Ask the experts: Greenlite’s guide to automatic vs manual light testing

Category: Education
Ask the experts: Greenlite's guide to automatic vs manual light testing

In the sharp world of emergency lighting, one element is paramount; lights have to perform in challenging scenarios. Logically enough, this makes testing an essential part of the game.

What’s less clear though, and what many of you are asking about, concerns options for automatic emergency light testing vs manual testing.

Tests have to take place, so there is a role for automation to save time and add reliability. Yet there are additional, technical reasons why automation is advantageous.

Automatic lighting testing vs manual lighting testing

“Automatic testing is beneficial as the emergency lights can be tested individually, in an ideal situation the emergency lighting would self-test one after the other rather than all at once,” begins Andrew Balmer, Lighting Designer at Greenlite.

“This would mean that in the event of an emergency during the test, the majority of lights would be able to operate for the full 3 hour duration and there would only be the one emergency light being tested that wouldn’t last the duration.

“Contrastingly, if all lights were tested at the same time, which is common for a manual test, then all of the emergency lights may fail before the 3 hours as the batteries would be running low from the test.

“This would also include charging time after the test, as the installation would require time to recharge the batteries so the installation can perform as designed.

“A manual test can be performed out of hours to avoid this problem, it’s generally acceptable if occupants are aware a test is being carried out. But extra care should be taken to ensure safety in the event of a future emergency.”

The expert prognosis; automation is best

Lux agrees with our expert’s opinion; let the machines do the work. ‘A significant proportion of people are less than scrupulous about testing and maintaining emergency lighting installations,’ It writes.

‘The standard three-hour test is rather laborious. OK, so it’s pretty simple to do, but conducting it for the full time required is labour intensive.

‘Automatic testing is a tempting alternative. It provides a reliable method of regularly checking that the emergency luminaire’s battery is connected and receiving charge, that the lamp will strike correctly when required and that the battery capacity is sufficient to run the lamp for the rated duration period.

‘As well as providing confidence that emergency lighting is adequately tested to comply with BS EN 5266-8/EN 50172 and all local regulations, automatic testing of emergency lighting can be shown to be more cost effective than manual testing for larger installations,’ Lux concludes.

Therefore, the writing is on the wall. Testing emergency lighting automatically is safer, can be cheaper and is definitely more reliable.

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