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Emergency Lighting Blog

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

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T5 Emergency Ballast - ISL-54

Why the ISL-54?

T5 Emergency ballasts pack a strong punch within a 5/8ths inch cylinder. Though T5s are almost 40% smaller than T8s, they can often provide just as much or even more light. But what T5 emergency ballast should you choose? We dug into the subject and found a solid choice in the ISL-54 T5 emergency ballast.


For almost 50 years, Iota has offered powerful and versatile solutions to lighting. Their ISL-54 model of emergency ballast continues the trend. The system allows facilities to use the same fixture for emergencies and regular operation. When the power fails, the IL-54 will switch to its emergency mode and continue to give light for 90 minutes. It uses battery backup power to do this, which fully recharges itself after 24 hours.

Aside from quickly adapting to emergency and non-emergency statuses, the ISL-54 can accommodate most two to four feet T5 and T8 fluorescent lamps.


Included with the ISL-54 system is a Ni-Cad battery. These types of batteries not only have a long life, usually 7 to 10 years, but they are also resistant to high temperatures. This is particularly important when it comes to fluorescent lamps, which produce a lot of heat.


The ISL-54 T5 emergency ballast can be had for under $200 and has a high lumen output. With a 54W T5 lamp, this emergency ballast can produce up to 825 lumens, helping you light a space with fewer lamps and fixtures, which save you money.

To learn more about the ISL-54 T5 emergency ballast, check out our product page, which gives a full breakdown of the features.

Wet Location Emergency Light – What You Need To Know

Wet Location Emergency Light

Electricity and water don’t mix. That’s why your emergency lighting needs to be ready for storms or daily exposure to moisture. Enter wet location emergency lighting.

All About The Enclosure

The main difference between wet location emergency light and regular equipment comes down to the enclosure housing the components vulnerable to water. Manufacturers of wet location emergency light design these enclosures to be air tight, durable and resistant to wear, but not all enclosures are equal. Some will perform fine under some conditions, while others won’t be tough enough.

NEMA Ratings

Before deciding on any wet location emergency light, you should make sure it has a NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturer Association) rating. For almost a century, NEMA has been creating standards to keep electrical materials safe from water, dust, dirt and inclement weather. Today government entities use these guidelines from NEMA to create their rules. By using NEMA rated emergency light, you’ll be on your way to creating a safe facility.

NEMA Enclosure Types

NEMA rated enclosures are the standard, but there are several different ratings designed to meet specific environmental conditions. Sixteen of the NEMA ratings protect from moisture among other things. These ratings set the specifications of some heavy duty equipment with resistance to oil, harsh weather, ice formation, temporary submersion, dust and foreign objects. For most facilities, many of these protections aren’t necessary.

Many wet location emergency lights only have ratings for indoor use and provide protection from falling dirt, dripping or splashing water. For most emergency lights located indoors this is enough to ensure the longevity of the system and the safety of nearby persons. However, for outdoor use or caustic environments, you should familiarize yourself with the different ratings to ensure you find a system strong enough to handle the dangers of your facility’s environment. Fortunately, NEMA made it easy for consumers with this simple guide.

Still have questions about NEMA and wet location lighting? Don’t worry. Our team has been in the business for over 30 years, and they’re happy to help you find what you need. Browse through our wet location emergency lighting today and give us a call. Our team of specialists will help you determine the type of light that fits your need.

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.

7 Things to Consider Before Installing Exit Signs

Exit Sign Installation Considerations

The steps to installing an exit sign vary from unit to unit. However, there are 7 universal things to consider before installing your next exit sign.


Avoid Heat

Most electronics don’t like high temperatures. This is true for exit signs. Components within exit signs and the wiring leading to the system will suffer damage if placed near a heater. It might be impossible to repair heat damage in some cases, and it could present safety concerns.


Elevate It

Exit signs will last longer if they are kept out of reach of people and machines. To prevent tampering or impact, additional precautions can be taken. You can install a steel cage around your exit sign to provide additional protection.  You could even purchase a vandal resistant exit sign, which is a unit that has built in protections from vandalism.


One important thing to remember when adding accessories to protect or enhance your exit sign is that not all accessories coincide with every exit sign. Be sure to consult your manual or instructions before accessorizing.


Keep Inside

Your exit sign probably isn’t rated for outdoor use. Keep inside unless the instruction manual or instructions indicate otherwise.


About Batteries

Your exit signs need to stay lit for 1.5 hours in the event of a power outage. The backup batteries installed on many exit signs help you to meet and exceed OSHA’s regulation. However, those batteries need to be treated with care. Before installing your unit, charge the battery first. It will keep you from needing to do maintenance on your exit sign in the near future.


If maintenance is required on the battery for your exit sign, be careful. Even though most batteries are sealed, the term is relative. Every battery can leak. If you come into contact with battery acid, flush with water right away and contact a medical health professional.


Necessary Tools

The tools to install your exit signs can vary, but there are a few common things you’ll need: Philips-head screwdriver, flat-head screwdriver and a ladder.


Follow Instructions

This is important. Installing an exit sign incorrectly can burn the circuit board, ruining the unit. Following the instructions or manual will save you headaches and time. If no manual or instructions are present, or you have misplaced them, there is likely a customer service number printed on the packaging you can call for assistance.


About Wiring

Mounting your exit sign before connecting to the wiring will not only keep you save, but it will save you time. If there isn’t a fixture wired for your exit sign, you may want to consider getting the help of an electrician, as wiring will need to be run to the exit sign.


Each exit sign is different. There may or may not be more steps to consider when installing. If the installation process seems like a heavy burden, you can always use self-illuminating exit signs. These signs do not require electricity, eliminating the need of the most difficult steps of installation.

Getting the Most Out of Your Battery

They say cats have nine lives. If that’s so, batteries have them beat, by a lot. It’s not unheard of for rechargeable batteries to make it through 500 to 800 recharges. To get the highest return on your investment, follow a few simple rules to make sure your battery lives for ages.


Power Sonic SLA Battery

The Battery Seems Defective

If your battery doesn’t perform at a high level right away don’t tinker with it and cause damage. Batteries can take time to perform at their highest level. It’s called a “break in period,” and the only cure for it is patience. On average a battery can take four charges before it reaches full strength.


Fighting Self-Discharge

The problem with storing your battery often comes down to self-discharge. Self-discharge occurs when the chemical reactions creating and dispelling power reduce the stored charge in the battery. All batteries self-discharge over time. Caring for your battery while in storage will help it last.


Nickel metal hydride and nickel-cadmium batteries need more TLC. That’s why it’s important to charge them every few months to make sure they don’t lose their strength.

Store Batteries Right

You might not need to regularly use your battery. That’s fine, but you should store it correctly. Keep batteries in cool dry areas. Generally, you shouldn’t store your battery at temperatures over 80 degrees, but it’s important to check your instructions or manual, as the temperature tolerance could be even lower. The optimal temperature for storage will be included in the documentation.


Don’t Overcharge Batteries

Batteries have limits. Pushing them past their limits can cause swelling. Swollen batteries age rapidly and become useless or unsafe. Watch your battery carefully to avoid overcharging.


Don’t Drain Batteries Dry

All batteries need to have a little bit of juice in them to survive. That’s why many have protections that shut down the unit once the available power is low. Don’t push your battery past this point. Doing so can cause your battery to age quickly, or result in death.


Use the Right Charger  

This may seem obvious, but it’s important. The consequences for using the wrong charger are big. Because batteries have different compositions, they need to be charged at different rates. Some chargers feed batteries at a slow rate, while others charge quickly. If you were to use a battery charger that works quickly on a battery requiring a slow charge, explosion is likely. There’s no coming back for your battery after that. Consult your manual or instructions on the correct charger.

Now that you know how to take care of your battery so it will last for ages to come, you’re ready to find the best battery for your needs. Let us help. Give us a call at 800-521-4045, shop our store or contact us online. We’ll help you find what you need.

Requirements for Your Emergency Lighting

Buying and installing emergency lights isn’t always a simple task. You need to have the right materials installed correctly, and for this you should consider a few of the following buying guidelines and installation requirements.

Before Buying

Before you buy your emergency lighting, you should think about the longevity and efficiency of your unit. For this reason, consider photoluminescent, radioluminescent and LED light. For exit signs, self-illuminating units may cost more upfront, but they are efficient, last a long time and require little maintenance. LED signs cost less upfront, but need more maintenance and use more energy. Still, LED Exit signs are energy efficient.

For emergency lighting, you want to use LEDs to save time and money. Although the initial cost is greater than other forms of light, it saves money over the long term. LED lights use little power, on average 329 KWh/year. The power saving benefits aren’t the only aspects that will make you feel good about purchasing LED emergency lights. The bulbs also last a long time. On average, they can stay light for about 50,000 hours before burning out.

LED emergency lights are not only easy on your wallet, but they are kind to the environment. On average, they produce only 451 pounds of CO2 a year, which is far less than other types of lighting. They can also be easily disposed of.

Apart from the environmental aspect, you’ll enjoy the durability of LED emergency lights. They aren’t very sensitive to cold temperatures or humidity, allowing the lights to last longer, saving you money in the long term.

After Buying

Emergency lighting, especially exit signs, must be visible in every occasion according to OSHA’s guidelines. To meet visibility requirements, they must first have a backup source of power that can keep the light illuminated for 1.5 hours after power failure.

Don’t worry about this requirement too much. Most emergency lights are equipped with a backup battery. If no backup battery is present, it will be necessary for the unit to have access to an alternative source of power to meet OSHA’s guidelines.

The second thing your emergency lighting must do to meet OSHA’s standards is meet their illumination standards. The standards require emergency lights to provide an initial illumination of an one foot candle average. The foot candle denotes light intensity and is measured along the path of egress at floor level.

The next requirements involve exit signs. The letters on the signs should be at least six inches high, and if the direction of an exit is unclear, you must have an additional sign indicating the location of the nearest exit.

Although we can’t do much more to help you install your emergency lights to meet code, we can help you make the right purchase. Contact us at 800-521-4045 and we’ll guide you through our inventory to find the right lighting for your situation.

Emergency Light Installation: What You Should Do Before


Emergency Light Installation

So you just received your new emergency light or lights. What do you do now? Install it of course. To install your unit, read the directions and consider the following for your emergency light’s longevity and your safety.


Electricity is Dangerous          

For you do it yourselfers out there, the consequences of installing emergency lights can be great. Shocks, burns, fatal electrocution and falls due to contact with electricity are all realistic dangers. If you are unsure that you can do it on your own, get the help of an electrician. It is important to remember that the light is connected to main power lines.


Disconnect Power

Keep disconnected or disconnect from power source while working on your emergency lights. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of people who accidently neglect this detail.


Charge Battery

A backup battery comes with most emergency. The main source of power comes from your electrical supply, while the battery powers the unit in case of fire or power outage.  To avoid the unnecessary work of recharging your battery in the near future, it’s best to make fully charge batteries before installation. Usually this takes a day.


Out of Reach

Your emergency lights must be reliable. LED lights typically last up to 10 years before major maintenance, but even these reliable lights suffer if damaged. The best way to prevent damage is to install your emergency lights high up, out of the reach of people and machines.


Avoid Heat

Don’t mount emergency lights near heat. Although the copper wiring used to conduct electricity withstands extreme temperatures, the plastic coating surrounding the copper cannot. Most new plastic coating can withstand temperatures of 190 degrees. Yet it is easy to reach those temperatures as heat is already coming from the wires contained within the plastic.

Electrical wiring has been known to degrade even in warm attics. Without the protection of the plastic coating, the wire can malfunction and become a fire hazard.


Be Flexible

To make installation easier, use flexible conduit instead of rigid conduit. Rigid conduit is hard to work with in tight spaces, and emergency lights are typically fastened tightly to the ceiling or wall. Before choosing the type of conduit, consult the manual or instructions included with your emergency lights. Typically, they will recommend flexible conduit, but this is not always the case.


Consult Your Manual

Installing your unit incorrectly creates unnecessary headaches in the future. By following the instructions carefully, you save yourself time in the long run.


To find quality and affordable emergency lights for your next installation check out our store. With our vast supply, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for.

Keep Up with Changing Codes

Building codes are under constant revision to help our public spaces be as safe as possible. Make sure your facilities are always up to date and in compliance with the best practices of the industry.

There is often confusion over which colors are allowed when choosing an Exit sign for your building. Exit sign requirements vary by state and municipality, which is why it’s important to check with your Fire Marshall to see whether Green Exit Signs or Red Exit Signs are required in your building.

Plenty of resources are available online to help stay on top of new regulations before the inevitable state inspections. Organizations like the National Fire Protection Association and the International Code Council are great destinations for the latest in building safety standards.

We keep our products organized based on the requirements for compliance in various states. The links below the products and specifications called for by various regions around the country. While national standards are enforced, these items all adhere to the particulars called for by each state.

For the latest updates in state by state compliance check back to our blog or visit the Emergency Lighting Facebook page for timely notifications.EZXTEU2RW

Emergency Lights – Exit Signs by State

Were you aware that exit sign requirements vary by state and even municipality?   We can help you get the correct exit signs, no matter which state you need emergency signs for.   We have a state listing below with state information on each page!  Note:  It is important to check with your local Fire Marshall to see whether Green Exit signs or Red Exit Signs are required in your building.

Alabama Exit Signs Alaska Exit Signs Arizona Exit Signs
Arkansas Exit Signs California Exit Signs Colorado Exit Signs
Connecticut Exit Signs Delaware Exit Signs Florida Exit Signs
Georgia Exit Signs Hawaii Exit Signs Idaho Exit Signs
Illinois Exit Signs Indiana Exit Signs Iowa Exit Signs
Kansas Exit Signs Kentucky Exit Signs Louisiana Exit Signs
Maine Exit Signs Maryland Exit Signs Massachusetts Exit Signs
Michigan Exit Signs Minnesota Exit Signs Mississippi Exit Signs
Missouri Exit Signs Montana Exit Signs Nebraska Exit Signs
Nevada Exit Signs New Hampshire Exit Signs New Jersey Exit Signs
New Mexico Exit Signs New York Exit Signs North Carolina Exit Signs
North Dakota Exit Signs Ohio Exit Signs Oklahoma Exit Signs
Oregon Exit Signs Pennsylvania Exit Signs Rhoda Island Exit Signs
South Carolina Exit Signs South Dakota Exit Signs Tennessee Exit Signs
Texas Exit Signs Utah Exit Signs Vermont Exit Signs
Virginia Exit Signs Washington Exit Signs West Virginia Exit Signs
Wisconsin Exit Signs Wyoming Exit Signs

Emergency Lighting and Exit Sign Requirements

An emergency light is a battery-backed lighting device that comes on automatically when a building experiences a power outage. Emergency lights are standard in new commercial and high occupancy residential buildings, such as college dormitories. Most building codes require that they be installed in older buildings as well.


By the nature of the device, an emergency light is designed to come on when the power goes out. Every model, therefore, requires some sort of a battery or generator system that could provide electricity to the lights during a blackout. The earliest models were incandescent light bulbs which could dimly light an area during a blackout and perhaps provide enough light to solve the power problem or evacuate the building. It was quickly realized, however, that a more focused, brighter, and longer-lasting light was needed. The modern emergency floodlight provides a high-lumen, wide-coverage light that can illuminate an area quite well. Some lights are halogen, and provide a light source and intensity similar to that of an automobile headlight.

Early battery backup systems were huge, dwarfing the size of the lights for which they provided power. The systems normally used lead acid batteries to store a full 120-volt charge. For comparison, an automobile uses a single lead acid battery as part of the ignition system. Simple transistor or relay technology was used to switch on the lights and battery supply in the event of a power failure. The size of these units, as well as the weight and cost, made them relatively rare installations. As technology developed further, the voltage requirements for lights dropped, and subsequently the size of the batteries was reduced as well. Modern lights are only as large as the bulbs themselves – the battery fits quite well in the base of the fixture.

Modern installations

Modern emergency lighting is installed in virtually every commercial and high occupancy residential building. The lights consist of one or more incandescent bulbs or one or more clusters of high-intensity light-emitting diodes (LED). The emergency lighting heads are usually either PAR 36 sealed beams or wedge base lamps. All units have some sort of a reflector to focus and intensify the light they produce. This can either be in the form of a plastic cover over the fixture, or a reflector placed behind the light source. Most individual light sources can be rotated and aimed for where light is needed most in an emergency, such as toward fire exits. Modern fixtures usually have a test button of some sort which temporarily overrides the unit and causes it to switch on the lights and operate from battery power even if the main power is still on. Modern systems are operated with relatively low voltage, usually from 6-12 volts. This both reduces the size of the batteries required and reduces the load on the circuit to which the emergency light is wired. Modern fixtures include a small transformer in the base of the fixture which steps-down the voltage from main current to the low voltage required by the lights. Batteries are commonly made of lead-calcium, and can last for 10 years or more on continuous charge. U.S. fire safety codes require a minimum of 90 minutes on battery power during a power outage along the path of egress.

As a method of signaling a power outage, some models of emergency lights must be shut off manually after they have been activated. This is true even if the main building power comes back on. The system will stay lit until the reset button on the side of the unit is pressed.

Modern Emergency Light Design

Emergency lighting is often referred to as egress lighting. Emergency lights are used in commercial buildings as a safety precaution to power outages, so that people will be able to find their way out of a building. Exit signs are often used in conjunction with emergency lighting.

New York City requires emergency lights to carry a Calendar Number signifying approval for local installation, Chicago requires emergency lighting to have a metal face plate, and Los Angeles requires additional exit signs be installed within 18 inches (460 mm) of the floor around doors to mark exits during a fire, as smoke rises and tends to block out higher installed units.

As there are strict requirements to provide an average of one footcandle of light along the path of egress, emergency lighting should be selected carefully to ensure codes are met.

In recent years, emergency lighting has started to move away from the traditional two-head unit – with manufacturers stretching the concept of emergency lighting to accommodate and integrate emergency lighting into the architecture.

An emergency lighting installation may be either a central standby source such as a bank of lead acid batteries and control gear/chargers supplying slave fittings throughout the building, or may be constructed using self-contained emergency fittings which incorporate the lamp, battery, charger and control equipment.

Self-contained emergency lighting fittings may operate in “Maintained” mode (illuminate all the time) or “Non-Maintained” mode (illuminated only when the normal supply fails).

Codes of practice for emergency lighting generally mandate that wiring from the central power source to emergency luminaires is kept segregated from other wiring, and constructed in fire resistant cabling and wiring systems.

Codes of practice lay down minimum illumination levels in escape routes and open areas. Codes of practice also lay down requirements governing siting of emergency lighting fittings, for example the UK code of practice, BS5266 specifies that a fitting must be within 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) horizontal distance of a fire alarm call point or location for fire fighting appliances.

The most recent codes of practice require the designer to allow for both failure of the supply to the building and the failure of an individual lighting circuit. BS5266 requires that when Non Maintained fittings are used, they must be supplied from the same final circuit as the main lighting circuit in the area.

Relevant standards

IEC 60598-2-22 Ed. 3.0: Luminaires – Part 2-22: [1] Particular requirements – Luminaires for emergency lighting

IEC 60364-5-56 Ed. 2.0: Low-voltage electrical installations – Part 5-56: [2] Selection and erection of electrical equipment – Safety services

ISO 30061:2007 (CIE S 020/E:2007): Emergency lighting (specifies the luminous requirements for emergency lighting systems)