What is the difference between emergency lighting and general lighting

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Characteristics of general lighting

General lighting, is used for people’s daily production, life of conventional lighting, applied in the work, study, life and other extensive areas of lighting. It provides people with an even light environment, ensures that there is enough brightness in the space for normal operation, and meets the requirements of visual field visibility and visual comfort.

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Emergency lighting characteristics

Emergency lighting refers to: in the case of normal lighting power can not work can automatically start for the space environment to provide temporary lighting auxiliary lighting. Its purpose is to ensure the safe evacuation of people in the building in case of emergency. In such scenarios, it is critical (e.g. fire power failure, etc.) to maintain lighting of critical areas. These areas include safety exits evacuation routes and stairwells.

The difference between emergency lighting and general lighting

The main difference between emergency lighting and ordinary lighting is that ordinary lighting provides illumination under normal conditions. Emergency lighting provides illumination in case of power failure. Emergency lighting for ordinary lighting to provide additional supplemental lighting. It is as a specific place of emergency needs necessary lighting. In the lighting system, it assumes an important role. There are many differences between emergency lighting and general lighting.

Difference in use and purpose

General lighting, mainly responsible for providing the lighting needs of daily activities, living lighting, work production lighting, commercial business lighting, warehouse lighting and residential lighting, indoor and outdoor general lighting. Provide comfortable and effective light and, maintain the lighting needs of normal time;

Whereas emergency lighting is used to provide additional lighting for complex scenes with insufficient light, evacuation lighting in emergency situations, with the aim of providing auxiliary lighting in response to the failure or lack of conventional lighting. Emergency lighting is an important backup lighting solution for general lighting as well as for emergency scenes.

Differences in lighting types

General lighting does not take special locations into account and provides a variety of lighting for all locations and uses. These include: indoor lighting, outdoor lighting, decorative lighting, ambient lighting, task lighting, and more. There are various types of light sources and fixtures for general lighting, such as LED lights, incandescent lights, fluorescent lights, and so on.

And emergency lighting usually use special LED lights, such as emergency indicator lights, emergency lighting tape, explosion-proof emergency lights, automotive emergency lights, portable emergency lights and so on.

Emergency lighting fixtures usually includes three types:

1.Backup Lighting: emergency lighting section to ensure that normal activities continue when the normal lighting power supply fails.

2.Evacuation Lighting: Used to help people evacuate and find safe exits in an emergency.

3.Safety Lighting: Ensures that specific areas (e.g. escape stairs, emergency exits, etc.) are adequately illuminated in an emergency.

Whereas emergency lighting is used to provide additional lighting for complex scenes with insufficient light. Evacuation lighting is employed in emergency situations. The aim is to provide auxiliary lighting in response to failure or lack of conventional lighting. Emergency lighting serves as important backup lighting solution for general illumination and emergency scenes.

Difference in operating modes

Ordinary lighting system relies on the mains power supply connected to the building and is mainly controlled by manual switch control, sensor control and intelligent remote control. But it will stop working if the power system is interrupted.

Emergency lighting power supply is designed for primary and secondary loads with built-in mains power supply. It is equipped with backup power source. This source can be a battery or a generator. or UPS backup power source is capable of automatically switching to the backup power source when the main power source fails. This ensures continuous operation.

Difference in lighting duration

Ordinary lighting: in the case of power supply can continue to work, designed for a long time lighting, continuous use, no time limit, lighting duration is not a specific limit, according to the use of the need to turn on, depending on the time of connecting the power supply and the life and quality of the equipment itself.

Emergency Lighting: Designed specifically to provide temporary lighting in emergency situations, the duration capability design usually has strict standards and specifications. For example, the U.S. NFPA requires emergency lighting equipment to operate continuously for at least 90 minutes. It is generally required to meet the minimum continuous emergency lighting time or longer required in the event of a power failure or emergency evacuation. The ability to safeguard the lighting needs required for an emergency event.

The difference between the design standards

General lighting based on the specific needs of the use of the place, considering people’s visual tasks and light environment needs. General lighting design pays more attention to energy efficiency, aesthetics and functional diversity to meet different decorative and atmospheric needs. Design specifications are not as stringent as those for emergency lighting, although safety and electrical standards also need to be adhered to.

Emergency lighting, on the other hand, must follow specific safety codes and standards,such as the U.S. National Electrical Code Standard NFPA 70, NFPA 101 (Life Safety Code), IEC 60598 (standard for lamps and luminaires), etc.; In addition, it must also meet the emergency lighting hours of operation, illuminance requirements, automatic activation, back-up power supply, different colors of emergency lighting, signs and symbols, etc., and meet other specific design requirements.

Difference in the use of the scene

General lighting is commonly used for daily and work lighting, providing area lighting not limited to homes, shopping malls, office buildings, factories, public squares and other places.

Functional lighting used to provide specific light effects, light functions, improve productivity, and improve the quality of life.

Decorative lighting used to highlight specific interior design elements or artwork and enhance the visual appeal of a space through directed light.

Ambient lighting used to provide soft, even light to create a warm, cozy or romantic scene, a specific atmosphere or environment.

Emergency lighting focuses on applications:

Emergency evacuation: In case of fire earthquake, power failure and other emergencies. To provide enough light for people to evacuate safely especially to illuminate critical paths such as exits, stairwells and corridors.

Security Lighting: In the event of power failure or other emergency. It ensures certain critical areas remain visible. For example control rooms generator rooms and fire equipment storage areas.

Backup Lighting: In critical facilities such as data centers, hospital operating rooms etc. Emergency lighting ensures that critical operations can continue in the event of an interruption in main power supply.

Vehicle emergency lighting: Commonly used in automobile driving emergency alert lights, including double flash emergency lights car emergency lighting, portable emergency lighting.

Difference in control mode

Ordinary lighting is usually controlled by manual switch, timer, motion sensor or intelligent control system, which is turned on according to the lighting demand without strict lighting requirements;

Emergency lighting for automatic opening, using emergency power systems or sensor control, the opening of the lighting time has a strict set of standards, high-risk field response time of no more than 0.25 seconds, other places no more than 5 seconds. Used to start the emergency lighting system.

Summary of the Advantages of Emergency Lighting

1. Automatic switching function: Emergency lighting can be automatically activated in event of mains power loss without manual intervention. This ensures rapid provision of lighting in emergency situations.

2. Energy-saving and efficient: Emergency lighting fixtures are usually designed for high efficiency. They often use LED light sources. They also utilize other low-power technologies. This reduces energy consumption.

3. Long life cycle: Emergency lighting fixtures are often constructed with durable materials and components. This ensures a long service life.

4. Intelligent switching: Built-in intelligent circuits automatically switch to standby power mode when main power failure is detected.
5. Safe process materials: designed to take into account the use of fire smoke and other extreme conditions. Non-flammable materials manufacturing process ensures safety. Emergency situations are still safe and reliable.

6. Long emergency lighting time: a self-contained battery or external centralized power supply can provide at least 30 minutes of continuous lighting. The comprehensive emergency duration extends up to 3 hours. It sometimes lasts even longer. This facilitates the completion of emergency treatment. It also allows for personnel evacuation.


Through the above analysis, emergency lighting focuses on providing illumination and instructions in emergency situations, while general lighting focuses on daily lighting needs. In addition to the above differences between emergency lighting and general lighting, there are also differences in brightness and distribution, maintenance and testing, cost, and type of fixture. Emergency lighting provides an additional safeguard to general lighting. The two form a complementary, but irreplaceable. They are an important part of a modern lighting system.




1. Under what circumstances does emergency lighting start automatically?

Emergency lighting is automatically activated when mains failure is detected. An emergency signal is received (e.g. fire alarm system). Lighting is provided instantly.

2. What is the difference between ordinary lighting and emergency lighting in terms of installation location?

Ordinary lighting can be installed in any area that needs lighting according to lighting needs and design. Emergency lighting is usually installed in exits. Evacuation paths. Stairwells and public areas.

3. How does an emergency lighting system work?

Emergency lighting systems are usually powered by battery pack or generator. When normal power supply is interrupted. The system automatically switches to a back-up power source. This ensures continuous operation of lighting equipment. The purpose of this design is to provide necessary illumination in case of emergency. This helps people evacuate safely and carry out rescue work.

4. Which places need to install emergency lighting?

Depending on the use of the building and regulations emergency lighting is required in all rooms where people may be on evacuation routes. This is crucial in case of fire or other emergencies. This includes but is not limited to stairwells. Corridors, elevator vestibules refuge floors. Basements garages and any other area where evacuation of people may be necessary.

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