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    Codes and standards

    Emergency lighting is a vital part of a facility’s life safety program. While it is essential to consult federal, state and local codes related to emergency lighting for your project, there are some general guidelines for code requirements.

    Although state and local building codes vary, most are based upon:

    The National Electrical Code®, NFPA 70®, Article 700; 
    The Life Safety Code®, NFPA 101®, Sections 7-8 through 7-10;
    The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which offers some general guidelines.

    Key information

    These codes provide complete information on emergency lighting requirements; however, a good introduction is found in NFPA 101, Section 
    "Emergency illumination shall be provided for a minimum of 1½ hours in the event of failure of normal lighting. Emergency lighting facilities shall be arranged to provide initial illumination that is not less than an average of 1 ft-candle (10.8 lux) and, at any point, not less than 0.1 ft-candle (1.1 lux), measured along the path of egress at floor level. Illumination levels shall be permitted to decline to not less than an average of 0.6 ft-candle (6.5 lux) and, at any point, not less than 0.06 ft-candle (0.65 lux) at the end of 1½ hours. The maximum-to-minimum illumination shall not exceed a ratio 40 to 1." 
    It is important to remember that code requirements reflect minimum standards and, therefore, are generally considered only a starting point in designing emergency lighting systems. Additional emergency lighting, beyond minimums, is warranted in some facilities, depending upon facility use and other relevant factors. Hospitals and nursing homes, for example, are excellent candidates for additional emergency lighting. The same is true of manufacturing and production areas, which often present numerous potential safety hazards even under the best of conditions. 

    Summary of requirements

    Emergency lighting is required throughout the path of egress and must operate for a minimum of 90 minutes.
     (See NFPA® 101® Life Safety Code®.)

    Stairs, aisles, corridors, ramps, escalators and passageways leading to safety must be continuously illuminated for a minimum of 90 minutes. Illumination times for Bodine fluorescent emergency ballasts, emergency LED drivers and emergency lighting inverters meet or exceed the National Electrical Code®, Life Safety Code® and UL 90-minute requirements. For codes requiring longer illumination times, Bodine offers models with two- and four-hour runtimes. 

    Emergency lighting transfer must be automatic. 

    Transfer of emergency lighting must be automatic (within 10 seconds) of loss of the normal lighting supply power. Bodine fluorescent emergency ballasts, emergency LED drivers and emergency lighting inverters provide instant backup lighting when the normal supply of power fails. 

    Emergency lighting must provide an average of 1 footcandle initial illumination.

    Emergency lighting facilities must provide initial illumination that is no less than an average of 1 footcandle (10.8 lux) and a minimum at any point of 0.1 footcandle (1.1 lux) measured along the path of egress at floor level. A maximum-to-minimum illumination uniformity ratio of 40 to 1 shall not be exceeded to minimize dark-to-bright spots. Proper placement of Bodine products will help ensure code compliance with regard to footcandle illumination. 

    Changes in direction must be clearly marked.

    Changes in direction or routes that are not immediately apparent must be clearly marked. Specifying Bodine products in addition to other unit equipment helps ensure an adequate level of safety results.


    UL product testing & code compliance

    Bodine fluorescent emergency ballasts, emergency LED drivers, emergency lighting inverters and other products are tested by Underwriters Laboratories in accordance with the UL standards. These standards vary by product type but is primarily UL 924, “Emergency Lighting and Power Equipment”. Products are either:


    UL Listed
    UL Listed products for factory or field installation. The majority of Bodine products, of all types, carry the UL Listing and are ideal for field installation in order to retrofit existing luminaires/systems into code-complaint emergency lighting.
    UL Recognized
    UL Recognized products are suitable for factory installation only. Certain Bodine products are optimized for the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and must be originally installed in the factory. However, replacing a UL Recognized product in the field, this is allowed so long as the installation follows the OEM’s original method.


    Codes mandate, among other actions and standards, periodic monitoring of emergency lighting equipment once it is installed. Emergency operation must be tested monthly (30 seconds) and, for battery-powered sources, annually (90 minutes) in order to meet the NFPA's Life Safety Code (see Section 7.9). Moreover, the NFPA requires that written records of these tests and their accompanying visual inspections be kept as proof of maintenance (see the Life Safety Code, Section 7.9 and the National Electrical Code, Article 700). Because this emergency equipment is used only on an emergency basis, it is important that regular maintenance be performed. As with all capital investments, upkeep is vital and provides proof when liability questions arise. Common sense must be used in planning emergency lighting systems. The major objective of adequate and reliable emergency lighting is to help ensure occupants a safe, panic-free exit from a building in the event of a power failure. 
    This section contains a revision of portions of a 1977 article written for EC&M by former Bodine Company CEO David Crippen.