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Smart Emergency Lighting Solutions for Universities

Sprawling campuses packed with thousands of staff and students make the maintenance of emergency lighting a significant challenge for universities and colleges. With densely populated, high rise student accommodation blocks and heavily trafficked education and recreation sites, it is imperative that, in an evacuation situation, emergency lighting works effectively to get people out of the building quickly and safely. Here, we explain why LED emergency lighting is the most effective solution available today.

Ensuring emergency lighting works

Not only does emergency lighting need to guide staff and students out of a building; it is also vital that they can do this quickly and without coming to harm. Evacuating a busy area in low-light situations raises the risk of people bumping into objects, falling over each other and crowding in such a way that they get hurt and slow the progress of the evacuation. To be fully effective, an emergency lighting system needs to minimise the risk of these things happening.

A major challenge for university property managers is to ensure that all emergency lights are working properly. With so many emergency lights to manage, conducting regular tests in line with regulation is a hugely time-consuming operation. This can be a real burden on maintenance staff when there are a wide range of other critical systems on campus, HVAC, access control, IT systems and other lighting infrastructures, etc., that also need similar levels of attention.

Compliance with regulations

The UK has strict regulations governing the installation and testing of emergency lighting equipment. All universities have to comply with BS5266, which specifies where emergency lighting needs to be installed, the type of lighting required, the period that lights must stay illuminated for in an emergency, and how frequently testing must take place.

With regard to testing, full inspections must be carried out every year by a suitably approved electrical contractor, while each light needs to have a monthly functioning test. The regulations also require universities to keep accurate records of the tests and any maintenance work undertaken, with a lack of compliance potentially leading to fines or prosecution.

How LED emergency lighting helps

LED emergency lights and control systems not only help universities and colleges overcome many of the compliance hurdles; they can also cut the cost and burden of testing and maintenance.

As for compliance, LED emergency lighting ensures that all areas have the necessary illumination levels required during evacuation (the minimum is 1 Lux) and that if mains electricity goes offline, a unit’s internal battery can operate as a backup power source. As LEDs use far less energy than other bulbs, these batteries have a significantly greater capacity to keep the bulbs illuminated for longer than the minimum period required in an emergency, which is usually 3 hours.

LEDs also offer several key benefits when it comes to testing and maintenance. They have lifespans of around 50,000 hours, which greatly exceeds that of either fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. As a result, they will need to be replaced far less frequently. With thousands of emergency lights to look after across campus, this can save maintenance teams a considerable amount of time.

Perhaps of even greater benefit, however, is that the latest emergency LED systems have built-in self-testing features which are connected to a centralised control system. Essentially, this connectivity means a university can integrate its multi-site emergency lighting into a single system and manage it from a centralised dashboard. When combined with the self-testing features of modern LED units, this can reduce the burden of monthly functioning tests and maintenance considerably.

The integrated self-testing features check that the unit’s bulb, charger and batteries are working correctly. If a problem is detected, the unit’s indicator lights start to emit a flashing signal that visually informs maintenance teams exactly what the problem is. This means that the time taken to conduct monthly functioning tests can be radically reduced as teams will only need to look for flashing indicator lights to discover and identify what the issue is and won’t need to put thousands of individual lights into outage mode.

The connectivity of more advanced systems enables this information to be transmitted directly to the centralised dashboard where staff are instantly notified. This offers potentially lifesaving advantages, as discovering and rectifying issues with emergency lighting won’t be reliant on visual functioning tests.

Although not related to emergency situations, another advantage of installing LED emergency lighting is that it is up to 80% more energy efficient than other forms of emergency lighting and produces 80% less CO2 emissions. This can help universities reduce energy bills and their carbon footprint.


The latest LED emergency lighting offers universities and colleges a range of benefits. Its connectivity, built-in self-testing features and durable bulbs help to reduce maintenance burdens, ensure compliance, cut energy costs and improve sustainability.

For more information, visit our LED Emergency Lighting page.

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