Battery Powered Emergency Lights
by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on Jan 27, 2021 12:00:00 AM
Q: Do emergency egress lights with battery backup that are connected to emergency power need to be tested annually for 90 minutes? Are there any alternatives?
A: Well, yes and no. Section 184.108.40.206 of the 2012 Life Safety Code says required emergency lighting systems shall be tested annually for 90 minutes. Is the battery-powered emergency light you are referring to a required EM light? If yes, then it’s a no-brainer - it must be tested for 90 minutes.
But if the answer is no, then you have to be concerned about the perception of such a battery powered emergency light. If it is not required, then why is it there? Also, section 220.127.116.11 of the 2012 LSC says existing features of life safety obvious to the public, if not required by the LSC, must be maintained or removed. Is the light fixture obvious to the public? If a surveyor sees it, then some surveyors say it is obvious to the public even if it is in a mechanical room, because the surveyor represents the public. I know that may be a stretch, but the point is the surveyor gets to decide if the feature is obvious to the public, not you.
You might get away with not testing non-required battery-powered EM lights with one AHJ, but I doubt all AHJs will let it go.
My advice: If you have them, you should be testing them annually for 90 minutes. It's better to be safe than sorry. Besides, if you don’t test them regularly, then they may not operate when you need them.