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Emergency Lighting Blog

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

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.

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.

Do Your Exit Signs Pass the Test?

Exit Sign Requirements

Because fires, power outages and other dangers are uncalled for, your exit signs have to be ready to pass the test. Prepare for critical events with two checks: one monthly and one annually. Following the two test schedules will ensure your exit signs are ready for danger.


The Tests

The monthly tests are simple, lasting 30 seconds or more. For your exit signs to pass the monthly test, they need to maintain the minimum illuminations standard for 30 seconds or more. During these thirty seconds, the exit sign must use its backup power only, as you are simulating a power outage.


The monthly test is simple, but the second test, the annual 90 minute inspection, requires more work. Like the 30 second test, the 90 minute test determines if your system can maintain the minimum illumination standards while using only backup power. Backup power is likely to come from a battery, which must last for the entire duration of 90 minutes along with the lamp and other components.


The Easiest Test

Modern exit signs make monthly testing easy. The test switches built into units simulate power outages. By holding the switch for 30 seconds, you can determine if your light maintains illumination standards while using only the battery for power.


If you have an older exit sign, you may not want to trust this method. The components in older models that shut off the flow from the main power source have been known to fail. Because most systems require you to hold the button throughout the test, the built in test switch is not effective for the 90 minute test.


The Easy Test

The second method isn’t as easy, but simple. To start, unplug the exit sign from the power source.  Cut off from its power, the exit sign will use its battery to stay lit. There are two downsides to this method. You could forget to plug in the exit sign after the test, and you could put your battery through a deep discharge if it’s left unplugged for too long. A deep discharge occurs when your battery is drained too low, decreasing its lifespan.


The Hard Way

Unfortunately the most cumbersome method also happens to be the best. Shutting off your circuit breaker controlling the power to the exit sign simulates a power outage. This testing method works great if all or most of your emergency lights connect to one circuit breaker. For the test to work, the breaker needs to be off for 90 minutes, which creates a problem when the breaker connects to essential equipment.


Breathe Easy

Does all this talk about testing have you on edge? Relax. Emergency lighting and exit signs are reliable. The batteries powering the units have a shelf life of 5 to 10 years depending on the type of battery you use.


If your unit is new, it will likely pass the test easily, but test anyway. Conditions specific to your environment can cause your systems to malfunction. To make sure you pass your next test, we recommend you have a quality exit sign that requires little maintenance throughout its lifetime. LED exit signs have proven themselves reliable and self-illuminating exit signs simplify the testing process.  


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.