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Do I Really Need a Larger Emergency Lighting Unit?

by Cooper Clark on Jun 24, 2013

Most manufacturers of 6 and 12 volt emergency lighting equipment use a cabinet that is frequently larger than needed for the particular battery specified for the wattage of the unit itself. These manufacturers have found that it is less costly to supply only two or three cabinet sizes. However, it is very common that these cabinets have the capacity to hold batteries ranging from 8 amp-hours to 80 amp-hours. In fact, your D.C. wattage load may be as little as 27 watts but can be increased to 200-300 watts just by replacing the battery and increasing its capacity. You must be sure to use the proper voltage and cannot use a 12v battery in a 6v unit; both the charger and lamps are not compatible. With this information in mind, and using larger amp-hour battery, you may be able to add emergency light heads to the top of the unit, run remote fixtures, or increase the run-time of the emergency lights up from the fire-code-required 90 minutes to 3-4 hours for minimal investment.

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Topics: Emergency Lighting Systems, Emergency Lighting

Obsolete D.C. Central Emergency Lighting System?

by Cooper Clark on May 23, 2013

Over the last few decades there were many 32v D.C & 36v D.C. central emergency lighting systems manufactured by Dual-Lite, Light Alarms, Chloride and others.

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Topics: Emergency Lighting Systems, Emergency Lighting CT

What is an Emergency Lighting Ballast (EMB)?

by Cooper Clark on May 17, 2013

The emergency lighting ballast, also referred to as the fluorescent power pack or emergency power pack, allows the same lighting fixture to be used in both the normal and emergency operations.   In the event of a power failure, the EMB switches to the emergency mode and operates one or two of the existing lamps in the fixture for the emergency lighting fire code required ninety minutes.  These units are UL listed, have both 120/227 voltage capability, an indicator light, and test switch.  The units contain a battery, charger, and a inverter circuit in a single package.  They can be ordered in new fixtures or they can be used to retrofit older fixtures and they are able to be utilized in many different types of fixtures (flush mount fluorescent, recessed cans, etc.). The only negative factor is that the EMB is a sealed unit and when the battery fails (approx. 4-5 years later) the entire unite must be replaced.
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Topics: Emergency Lighting Systems, Understanding Emergency Lighting Fire Code

Maintenance Free Emergency Lighting Batteries?

by Cooper Clark on Apr 23, 2013

Not totally true… Wet type emergency lighting batteries always consume some of the electrolyte (sulfuric acid for lead and potassium hydroxide for nickel cadmium) when they are being charged. The need to refill is based on age, ambient temperature, charge rate, etc. and the established monitoring of properly maintained levels of liquid. The charging process normally produces a flammable gas mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. A short circuit, open flame or smoking during must be avoided when adding water to keep the fluid above the plates or the battery manufacturer’s indicated max fill level. Some maintenance free batteries that use calcium instead of lead require less maintenance because of the greater reservoir capacity. Adding distilled water where and when possible will greatly increase the life of these “so called” maintenance free batteries.

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Topics: Emergency Lighting Systems, Emergency Lighting CT

Why a NEMA for Emergency Lighting or Exit Signs?

by Cooper Clark on Apr 15, 2013

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) sets the standard for various electrical products including certain types of emergency lighting and exit signs. General specifications are as follow. The NEMA for emergency lighting is designed to withstand elements that would interfere with the normal and efficient operation of the emergency lighting unit such as wet locations, rain, and snow. The lighting heads themselves are design to be waterproof as well. The units normally come in 6 and 12v and carry D.C. lighting loads up to zero watts. Input various A.C. voltages can be requested from many many manufacturers. All units have a 90 minute run-time but can be customized for runs exceeding 1.5 hours. Most units are made of high-impact reinforced fiberglass and are extremely rugged. Most units come with a 12v 36 watt sealed lead calcium battery capable of powering remote fixtures. A number of options for this unit may be requested such as volt meter, time delays, etc. This emergency lighting is more costly than your standard units but are mandatory for specific applications.

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Topics: Emergency Lighting Systems, Emergency Lighting CT

“WHAT IS THAT ROTTEN EGG SMELL?!” Emergency Light Batteries...

by Cooper Clark on Apr 02, 2013

In many of the older, wet-type (lead antimony) batteries, they are shipped with a liquid installed called sulfuric acid.  This electrolyte is energized during the charging process to maintain the proper voltage in the battery.

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Topics: Emergency Lighting Systems, Emergency Lighting CT

What Happened to the Emergency Lighting at the Super Bowl?

by Cooper Clark on Mar 22, 2013

The TDL option (time delay) is an automatic device intended for installations where normal lighting utilizes H.I.D. (high intensity discharge) lamps.  The time delay option will keep emergency lighting operating approximately 15 minutes after the normal AC power is restored.  This will allow the H.I.D. lamps to cool down, re-start and come up to full brightness.  If you remember the 2013 Super Bowl Game, this is exactly what happened when power was lost.  When installing any type or size emergency lighting unit in areas such as auditoriums, gyms, etc. where your normal lighting is H.I.D., the time delay option is a must!

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Topics: Emergency Lighting Systems

Emergency Lighting System Batteries are Like Spark Plugs

by Cooper Clark on Mar 13, 2013

Emergency Lighting System batteries are like spark plugs.  At 30 or 40 thousand miles, would you just change one defective spark plug?  No.  You will probably change them all because most likely they have the same mileage on them.  Banks of batteries in large AC or DC emergency lighting systems are quite similar.  When one battery fails, the balance is not far behind.  As with the spark plugs in your vehicle, the replacement of all the batteries at the same time, when one fails is, in the long run, much more cost effective.  A major portion of the cost to perform either of the above-mentioned tasks includes travel, labor, shop time, disposal of old material, etc.  Drive to the auto repair shop 4, 6, or 8 times to replace one park plug or replace and dispose of 6, 12, 20 or more batteries one at a time versus replacing all your plugs or batteries at one time is much less costly.

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Topics: Emergency Lighting Systems

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Blog about facilities' life safety and lighting concerns including emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, AEDs, indoor and outdoor lighting.

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