Addressable Emergency Lighting Systems

Even though emergency lighting is a legal requirement in work places, buildings of multiple occupancy and public buildings, many of the people responsible for these places accept an installation with far too few emergency luminaires and the occasional ubiquitous exit sign. The reasons vary, from a lack of interest, time, expertise or simply being unaware of legislation.

People often pay little heed to the mandatory requirements to test and maintain emergency lighting and all too often, it is not carried out adequately to ensure installations operate correctly and comply with legal requirements. Even if an organisation realises that emergency lighting is installed, they are often preoccupied running their business or may believe that it is the responsibility of their landlord if they are in rented premises.

Even if the landlord does retain responsibility for testing and maintenance, gaining access to carry out work is not always easy or convenient. Where emergency lighting is provided by a single central battery system, testing can be problematic since areas must not be occupied after full discharge testing when there is insufficient charge in the system battery to provide compliant emergency illumination.

Installing Self-contained emergency lighting and testing alternate fittings permits 50% of the emergency lighting to be available after each test, removing the need for testing to take place during unsociable hours or when a building is empty.

BS 5266 Part 1¹ advises that in circumstances where testing of the emergency lighting may not be carried out as required by the standards², self-testing and addressable emergency lighting systems provide an ideal solution to ensure that installations are tested.

When required and testing results are automatically recorded, ensuring compliance with legal obligations and avoiding possible prosecution.


Real-time detailed information about the operation of an addressable emergency lighting system can be viewed by any person with access through their PC, laptop, tablet or phone. In addition information about any faults can be sent automatically by email to a responsible/ competent person who will monitor it and provide any necessary maintenance and/ or repairs.

All self-contained emergency lighting luminaires and signs monitored by the addressable system incorporate automatic self-testing through their embedded microprocessors and display their status via the integral LED indicator provided. Any fault on a luminaire or sign is therefore still locally indicated.

Addressable systems should report interruptions in communications and the installations’ emergency fittings should revert to their stand-alone self-testing functionality, thereby ensuring continuous compliance and offering peace of mind.


Addressable self-contained emergency lighting systems can easily be shown to be cost effective. Each fitting has an individual battery, so should a battery fail, adjacent fittings will continue to operate, allowing continued occupation of the area and the cost of replacing a single battery is small. With a single central battery system, a battery failure can result in a building which is unable to be occupied and the cost of a replacement battery is considerably more.

As a result of not having to manually undertake a monthly test, labour costs are reduced and far more effective forward planning in terms of maintenance and repairs is allowed. This in turn also offers improved security. Finally, addressable emergency lighting systems can provide improved access management in areas with higher care needs such as care homes, medical facilities, and custodial environments.

Ongoing Savings

Whilst we have focused on keeping the owners and occupiers of premises on the right side of the law, avoiding prosecution that may result in heavy fines or even imprisonment, the labour savings that are achieved through the use of self-testing emergency lighting are substantial.

Addressable systems which are of a modular design can be expanded to provide solutions for smaller or larger premises and backward compatibility allows systems to be expanded over a practical period of time. Installing as little as possible, low cost and often of doubtful quality emergency lighting may be cheaper initially, but it could be a risk to the building occupants and therefore the responsible person.

An addressable system will typically show a payback of the additional initial cost in less than three years and provides ongoing savings throughout the life of the system. Taking the decision to install an addressable system of demonstrable good quality and long service life is a very good investment decision.