What isEmergencyLighting

Photo of Maslin emergency exit sign

What is Emergency Lighting?

Emergency lighting is a lighting fixture with a battery pack that turns on automatically when a building experiences a power failure. It is designed to either provide temporary lighting until power is restored, or guide people to the nearest exit.

In an emergency, visibility can be severely reduced due to smoke, or darkness from a power failure. Emergency and exit lights play the pivotal role of illuminating the path out of the building for at least 90 minutes. That's why the Australian NCC E4D2 requires an emergency lighting system to be installed in every building except class 1 buildings.

Emergency lighting is required to meet the Australian standards set out in AS/NZS 2293 Parts 1, 2 and 3. These standards outline the design, installation, maintenance and product requirements of emergency lighting systems. All emergency lighting must be tested and maintained every 6 months to ensure they are compliant as set out in AS/NZS 2293 standard.

What do Emergency Lights look like?

Emergency lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Although exit signs are designed to be easily identifiable, most emergency lights blend in with the building's existing lighting fixtures. That's why all emergency lights must be clearly marked with the emergency light symbol.

Emergency light symbol
Emergency light symbol

The symbol shall be black and white in color and not less than 10mm in diameter. It shall be located in a position where it will be visible from below when the luminaire is installed, except in cases where no appropriate surface exists on the luminaire.

Standards Australia (2018) Emergency lighting and exit signs for buildings, AS/NZS 2293:2018 Section 2.7C.
Photo of Maslin emergency exit sign

Exit Signs

Exit signs have a left arrow, right arrow or running man pictogram to clearly indicate emergency exit pathways. Although they are usually green, black exit signs can be used in low-light level environments.

Photo of Ocean emergency oyster light

Oyster Lights

Oyster lights are commonly used in hallways, lobbies and offices. They are aesthetic and can be switch-controlled, making them functional day-to-day while adding emergency lighting.

Photo of Sunrise recessed emergency light

Recessed Emergency Dish Light

Recessed Emergency Dish Lights (sometimes referred to as ‘Spitfires’) are simple, sleek and compact. They are a cost-effect and subtle way to add extra emergency lights to an area.

Photo of Bondi emergency batten

Batten Lights

Batten lights are typically used in carparks, stairwells and corridors. Weatherproof variants such as our Bronte are perfect for outdoor environments. Similar to oyster lights, battens can also be switch-controlled.

How many emergency lights are in my building?

The number of emergency lights in a building vary depending on building type and size. However, due to the standards and regulations, emergency lights are distributed relatively uniformly. A study conducted by SmartBT analysed over 300 residential buildings across Australia, and found an estimated 2 emergency lights per residential unit.

Although the distribution of emergency fitting types varies significantly from building to building, the average residential buidling's emergency lighting system was composed of roughly 30% battens and oyster lights, 30% recessed dish lights and 40% exit signs.

Emergency Fitting Type Distribution
Average Fitting Type Distribution

What are the types of emergency lighting systems?

Standard Emergency Lighting System

Every emergency and exit light in this type of emergency lighting system has an in-built battery that powers the light in the event of a power outage. This is the most common lighting system in Australia due to it's simplicity and low infrastructure costs. However, these need to be frequently tested and maintained to ensure that the battery is capable of discharging for a minimum of 90 minutes.

Centralised Emergency Lighting System

In a centralised emergency lighting system, every emergency and exit light is wired to a centralised backup power supply. This power supply must be tested and maintained to ensure that it can power every emergency light for a minimum duration of 90 minutes. These systems generally require expensive infrastructure costs such as fire-protected wiring and a fire-resistant room to house the power supply.

Maintained vs. Non-maintained

Maintained Emergency Lighting

These emergency lights are always illuminated regardless of whether or not there is a power failure. Most exit signs fall under this category.

Non-maintained Emergency Lighting

As the name suggests, non-maintained emergency lighting only activates during a power outage. A classic example of one of these emergency lights is the Sunrise.

Switch-controlled Emergency Lighting

Switch-controlled emergency lights can be turned on and off with a light switch during normal operation. However, they are always illuminated during a power outage. Common examples are oyster and batten emergency lights.

What are the Legal Requirements?

The Building Codes of Australia (BCA), found within the National Construction Code (NCC), along with Australian Standards AS 2293.1-3, outline the classifications, types of buildings, and designated areas where emergency and exit lighting are mandated in Australia.

These standards also state the minimum illumination levels of at least 0.2 lux along evacuation paths to ensure visibility during emergencies as well as regular testing and maintenance. Function tests and discharge tests are required every 6 months to ensure the reliability of the fittings in an emergency. Batteries and lamps should be inspected regularly, and test results must be recorded in a log book available on site.

Qualified electricians and fire safety professionals with a thorough understanding of these Codes utilise them to precisely identify locations where such lighting is required, based on the specific layout of the building.

Why use Elumen emergency lights?

Quality & Reliability

We pride ourselves on supplying the market with affordable, quality products backed with a warranty that is double the industry standard. All Elumen products are designed and developed in-house by Australian engineers, for the Australian market. They are stringently tested to ensure product reliability and longevity.

Safety & Sustainability

Elumen products feature long-life energy-saving LEDs to reduce operational and maintenance costs.

Our unique modular design, such as our replaceable emergency pack, allows our customers to quickly repair only what has failed to reduce landfill and keep replacement costs down.

Futhermore, Elumen can achieve savings of up to 90% energy using our sensor-controlled dim down technology.

How do I test Emergency and Exit Lighting?

It is crucial to test emergency lights regularly to ensure that they meet all safety requirements in the event of an emergency. This should only be done by qualified electricians and fire safety professionals with a thorough understanding of the Codes and Standards.

Manual Drop Test

A manual drop test is the most common way to test an emergency lighting system. This involves manually disconnecting power to the emergency lights using a dedicated circuit or test switch. Then, the emergency lights are checked after 90 minutes to ensure they are still operational. All results are recorded in a log book and any failed fittings must be repaired before an AFSS can be issued.

Maintenance Record Keeping

AS2293 dictates that every building must keep a logbook detailing the installation, testing and maintenance of its emergency lighting. This form of record-keeping is often required by local councils to be submitted annually.

You may face substantial fines if you can't provide proper records during a fire safety audit. Make sure to check with your local authority or with fire safety professionals for your building's annual testing requirements.

Automated Emergency Light Testing


Self-Testing Emergency Lights

Elumen Self-Test Badge

Our advanced Self-Test range makes emergency and exit testing simple and reliable. These emergency lights can conduct regular self-diagnostic and AS2293 compliant tests. Schedule a test at a convenient time and the results will be ready to download directly to your phone or displayed on the fitting's status indicator.

  • AS2293 compliant test results, downloaded to your phone in seconds
  • Automated test schedules
  • No dedicated emergency lighting circuits or test switches
  • Customisable settings for enhanced control
  • 5 years warranty
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Automated Emergency Lighting System

Elumen Networking Badge

Take Self-Testing to the next level with automatic test result collection. Our networking range leverages Plexus, a leading indoor wireless network, to quickly and reliably coordinate tests across all the emergency lights in a building. These results are collected through the network and published to your digital logbook on the cloud.

  • AS2293 compliant test results direct to the cloud - view anytime, anywhere
  • Multi-site cloud monitoring digital logbook and master sheet
  • Fully automated testing schedule
  • Compatible with wireless building sensors (eg. motion, air quality, temperature)
  • 5 years warranty
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