How often should emergency lighting be tested

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Emergency lighting is key to keeping you safe in the event of a power cut or emergency. It’s a fundamental part of public buildings, workplaces and residential complexes to provide enough light to evacuate and carry out emergency procedures. Given how important it is, regular testing of emergency lighting systems is vital to make sure they work when you need them most.

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Understanding Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting covers several types of systems including emergency escape lighting and standby lighting. These systems are designed to automatically come on when the power fails, to guide people out of the building. To make sure these systems work, testing protocols must be strict. This means checking batteries, light fittings and control systems to identify and fix any potential problems before they become a problem during an actual emergency.

Emergency lighting Regulatory Requirements and Standards

Various regulations and standards dictate the testing frequency and type for emergency lighting systems. For example in the US the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has guidelines through the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. In the UK the British Standard BS 5266 covers the maintenance of emergency lighting. These standards recommend monthly and annual testing to ensure all parts of the emergency lighting system are working.

Monthly Testing Procedures of Emergency lighting

Monthly testing involves a quick functional test to make sure all emergency lights are working. This takes a few minutes and involves checking each light to make sure it lights up. The procedure involves switching off the main power supply to simulate a power failure and checking all emergency lights come on automatically. Any lights that don’t work must be repaired or replaced immediately.

Emergency lighting annual Testing and Inspection

Annual testing is more in depth and involves a full discharge test where the emergency lights are operated for their full rated time (usually 90 minutes or 3 hours depending on the system). This ensures the batteries can support the lighting for the required time. During this test a full inspection of the entire emergency lighting system is carried out, checking for wear and tear, battery efficiency and the condition of the light fittings. Records of these tests should be kept for compliance and future reference.

The Role of Professional Maintenance in emergency lighting

While some parts of emergency lighting testing can be done in-house, having professional maintenance services means the system will be inspected and maintained to the highest standard. Professionals can identify problems that may not be visible during routine checks and will repair and replace as necessary. This ensures compliance and safety of the emergency lighting system.


Testing emergency lighting is not just a compliance requirement but a safety must. Monthly functional tests and annual full tests are crucial to ensure emergency lighting will work in an actual emergency. Getting professional maintenance services will further increase the reliability of these systems, so all occupants are safe. By following these testing protocols, building managers and owners can provide a safe environment and meet the regulatory requirements.



1. What is the purpose of emergency lighting?

Emergency lighting provides light during power outages or emergencies so people can evacuate and follow emergency procedures.

2. How often should emergency lighting be tested?

Emergency lighting should be tested monthly for functional tests and annually for full discharge and system test.

3. What are the regulatory standards for emergency lighting testing?

In the US, the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code has guidelines, in the UK, BS 5266 has maintenance requirements. Both standards recommend monthly and annual tests.

4. Can building staff conduct emergency lighting tests?

Yes, building staff can do basic monthly functional tests. Annual full tests should be done by professional maintenance services.

5. What happens if emergency lighting fails during a test?

Any failure should be fixed immediately by repairing or replacing faulty parts so the system is fully working.

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