The emergency lighting system, including any illuminated exit signs, should be checked by simulated power failure;
- monthly to ensure illumination (flick test).
- annually for all its duration (drop test).
The emergency lights and illuminated exit signs should be tested regularly, both to ensure that they work and to prolong the life of the batteries. The emergency lighting units are found in a variety of forms; as stand-alone fittings, in fluorescent light fittings fitted with battery packs, self-testing lighting systems, or with a central battery.
The emergency lights should be identifiable because there should be a red or green neon light which shows that the battery is being charged. The neon light being on does not mean that the emergency light works (the battery or bulb could have failed), so the test is designed to simulate a power failure.
The method of test is usually by test key which is inserted into a key switch, which is commonly found next to, or incorporated into the light switch; this isolates the electricity supply to the lighting circuit, which allows the battery to take over. It is important to remember to switch the circuit back on after the test otherwise the battery will run down and the lights cannot be switched on.
It is not necessary to simulate power failure on self-testing lamps.
Test key which is inserted into key switch to check emergency lights.
Departments or their contractors should test the emergency lights monthly. The duration of the test is just long enough to ensure that the lights work. If a Self-testing system is installed, it should also be checked (not tested) monthly, to identify any defects.
In exceptionally large buildings, sections of the building should be tested at a time, so the emergency lights are not kept on battery for extended periods. If any of the emergency lighting units fail to illuminate, they should be repaired or replaced by the department’s contractor.
It is recommended that a contract is put in place for the annual “drop test” which is a test of the batteries to support the load for the full 3 hours duration.