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You and Your Emergency Light Battery

December 11, 2012

Written by: Randy Walker

Emergency lighting refers to a building’s system of lighting that allows people to safely evacuate a building during a power outage or other emergency. Old emergency lighting systems operated on simple batteries, but new systems can be either maintained, which means that they are wired into the regular electrical grid as well as battery backup, or non-maintained, which means they only come on when the power fails. These emergency lighting systems are powered by various types of battery systems that should be inspected regularly to ensure that they are operating correctly. Here are some tips for evaluating your battery system, and finding a replacement emergency light battery when necessary.

To check your emergency light battery, you should locate the compartment on the emergency light that contains the battery backup. For exit signs, the compartment is near the top of the sign. For larger lights, it may be located under or behind the light, or the system may be wired to a generator. If the system is hard-wired, always seek a qualified electrician to address problems.

If the Battery has a Wire Harness, Remove It

Some batteries simply have wires attached to the terminals that can be easily removed. Be sure to note which wire is positive and which is negative; many newer wires are coated with colored plastic to make this distinction easier. If the wires look similar, be sure you tag or mark them in some way so you do not become confused when you hook up the new battery. Hooking up a battery incorrectly can cause damage to the battery, the light, or even harm to you.

Choose the Right Battery for your Emergency Lighting System

Not all batteries work with every light. Emergency lighting batteries come in different sizes, voltages, and configurations. Only use the type of battery approved by your lighting system’s manufacturer. This information can be found in the literature included with the lighting. If you no longer have that information, remove the battery from one of your emergency lights to match it to a new battery. When choosing batteries, be sure you read some reviews of the model you are considering. The internet has made it possible to quickly identify companies and suppliers that give less-than-perfect products to their customers, so do a little research before you invest in a quantity of emergency lighting products.

Test the Battery

Always test the batteries you replace to be sure they are working. Most emergency lights have a “test” button on the side so that you can easily test your new lighting battery to be sure it is working. You can also use the test button for a quick test for non-maintained lighting systems on a monthly basis or even more often.

Maintained vs. Non-Maintained Systems

Understand how your emergency lighting system works. If you have a maintained system, it will operate differently than a non-maintained system. Part of a maintained system is hardwired into the AC electrical system that normally operates the rest of your electrical lights and appliances. The other part is a non-wired, battery operated backup that runs on direct current from stationary power sources. It is also possible in larger buildings that your emergency lighting system may be wired into a generator. Be sure that you understand exactly how your system works so that you can safely replace your batteries without the risk of electric shock. Replacing emergency lighting batteries is a job that must be done on a regular basis. However, it pays to examine the best deals on emergency lighting and to understand your system so that you can replace these batteries safely.

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