A Question of Conversion
- Published: Wednesday, 07 March 2018 06:32
Joe Handley, applications development manager at Mackwell discusses the factors that need to be considered when converting general lighting for emergency applications.
In line with BS 5266-1 (emergency lighting code of practice) it is a fundamental requirement for all commercial premises to incorporate a compliant emergency lighting scheme. Often however, these premises have limited space to work with when it comes to incorporating health and safety features.
Safety is such a vital aspect of any building and some businesses or property owners look to convert their general lighting for emergency application when space or access is limited. This applies to both new and retrofit installations.
Appearance can be a major factor when it comes to integrating emergency lighting into a building. Allowing the luminaire to operate in both mains lighting and emergency lighting situations is convenient, and is perceived as being more aesthetically pleasing. However, as with any lighting conversions, requirements of the environment must be taken into consideration, such as:
• Humidity: how hot or cold the work space is
• Hazardous areas: high risk areas
• Space and location
Making the right choice
Considering the type of emergency lighting conversion you require is important and your decision will be affected by the above requirements. The choice between non-maintained emergency lighting (only operates when the mains supply fails), maintained emergency lighting (runs similarly to a normal luminaire but takes its power from a back-up battery when the mains supply fails), and combined emergency lighting (contains at least one lamp/light source that is powered by the emergency lighting supply and the others from the mains lighting supply) is dependent upon your emergency lighting requirements; but with advances in technology, products and the quality of conversions, converting new and existing fittings is now better regulated and very popular with both OEMs and end users.
OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) typically prefer to incorporate both general and safety lighting in one luminaire as this means they can offer a single product that satisfies all of their needs. Another benefit of converting a luminaire is that their appearance does not differ to that of a general lighting luminaire except for incorporating an LED status indicator, which is essential for knowing the condition of your emergency lighting.
Converting normal lighting for emergency use can also benefit businesses economically, as generally the products are supplied and converted by the same company, saving on cost and time. A luminaire that has been re-engineered for emergency use will include the following extra components:
• Rechargeable emergency lighting battery pack
• Emergency driver
• Status/charge indicator
Although converting general lighting tends to reduce complications during installation, additional testing is often required prior to installation due to the nature of the fittings. It is advised that any conversion project is undertaken by a reputable manufacturer or conversion house, utilising high-quality products to ensure that the system is compatible with industry standards such as BS: EN 60598-1 and BS: EN 60598-2-22. Other countries both within and outside of Europe will have their own compliance bodies and standards which should be recognised and adhered to. Emergency lighting conversions offer a number of benefits and working with a reputable manufacturer or conversion house will prevent costly alterations as a result of failing post-conversion testing, possible safety risks and delays to agreed schedules.
If you are currently looking at converting a luminaire then some factors to consider include:
• The type of conversion required
• Component compatibility
• Luminaire layout, both before and after re-engineering
• Thermal and mechanical suitability
• Marking and classification
• Routing of internal cables and the effect of EMC
• Testing and compliance requirements
• Technical files documenting the conversion
This is not an exhaustive list, which is why it is important to ensure you spend time sourcing a good manufacturer to guide you through the process, explain your options and work with you to offer the best option for a safe and impressive finished product.