Planning & Specifying Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting is a vital part of a facility’s life safety program. It is important to carefully consider the needs of your facility to achieve the best results.

Codes and regulations, such as the NFPA® 101® Life Safety Code®, establish guidelines for emergency lighting equipment. Incorporating the right combination of elements into emergency lighting design helps provide a higher degree of safety. The best emergency lighting system is carefully planned for a specific building and its occupants. This newsletter includes a summary of some of the significant factors involved in this planning process. Scroll below to read more on:

  • Planning and Specifying Emergency Lighting
  • Codes, Standards, and Requirements
  • Comprehensive Catalog of Recommended Products

Proximity, shape, and size of exits

The configuration of walls adjoining the exit way, the amount of space devoted to exit passages and travel distance to exits should be considered when determining the number and placement of emergency lighting units.


Intended Use of Building

Additional emergency lighting may be required depending on the types of people using a facility. Elementary school children and older adults may require more emergency lighting than apartment residents, college students, or office workers. Retail situations where valuable merchandise is accessible may also require extra illumination.

Occupancy and building knowledge

Places like auditoriums, convention halls and sports arenas will undoubtedly have large groups of people unfamiliar with exit paths and therefore require more emergency lighting than buildings with smaller groups of people. The number of people expected to occupy a building will influence the needs of the space.


Codes, Standards, and Requirements for emergency lighting

Emergency lighting is a vital part of a facility’s life safety program. While it is essential to consult federal, state and local codes related to emergency lighting for your project, there are some general guidelines for code requirements.

Although state and local building codes vary, most are based upon:

  • The National Electrical Code®, NFPA 70®, Article 700;
  • The Life Safety Code®, NFPA 101®, Sections 7-8 through 7-10;
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which offers some general guidelines.
  • The California Code of Regulations – Emergency Illumination 2571.16

Key Information

These codes provide complete information on emergency lighting requirements; however, a good introduction is found in NFPA 101, Section

Below are a brief summary of requirements:

  • Emergency lighting is required throughout the path of egress and must operate for a minimum of 90 minutes.
  • Emergency lighting transfer must be automatic (within 10 seconds) of loss of the normal lighting supply power.
  • Emergency lighting must provide an average of 1 footcandle initial illumination.
  • Changes in direction must be clearly marked.
  • Products must be UL tested & within code compliance.

Emergency products must be periodically monitored once installed