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Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting is a required feature of commercial and industrial buildings according to the National Building Code. In the event of a power outage, the emergency lighting is meant to immediately turn on and illuminate exit pathways for people inside the building. While emergency lighting is not legally mandated for use in residential homes, it is a popular option that many new homebuyers and home renovators are increasingly demanding.

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Where and How Emergency Lighting Is Powered

Unlike industrial applications, homeowners' preferences for their emergency lighting systems run more to illuminate stairwells and areas where children may be playing, providing low-level general lighting until the power is restored. Emergency lighting systems run on DC power from batteries rather than AC power from home electric mains. As such, it's a good idea to test these systems every once in a while. Most emergency lighting systems use rechargeable batteries that are continually "topped up" by the home's AC power. Even so, degradation can occur over long periods of time. A variation on fixed emergency lighting systems are portable units that mount in a normal home electrical outlet and draw power from it. In the event of an outage, the lights automatically turn on and can then be used like flashlights.

Home Emergency Lighting Systems

Home emergency lighting, known less ominously as home safety lighting, does not have to be as obtrusive or "industrial" looking. Some clever designs involve the use of a battery-powered "emergency ballast" that sits inside an existing fluorescent light fixture or fixtures. The light turns on and provides its usual amount of lighting until the AC power is restored; it then functions normally once more. Such systems are relatively inexpensive because you don't have to purchase separate light bulbs and fixtures. These systems also don't take up plug or outlet space that is often in short supply. Like most emergency lighting systems, these hidden units provide approximately one to one or two hours of useful lighting before their batteries begin to run down. This is usually enough time for most temporary power interruptions to be repaired by local electrical utility companies, and it also provides homeowners sufficient time to prepare just in case the outage is more serious and threatens to be long term.

The Importance of Emergency Lighting

Even if power outages are rare in your area, they do happen from time to time. Installing a reliable emergency lighting system is one way to ensure your and your family's safety when the lights go out.