Maintained or Non-Maintained Emergency Lighting?

The use of maintained or non-maintained emergency lighting should be decided based upon building type, its occupants and purpose or usage.

What is the difference between maintained and non-maintained emergency lights?

Maintained Lights

Maintained emergency lighting is on at all times. Maintained emergency lights are mains powered and used as part of the normal room lighting system. But, in an emergency situation when mains power fails, it will continue to stay lit for a specific duration powered by a back-up battery. It is generally used in non-residential places of public assembly such as leisure centres, cinemas, shopping centres etc. In public venues where the normal lighting system is often dimmed, for example cinemas, theatres or bars, maintained luminaries are always required.

Maintained lighting could include lit fire exit signs, bulkhead lighting or recessed downlights. There are LED options available which will reduce energy consumption and therefore running cost.

Non-maintained Lights

Non-maintained lighting usually only comes on for a specific duration when the power supply to normal artificial lighting fails. Non-maintained emergency lights are normally suitable for workplaces which are usually lit when occupied. Non-maintained light fittings are powered by a battery that is charged from a constant trickle of mains power. This battery should have enough charge to remain lit for a duration of 3 hours or more if mains power fails.

Illuminated fire exit sign next to a door

Which type of emergency lighting do I need?

British Standards guidelines 5266-1:2011 requires adequate emergency lighting to be installed in all high occupancy residential, public or commercial buildings. There are often more specific recommendations given by local authorities in each area.

Whether maintained or non-maintained emergency lighting is needed is largely a question for fire risk assessors based on each individual circumstance. If non-maintained lighting is deemed sufficient, it is also worth considering the reduced environmental impact and lower energy cost of using non-maintained lighting over time.

Watch our video to learn the difference between maintained and non-maintained emergency lighting

Can an emergency light fitting be both maintained AND non-maintained?

Yes. Maintained emergency light fittings or signs used as part of a normal room lighting system can also be wired to perform as a non-maintained fitting if required. Many maintained fittings are available as switchable units, meaning they can be switched between maintained and non-maintained modes using an ordinary light switch. Non-maintained light fittings cannot be wired for use in maintained operation.

Still unsure which type is most suitable?

If you are unsure which emergency lighting is best for your environment, it is best practice to conduct a fire risk assessment. A risk assessor will advise the most suitable option in line with the regulations.

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Help guides

More information about all aspects of emergency lighting can be found in our emergency lighting guides.

British Standards

There are various British Standards that set out the regulations for emergency lighting where further guidance can be sought:

  • BS5266-1 Code of practice for emergency lighting of premises sets out general guidance on what emergency lighting should be provided in each environment
  • BS EN 50172 / BS 5266-8 Emergency escape lighting systems details minimum emergency lighting provision and testing for each type of environment

Mel Saunders

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Mel joined our team at the start of 2020. She creates our marketing materials and manages our social media accounts.

Safelincs wins East Riding of Yorkshire tender

Despite tough competition Safelincs has won East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s tender for fire extinguishers and fire safety signs. We are sure that our excellent prices and top of the range quality helped to convince the buying team to award Safelincs the contract for 2012 to 2016. This is the second time in a row that Safelincs has been awarded the fire safety supply for this council.

We are always happy to offer councils and public bodies our very best prices for fire safety products and fire safety services. Our customers also benefit from our outstanding and award winning customer service, our extremely high shipping precision and our expert technical team.

We have also introduced a number of cost saving fire safety products, which are particularly important for councils trying to find budget savings. Our P50 service free extinguishers, for example, offer savings of up to £350 per extinguisher over a ten year period.

 

What power consumption do emergency lights have?

When comparing power consumption of emergency lighting, and more specifically comparing LED lighting with standard lighting, it is important to understand some of the terms used and what they actually mean in this context. Sometimes you will see the power consumption documented in W (Watts) and sometimes it will be stated in VA (VoltAmperes). Whilst this looks confusing, it is comforting that both terms are actually identical. Multiplying the Voltage (V) of the electrical supply with the Amperage (A), which represents the current flowing through the light, gives you VA (VoltAmperes) which represents power consumption and is actually the same as the ‘Wattage’ (W). So VA equals W; they are just different ways of saying the same thing.

For this blog we will be comparing a CS8 maintained emergency bulkhead with an X-GSA LED maintained emergency bulkhead as they are very similar units, although they have a very different power consumption (also the CS8 produces light output of  100 lumens, whilst the X-GSA produces a slightly lower 85 lumens. This difference, though, is negligible.).

The CS8 contains an 8W T5 lamp which, as the name suggests, consumes 8 Watts. The ballast (the electronics that run the unit and the trickle charge for the backup battery) consumes 12 Watts, which means the CS8 in maintained mode consumes 20W.

The X-GSA contains 12 white LEDs which together consume 0.9W. The ballast consumes 2.6W, which means the whole unit in maintained mode consumes 3.5W.
That is a difference of 16.5W, which is huge when you consider that maintained lights are lit constantly. So, a CS8 in its maintained mode is consuming over 5 times more energy every hour than the X-GSA!

It is also important to know that LED emergency lights last substantially longer than fluorescent tubes. An LED bulb will last over 5 times longer than a traditional fluorescent light.

Generally speaking LED emergency lighting is more expensive than the traditional equivalent, but when you factor in the substantially lower power consumption and the lower maintenance needs of LED lights, they are actually more cost effective in the long term.

Fire Kills’ Annual Report 2010-11 highlights Safelincs’ contribution

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s Fire Kills campaign aims to raise awareness of key fire safety messages to the general public. Safelincs has been a partner of the Fire Kills campaign for a number of years and its contributions have been highlighted in the latest annual report.

As an online fire safety products retailer, Safelincs provides an opportunity to encourage those who are safety conscious to consider the wellbeing of their friends and family. They have created a ‘reminders’ website that allows people to sign up to receive free reminders about testing and replacing smoke alarms. This website (www.safelincs.co.uk/reminders) features the Fire Kills logo and supporting fire safety messages.

Safelincs were the exclusive retailer of the new Ei Electronics ‘easichange’ replacement alarms for mains-wired smoke alarms in 2010-11. They produced a leaflet in line with the Fire Kills identity guidelines featuring fire safety messages to ensure that customers’ smoke alarms were in good working order.”

The full Fire Kills report can be read on http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/fire/Firekillsreport201011

Update 03-02-2021: The Easichange range of alarms has been discontinued in light of ongoing changes to the replacement models. Safelincs’ support for customers continues with a simplified series of replacement smoke and heat alarms that will still be familiar to previous Easichange customers.

Replacement of old Kidde smoke alarms

As well as testing your smoke and heat alarms on a regular basis, it is important to make a note of when the units actually need to be replaced. Studies have shown that the functionality of smoke and heat alarms can start to deteriorate when they reach a lifespan of 10 years. Each smoke and heat alarm should have a “replace by date” visible on the outside of the unit and we recommend that you adhere to this guideline.

When replacing a smoke alarm it can be quite difficult to recognise a suitable replacement product. In some cases, you may find that the current alarm model has been discontinued. With battery operated alarms, as there is no wiring in place, it is much easier to replace the unit for another smoke alarm with like-for-like features. Mains powered alarms are hard wired and are most likely interconnected during installation. It is because of this that finding replacement detectors can be difficult.

Working with Kidde Safety Europe, Safelincs are able to provide a list of mains powered discontinued Kidde smoke and heat alarms, along with their suitable product equivalents.

Discontinued Alarm Replacement Alarm
123/9HI KEKF10
123i KEKF10
123/9HILL KEKF10R
223/9HI KEKF20
223/9HILL KEKF20R
1275H KEKF10
323/9HI KEKF30
323/9HILL KEKF30R

The new alarms will interlink with other, still working units of the previously installed smoke alarms. This means that there is no need to replace all of the units within a system if only some of the installed detectors have reached the end of their recommended lifespan. All new mains powered smoke and heat alarms are provided with a mounting bracket and a wiring connector. It is important to note that you need to replace the existing mounting base and re-connect the wiring to fit the new units. With any mains powered alarms, all electrical work should be carried out by a qualified electrician.

Safelincs offer a smoke alarm reminder service which allows customers to be notified when their smoke and heat alarms are due to be replaced, when the batteries need to be changed and reminds customers to test their alarms on a regular basis. The service is completely free and customers can choose if they wish to be reminded by email, SMS text message or by Twitter.