At Emergency Lighting, you’ll find sections of our inventory solely devoted to Chicago approved lights, fixtures and exit signs. To learn more about our exit signs, or to receive additional tips, contact us online or give us a call at 800-521-4045.

Commercial Emergency Lighting Resources

Commercial Emergency Lighting Resources

Whatever type of facility–apartment, dorm, school, hospital or office building–it needs to be prepared for emergencies.  Depending on the type of facility, your preparation will probably look a little different. Here are a few great resources to help you get your facility ready.


In just four years, $111 million dollars of property damage came from fires, according to a report by the NFPA. Although the numbers are falling, the type of facility faces dangers from a variety of avenues. Often used as a meeting area for fundraisers and celebrations involving meals, churches can face many of the same dangers as restaurants. They also face dangers from candles and old electrical wiring.

Make sure your church is prepared for a fire with these resources.

Fire Safety

Commercial Emergency Light Equipment


Because nursing homes, hospitals and other health care facilities are often full of immobile people, it’s especially important to be prepared. Each hospital should have a plan and training for fires. A great format to build your program around is RACE. This program describes in a short, memorable way what to do in case of a fire.

To craft a thorough safety plan, you’re going to need more information. You’ll need to know what chemicals need to be kept in safe, flame resistant locations. You’ll need action plans, prevention plans and more. The best source for all of this info? OSHA’s tools for health care facilities. They not only provide relevant regulations within these resources, but offer evacuation plans, procedures and much more.

Having a good plan for fire safety saves lives and prevents fires, but planning isn’t enough. You need sound, reliable equipment meeting your specifications. For tips on the necessary equipment for medical facilities, check out this resource we put together for you.


Just last year, there was over one billion dollars of fire damage in the U.S. according to the NFPA. With so many residents in one place, it’s hard for facilities managers to keep an eye on everything, but practicing a few key things will help. Fire emergency guides, fire safety planning and fire safety inspections are all something managers need to be aware of. The Seattle Fire Department put together a great resource detailing these types of aids and much more.

We also created a quick resource for emergency lighting in apartments. Discover one of the most important rules you must follow up with and get some direction on the necessary products.

Learn more about commercial emergency lighting products, and how we can help you get prepared.



Value On Emergency Lighting

The value organizations get from emergency lighting is hard to calculate. After all, it can save lives, and that’s hard to place a value on. As a thrifty consumer, you need to find a way to get lighting that’ll do its job at a reasonable price.  One of the systems on the market right now that offers great value is the R-1 Emergency Light. Here are four reasons why you should consider an R-1

Easy to use

Your time is valuable. That’s why you need an automatic system. The R-1 Emergency Light has an automatic charger, which will recharge your discharged battery within a day. Testing is made easy with the R-1 system. With a press of a button, you can quickly do diagnostic testing. Last of all, the system is light weight and easy to install.

Ni-Cad Battery

With an R-1 Emergency Light, you get the option for a NiCd battery. This battery’s worth the price. A nickel-cadmium battery will outlast other batteries and is easy to use. Typically your NiCd battery will live through 500 to 1000 charge cycles.


Depending on your location, your system may face some tough conditions. That’s why you’ll need something that’s durable and can handle moisture, especially if you’re in a damp location. The R-1 Emergency Light is not only rated for damp locations, but it has a tough thermoplastic housing that will withstand extreme conditions.


As with anything, the price is a big factor in determining value. The R-1 goes for a good price, and with the LED version of the R-1, the LEDR-1 emergency light, you can get affordability with even greater efficiency. LEDR-1 lights are LEDs. This means few bulb replacements over the lifespan of the lights (LEDs usually last up to 50,000 hours) and less energy consumption.

The R-1 Emergency Light isn’t the only option. There are numerous options out there when it comes to value. There’s no one-size fits-all solution, as your needs are likely unique. To find the best systems for you, give us a call at 763-542-3155. One of our helpful team members will guide you to a choice that makes sense for you.

Emergency Lighting Battery Life

The True Life Of Emergency Lighting Batteries

“The manufacturer said it would last 20 years,” you might yell when your emergency lighting battery only lasted 12. Did the manufacturer lie? Let’s just say their projection was made using a “best-case scenario.” Here are a few things you should consider when it comes to batteries used for emergency lighting.

Improper Usage or Care

Unfortunately consumers don’t always follow the recommendations included in the manual. Excessive heat, moisture, improper use, and bad charging habits all play a role in the early death of a battery. To avoid these mishaps, check out this article on increasing battery longevity.

Power Outages

You might have noticed it at home or at work. Power outages are more frequent. Due to increasing cases of hazardous weather, increasing power demand and a decaying infrastructure, backup power sources are suddenly thrust into action more frequently. Your emergency lighting battery might not even notice this strain if backup generators kick into gear, but not all facilities have the luxury of backup generators. For several locations, the backup batteries bear the burden of the added strain. Few manufactures account for this in their projections.

Manufacturing Variations

When it comes to batteries, even small variations affect longevity. The reason is batteries used for emergency lighting rely on delicate chemistry. When the chemistry is just a little off, the battery cells don’t pack the same amount of punch as was anticipated. To avoid this, it’s important to go with a trusted brand of battery, one that has a track record of consistent results.

Emergency Lighting offers batteries from proven brands, like these emergency lighting batteries from Lithonia. To learn more about the best battery for you, give us a call at 763-542-3155. Our sales team knows the industry. We’ve been in it for over 30 years. We’ll guide you to the purchase that makes sense for you.


User-Friendly Emergency Lighting

Simplifying Emergency Lighting

Time is money. This adage is even truer when it comes to emergency lighting. Labor expenses of installing and maintaining emergency lighting can make initial costs, ranging from a mere $15 to hundreds of dollars, seem paltry. That’s why it’s important to choose lighting that won’t suck up your time.


Easy Installation

Convenience doesn’t need to come with sacrifices. You can get quality and great prices if you’re careful. One key example is Sure-Lites’ CC2 brand. This light can be installed within 2 minutes or less and isn’t as expensive as other high quality two-headed lights. The CC2 uses a strategic, modern design with snap on components to simplify installation. Fortunately, the CC2 isn’t the only easy installation solution out there for organizations eager to save time. Other reputable brands have gotten creative to provide you convenience without the expense.



Testing systems, replacing battery and bulbs and general fixes increase costs. Minimize costs and pains by going with the low-maintenance approach. LED lighting limits the number of bulb replacements and NiCd batteries not only take little effort to maintain, but last a long time, reducing the need to replace your backup battery.


If either of these two time-saving measures still seems like too much of a hassle, photoluminescent lighting is there for you. This solution only applies to exit signs, so you’ll want to stick with NiCd backup powered and LED lit emergency lights.


These signs range a bit in price. The expenses will likely come down to your need, but for many uses Glo Brite’s 7010B will do the trick. Priced at just under $25, this sign has a life expectancy of 25 years and provides 50 feet of visibility.



For some organizations, the daily life of emergency lighting is tough. Lighting risks explosions, vandalism, water damage and more. Unfortunately, there’s no keeping your emergency lighting out of harm’s way for many facilities, but the right system may be able to withstand.


Fighting Vandalism

Vandal resistant lighting is available for both exit signs and emergency lights. They tend to be a bit more expensive, but can save plenty of headaches down the line. If you’re not prepared to pay the extra expense of a vandal resistant system, protective guards are an affordable alternative.


Preventing Water Damage

Both exit signs and emergency lighting are available in NEMA rated models. Prevent product damage and replacement with one of these models.

Whatever your need, there’s a number of different purchase directions you can take. Before buying, consider the need, do your homework and then make a decision. If you need help navigating the world of emergency lighting, our specialists can help. We’ve been working in the industry for over 30 years. Give us a call at 763-542-3155 to get the facts.

Battery Life Expectancy

How Long Will Your Battery Last?

Rechargeable batteries are an investment, and for you to get the highest return, they need to last. When determining the life expectancy of your next battery, it’s important to know the type of battery. Each type of battery responds differently to various environments, significantly impacting the length of life.

Sealed Lead Acid and VRLA Batteries

Lead acid batteries were the original rechargeable batteries, first appearing over 150 years ago. The sealed lead acid battery is a new variation of the old technology. Their main benefit is the calcium added to their plates, which reduces water loss. They can also recycle gases they produce and prevent damage to the battery when the charge rate is controlled. These innovations help them meet their average life expectancy of 5 to 10 years.

VRLA  (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) batteries are closely related to SLA batteries. The main difference is they are more durable. SLA batteries last the same amount of time as VRLA batteries in normal conditions, but the VRLAs can be inverted without spilling electrolytes. This allows it to last longer for some uses than its SLA cousin.

Both types of batteries must be cared for properly to live long into their lifespans.  Do not attempt to charge batteries in sub zero temperatures. Although the durability of lead acid batteries can withstand temperature extremes, they have limits. To ensure the batteries receive proper care, consult the instructions. Most instructions will detail the optimal temperature for storage, charging instructions and operation. Follow these guidelines and they will last. An example of the detailed instructions included with your battery appears in this guide for a Power Sonic SLA battery.

Nickel-Cadmium Batteries

Nickel-cadmium batteries for are great for demanding uses. They can withstand high discharge rates while sustaining minimal damage or loss of capacity.

Unfortunately, they don’t do as well in storage as lead acid batteries. Nickel Cadmium batteries will self-discharge in storage at faster rates. Charge the batteries semi-regularly to avoid deep discharge, which damages the battery and shortens its life.

If you properly care for a nickel cadmium battery by following the instructions within the packaging, your battery should last you 10 to 15 years or 500 to 1000 charge cycles.

Although the instructions for care vary, all nickel-cadmium batteries and nickel-metal hydride batteries should not be charged in freezing temperatures. Avoid temperature extremes while charging.

Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries

Nickel-metal hydride batteries are similar to nickel-cadmium batteries, except their energy density approaches that of a lithium-ion cell battery, making them great for high current drain applications. Their average lifespan is equal to that of nickel-cadmium batteries.

Like nickel cadmium batteries, they don’t do as well in storage. They can lose as much of 4% of their charge per day, meaning they will need to be recharged periodically to avoid deep discharge. Fortunately, the nickel-metal hydride has a variation reducing instances of self discharge, known as LSD nickel-metal hydride.

Whatever type of nickel metal hydride battery you choose, keep in mind your intentions. If you need to store your battery for long periods of time, you will want to consider an LSD version of nickel-metal hydride battery, as it will be more equipped to avoid deep discharge.

Before you decide on your next battery, consider the purpose you intend for it. If you need help deciding what battery is right for your need, contact us online or give us a call at 800-521-4045. We’ll help you out.