Lithonia Lighting manufactures a large selection of lighting products for use in industrial, commercial and residential buildings, but it is well known for its line of battery-powered emergency lights and signs. These products combine a battery, charging system and energy-efficient lighting into a small package that provides emergency lights for building evacuations or illuminated signs that mark escape routes during events like power outages or natural disasters. The battery in each fixture can typically provide over ninety minutes of power to the emergency lights or signs, giving a building's occupants plenty of time to get to the exits safely, and allowing emergency personnel plenty of time to clear the building of all occupants.
After many years of use, the batteries in emergency light fixtures will slowly lose their ability to store a full charge, leading to fixtures that either shut off too soon to be useful in an emergency, or fixtures that fail to operate completely. This can lead to a dangerous situation if the batteries are not replaced.
Here are a few signs that indicate it is time to replace the Lithonia battery in an emergency light fixture:
1) The Fixture Fails to Operate
To make sure that the emergency light fixtures will operate properly during an emergency, they should be tested at least once a month. This can be done by either unplugging the light fixture from the wall socket, if it uses a standard outlet, or by shutting off the breakers for the circuit that the light is on, if it is hard-wired to the building's power system.
If the fixture fails to illuminate when the power supply is shut off, it is likely that the battery has failed and can no longer hold a charge. In this case, the battery should be replaced immediately, with one that is compatible with the original Lithonia battery. Once the battery has been replaced, and it has had several days to charge to capacity, the test of the fixture should be repeated to make sure that the fixture illuminates for the proper amount of time, and that the battery is properly recharged afterward.
By repeating the test, you can ensure that the charging circuit is operating properly, and that it is not the original cause of the battery failure.
2) The Fixture Shuts Off Too Soon
When testing each battery retrofire monthly, the length of time that the fixture remains illuminated should be measured to gauge the performance of the battery. In many municipalities, an emergency light system must remain powered for at least ninety minutes to provide sufficient time for the building's occupants to exit safely.
If, upon removing power, your emergency light fixture does not remain illuminated for at least ninety minutes, it is a good indication that the battery is no longer capable of storing a full charge and needs to be replaced. Typically, a Lithonia battery will slowly degrade over time, gradually losing charging capacity, but in some cases, there may be an extremely quick loss of capacity. Be sure to test the lights often and time the illumination period during each test to make sure your emergency lights are operating properly.
3) The Fixture is Dim
If monthly testing reveals a fixture is no longer producing as bright of a light as it used to, it may be an indication that the Lithonia battery should be replaced. As the battery looses its ability to hold a charge, it may not be able to supply the proper amount of current or voltage to the light system, resulting in substandard illumination.
Before replacing the battery, check its contacts to make sure they are clean, which could also cause dim lights. Clean them with an abrasive, such as steel wool or sandpaper, if necessary. Also, check the condition of the wires leading from the battery to the lights. Replace the fixture if any of the wires are damaged.
If the contacts are clean, and the wires are in good condition, the problem is likely the battery and it should be replaced as soon as possible.
4) Battery Voltage is Low
If you have access to a multimeter or a voltmeter, it is wise to check the voltage of the battery periodically to determine its condition and to check the charging circuit to make sure it is operating properly. The voltage should read slightly higher than the nominal voltage listed on the battery. For example, a 12-volt sealed lead acid battery should indicate 12.6 to 12.8 volts when fully charged, and a 6-volt battery should read 6.3 to 6.4 volts. Nickel cadmium or nickel metal hydride batteries will read only slightly higher than the listed voltage.
If the battery reads lower than the rated voltage, restore power to the fixture and allow the charging system to recharge the battery. If the battery still shows low voltage after sufficient charging time has passed, the battery has likely failed and will need to be replaced.
When the charging system is functioning properly, and actively recharging the battery, the battery voltage will measure significantly higher than normal. For instance, a 12-volt battery would read between 12.8 and 15 volts. If the charging system is not operating properly, the voltage at the battery would read 12.8 or lower during the recharging cycle. Replace the fixture if the charging system has failed or is not operating properly.
Choosing a Replacement Battery
When replacing your Lithonia battery, choose a battery that is of the same chemistry as the original. If the old battery was a sealed lead acid battery, for example, replacing it with a nickel cadmium or nickel metal hydride battery would likely damage the fixture, the battery or the charging system. Also, be sure that the battery has the same voltage specifications, a similar size and shape, the same type of connectors, and an amp-hour capacity that is equal to or greater than the original.
With a new battery in your Lithonia fixture, you can be sure that your building and its occupants will be safe during the next power outage or natural disaster.