Should Emergency & Exit Lights Be On All The Time?

June 27, 2022


Emergency lighting helps to ensure occupants can safely and orderly exit the building in the event of an emergency. It illuminates and identifies the safe exit location so that people can see it in low lighting or in power outages.

These types of emergency lights are a requirement in any public or commercial building across Australia – and for good reason.

Building fires, and particularly house fires, kill more Australians on average than all other natural hazards combined. This is why fire safety equipment such as alarms and emergency lights are essential for saving lives. When you have a proper emergency lighting system installed and regularly maintained, you can help to keep your establishment safe and compliant.

Exit lighting is important when occupants don’t know the layout of the building, and even when they do. In times of emergency, low lighting, smoke, and panic can cause confusion, so having a lit path to safety will aid quick evacuation.

If you want to learn more about emergency lights, for example, understanding whether emergency and exit lights should be on all the time, keep reading for more information.

How do emergency lights work?

There are two main types of emergency lights used in buildings: maintained and non-maintained. While they serve the same purpose (helping to illuminate safe exit paths) they function differently.

Maintained emergency lighting

Maintained lighting is used to describe emergency lighting systems that are in continuous use. If you’ve ever wondered if emergency and exit lights should be on all the time, you are likely thinking of a maintained system. These systems have lighting that remains illuminated 24/7 so that they are visible with or without a power outage.

These systems have two uses, one bulb to act as a regular lamp and another bulb as an emergency light source. The first bulb is always on and stays illuminated using mains power. When power goes out, the battery system kicks in and the emergency light continues to shine.

Using a regular light source is generally less disruptive and confusing for people who are unfamiliar with the layout of the building and need to locate exits in non-emergency situations.

Non-maintained emergency lighting

Non-maintained systems only activate lighting during an emergency or when there is a mains power failure. These systems are not illuminated all the time, instead they are activated automatically when there is a fire or other emergency situation. The backup system within the light provides illumination when power goes out. These emergency lights are usually found in buildings that occupants are more familiar with.


How to test emergency lights

Emergency light testing and maintenance is essential for ensuring that systems are operating properly. You don’t want to find out your emergency lighting is compromised in an emergency situation. This is when you will be relying on your fire safety equipment to be fully operational.

Effective testing of your light systems is best carried out by a fire safety professional, as they will be able to properly inspect, manually test, and repair or replace any faulty equipment.

Under Australian standards, all emergency lights must be tested every 6 months to ensure they are in working order. As part of our fire protection services, we provide exit light periodic inspection, testing, tube replacement and cleaning as per Australian Standard 2293.2.

A manual discharge test to simulate power failure is carried out on each 6 and 12 monthly routine tests. The light must stay illuminated for no less than 90 minutes to be in working order. This will identify any faults within the system and show if the bulbs, batteries, or entire system needs to be replaced.

On top of our exit and emergency light testing, inspections, and maintenance, we can also ensure you have emergency lights in all the right places to not only meet regulations but also to provide the safest workplace possible.

We know where you need lights and what kind of lights you need, so you don’t have to worry.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our services or would like to book an appointment with one of our technicians, call us on 0499 198 427 or contact us here.


FPA Bronze Member
© BNE FIRE PTY LTD / TA Brisbane Fire Services | QBCC: 15152684 | ABN: 12 634 683 079