We reviewed emergency exit signs last September and in this article we are looking at the luminaires that provide the lighting for the escape route.
In essence, you have to provide a minimum level of illumination along the escape route. There are other criteria such as uniformity and the width of the route. Typically, an escape route might be a corridor. There are separate, but similar, recommendations for “open areas” such as large offices and covered car parks.
Some manufacturers supply tables or charts showing the maximum spacing between luminaires in order to meet the standards. If no charts are available, the manufacturer must be able to supply you with photometric files so that that you can calculate the illuminance levels using software such as Dialux, or similar.
Guidance and legislation on emergency and escape lighting is pretty daunting when you first read it. In the UK, the applicable standard is BS 5266:2016. Elsewhere, EN 1838:2013 applies.
A new concept in BS 5266 is that of “stay put” lighting. This recognises the fact that emergency lighting is often triggered by power failure rather than an actual emergency such as a fire. For this, you need a much higher level of illumination and, hence, greater light output from the luminaires.
For an explanation and how to implement the legislation, the most comprehensive and readable guide is LG12:2015 produced by the Society of Light and Lighting. As well as making reference to EN 1838, it includes worked examples of emergency and escape lighting design.
We have concentrated on bulkhead type luminaires, but recessed downlights are often used for corridors less than 2m wide.
Beware of comparing luminaires simply by their wattage or lumen output. A properly designed optical system can give higher levels of illumination and wider spacings than an inefficient luminaire which has a higher light output and power consumption.
ABB PrimEvo SM100E
This is a neat, circular, plastic-body luminaire which can be recessed or surface mounted. The SM version we tested was 140 mm dia and 55 mm deep.
There are two separate 1.5W LEDs fitted with asymmetric lenses to give a long, narrow beam. This unit would be ideal for corridors where you want simple unobtrusive emergency lighting.
BLE Lighting Ontec S
The basic 1W, 7 LED we received is the highest selling of the range. There are also 2W and 5W variants. Apart from the standard unit, there are optics for corridors and high mounting. The body and reflector is all white polycarbonate with a clear cover.
Channel Safety Systems Meteor
This IP65 unit is designed to replace an 8W fluorescent emergency luminaire. It is semi-recessed and only 30 mm projects below the ceiling.
There is a single line of 10 LEDs inside behind a clear, prismatic polycarbonate lens. These produce quite a striped appearance which may not matter in an emergency mode.
A common complaint from architects and designers is that there are very few attractive emergency lighting luminaires. However, the Block looks really good. It’s a simple rectangle in shape but with a high quality paint finish available in black, white and silver. Also, it is only 30mm wide.
If you are unsure about calculating the spacings yourself, Daisalux can provide a simple piece of software so you can design your layout and optimise the number of fittings used.
The light source is a single, Cool (6,000 – 7,000K) LED behind a polycarbonate lens. This emits an elongated beam suitable for corridors. Unfortunately, the lens does produce quite a few striations and there is colour fringing at the edges. You may not care in an emergency but if it was used in a Maintained mode, you would certainly notice it.
This is described as a high-bay emergency luminaire. You can use it on escape routes up to a 24m ceiling height and open areas up to 34m high. They also have a wide-angle version for low to medium heights.
Eaton achieve this by using their own in-house designed optical system. This also enables it to be used applications where a higher level of illuminance is required. BS 5266 includes high risk task areas such as kitchens, plant rooms and first aid rooms where higher levels of illumination are required.
Interestingly, the same product can be supplied with a polycarbonate or die-cast aluminium base. This is purely because some specifiers prefer a metal luminaire for industrial applications.
This is a small, neat looking unit, designed for ceiling mounting up to about 4m high. It has an IP65 polycarbonate body. Inside, there are two rows of LEDs behind a clear, prismed lens, which is similarly made of polycarbonate.
It’s good to see that the data sheet includes spacing tables. These are especially useful where you are retrofitting and CAD drawings may not be available.
The same body can also be used to convert it into a ceiling mounted Exit sign.
Liteplan LED 40
This is one of the smallest units I have seen, being just 50mm in diameter. There are two beam options available. One is 125° x 50° for use in corridors. The other beam is symmetrical at 110 and suitable for open areas.
A big advantage of the LED 40 is that it is IP54 so you can use it in damp areas such as bathrooms and covered walkways.
It is sold as a stand-alone kit which can be used to replace an existing, non-emergency, fitting. The battery pack will easily fit through the 45 mm diameter recess hole.
Whilst not strictly relevant to emergency lighting, the lens produced a really crisp beam. It is better than many architectural spotlights I have seen.
What can you say about a fitting called Excellence? In fact, Normalux is the emergency lighting division of the Norma group. This includes another division, Normalit, which has a 180 page catalogue of regular, non-emergency luminaires. They have separate buildings for each division.
Normalux has a huge range of emergency luminaires in its catalogue. Some of them are clearly designed to appeal to architects and are quite different from the usual 'bricks' you see in most literature.
The Excellence has a polycarbonate body and reeded lens. There is a frosted diffuser over the LEDs, so it is comfortable to look at under normal conditions.
The Disc has been designed for corridors and staircases. It is available in 20W and 30W versions. The latter is slightly larger in diameter. It has a tough opal polycarbonate lens on a fire resistant ABS body. The two can be secured together with security screws. There is a circular array of LEDs behind the diffuser giving an almost totally uniform appearance from all directions.
A useful feature of the Disc is that there is the choice of 3W or 15W battery packs. This is useful where you want a high level of emergency lighting such as high risk task areas.