Emergency lighting is one component of a building’s security systems, but it is perhaps the most important. Provides a minimum level of visibility to allow occupants to easily and safely reach exits to the outside. In addition, in an emergency, it assists personnel and first responders in locating safety equipment, performing safety functions, or disrupting unsafe equipment or operations.

About emergency lighting

In its simplest form, it is a self-contained emergency lighting device that automatically turns on in the event of a power outage or a failure of the building’s lighting circuit.

Emergency lighting is governed by federal, provincial or recognized association codes and criteria. This regulation reflects the collective will to guarantee safety in the evacuation route of residential, commercial and industrial buildings.

Escape route refers to a continuous, unobstructed path of safe exit from a building, structure, or space. To comply with various safety codes, buildings or parts of a building must provide a minimum amount of light on escape routes.

How does emergency lighting work?

In the event of a power outage, the alternating current (AC) power source is cut off, thus turning on a source consisting of a battery pack and transferring the power to the lighting system (this is called direct current or DC).

About exit signs

An exit sign is a sign used in a public building. Indicates the location of the closest emergency exit in case of fire or other emergency . The sign must be powered, have an arrow pointing to the exit, and can be installed in various ways depending on preference or location (ceiling mounted, recessed, surface mounted, or suspended).

AC = alternating current (mains)

DC = direct current (batteries)

Alternating current (AC) refers to an electric current that flows alternately in one direction and then the other, as opposed to direct current (DC), whose electrons continuously flow in only one direction. Alternating current is the way that electrical power is supplied to businesses and homes and is the form of electrical power commonly used by the general public to connect appliances, televisions, fans, and lamps to a wall switch.

Direct current (DC) is constantly self-powered, as with a battery, so that the current (voltage) is always constant, with no voltage spikes or drops.

Devices normally on (ON) or normally off (OFF)

  • ” Normally on ” means that the unit is on all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Activates when AC power is present or when DC power takes over. The output signals are always “normally on”.
  • ” Normally off ” means that the unit is off when AC power is on, but turns on when DC power is on. Satellite units or headlights are usually of the “normally off” type.

Types of emergency lighting

The traditional type

Self-contained (battery-operated) units that use sealed lead-acid batteries in various configurations to provide 6V, 12V, or 24 VDC output to the satellite units when AC power is removed from the panel to which they are connected.

Self-contained (battery operated) units will run for the minimum time required by code, 30 minutes, or up to a maximum of 120 minutes.


There are two types of corrugators:

  • The autonomous power supply type IPS (for Isolated Power Supply), is a reserve or reserve system with non-instantaneous transfer.
  • UPS or uninterruptible power supply – in short, no load interruption. They maintain a charge cycle 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the transfer is imperceptible.

Both types are battery operated (mini-inverters up to 1440W), use 12 or 24V (DC) battery power and convert it to 120V (AC) for a minimum of 30 minutes with a single circuit, allowing normal luminaires to provide 100% of their rated lighting power both in normal power-on mode and during a blackout.

Emergency generators

Emergency electric generators do not require batteries, but rather a group of tanks powered by diesel or propane to provide power for essential lighting and signaling operation in the event of a main power failure .

Transfer time varies depending on the systems but is typically 10-16 seconds, depending on the loads and the age of the systems. These systems are normally used in large industrial projects.