Author Topic: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting  (Read 2886 times)
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American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « on: May 22, 2015, 07:32:35 AM » Author: dor123
I've noticed that american emergency lighting, is totally not what we have here, and outside North America.
While here (And I think every country outside North America), our emergency lighting, are either portable lanterns, wall mounted or ceiling fixtures with fluorescents or LEDs, (Sometimes with diffusers) that spread the light evenly, in North America, it is usually sealed beam incandescent or halogen PAR floods, that produces a concentrated light.
What is the reason for the huge difference between the american and the non american emergency lighting?
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #1 on: May 22, 2015, 07:53:55 AM » Author: Solanaceae
the emergency lighting at my middle and high school are mostly small batttery powered LED exit signs, and we also have a generator. the troffers in the elementary school im pretty sure had red cased bodine back up ballasts. we also had the battery operated halogen wall spotlight fixtures but they were replaced with LED systems.
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #2 on: May 22, 2015, 08:09:11 AM » Author: Medved
I understand the question as to ask about the lanterns providing just illumination, so not the exit guide signs or so.

I guess it is a combination of few aspects:
- It was the first counry with huge buildings, what meant quite strong potential for a high number of fatalities in case something bad happens, just because there are many people present with quite lengthy eacuation time, so the strong need for the emergency equipment. The small buildings in the rest of the world meand way less people involved in the incident and event when it happened, the small building means very fast evacuation. So no such strong need for the emergency equipment in general.
- They were first able to make such decentralized battery powered emergency lighting systems (again given by the fact the wiring was one of the first thing to get damaged in the huge buildings), but at that time just incandescents were available as the only light source with sufficient reliability suitable for battery operation. In order to limit the energy eed, the designs have utilizedquite strong focusing by the use of reflectors. In other parts of the world the centralized battery system were still in use. And when the need for such decentralized system arrived, the more efficient fluorescent technology became available.
- The general prefference of the integrated lamps with their reflectors (it was mastered by their factories and it allowed the design of the fixtures to not be sensitive for any accuracy or so, so cheap to produce, yet still with guaranteed performance). The rest of the world preffered more elaborate fixtures (with all the optics,...), but plain simple universal use lamps. So for the emergency they just used the nondirected diffuse style illumination. And that then find the way into the reated standards: The US ones are designed more with the focused light in mind, the other world with the diffuse light in mind. So design the installation according to the US standards with diffuse light becomes quite problematic and vice versa.

- Then the other is the mindset of not changig something proven, reliable, mainly when so many people safety depend on it, mainly when there is not much reason for it (that lighting does not cosume any significant power anyway, regardless how efficient or inefficient it is; the only difference is the battery size). That is not that special, but when other parts become accustomed with the fluorescents (and their advantage of better illumination covering more area with the same power), they just keep using that technology as the "proven" one. The shift towards LED's is then quite common, but as in the US people become accustomed to the focused lights, while the others to the diffused ones, the LED's allow simpler construction of the diffused (you do not need as dense arrangement), the LED's made according to the non-US style arrived first. And it get accepted faster, because one of the fluorescent drawback is the need of the rather high voltage for ignition, what becomes a problem once water gets into the light, affecting the reliability in some situations. With LED it will light for some time even when all the unprotected internal installation of the fixture becomes completely wet. It won't survive it long term, but at that moment it will still work. Plus for such low power levels the LED's are the most efficient light source for quite some time, so suffice with really small, so cheap battery.
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #3 on: May 22, 2015, 08:25:08 AM » Author: dor123
Thanks Medved.
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #4 on: May 22, 2015, 04:36:39 PM » Author: nicksfans
The newest emergency lights in the US are LED, but are based on the design of the older ones. The low voltage incandescent lamps are typically only found in installations older than 5-10 years, but incandescent fixtures and lamps are still available for purchase. In many larger commercial buildings, some of the overhead linear fluorescent or CFL fixtures have emergency ballasts.
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #5 on: May 22, 2015, 11:49:29 PM » Author: Solanaceae
Now that LEDisease is spreading rapidly, we could expect to see little to no halojen emergency lights. They have new requirements to retrofit exit signs to LED.
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #6 on: May 23, 2015, 12:38:21 AM » Author: Ash
That is nuts, whats wrong with the existing ones that are already installed and work ?
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #7 on: May 23, 2015, 06:26:36 AM » Author: Medved
That is nuts, whats wrong with the existing ones that are already installed and work ?

Usually the battery fails after some time, so needs to be replaced.
Many makers require the battery (and after some time even the complete fixture) to be replaced at certain intervals even regardless how they appear - just because the endurance tests have shown increasing rate of hard failures as it gets older. It is about the type of failures, when the capacity seems to be still OK during the periodic test, but it just suddenly stops working at all. But with this type of equipment you just can not afford such failures at all.
And I guess even when not the manufacturer itself, the fire code does require the complete fixture to be replaced after some period of time, otherwise it treat it legally the same as not installed.

There is no need for the LED efficiency in terms of the power consumption of the fixture, but because the safety standard requires certain light output for certain time (and it is very strict on this), the high LED efficacy means way capacity battery is sufficient. And that lower capacity means the complete fixture gets way smaller, cheaper and e.g. easier to have more margin in the battery capacity, so at the end it's longer life.




And the LED types look the same, because their performance are just exactly the same as for the older incandescents, the fir code does not care what technology is inside, it asks just for certain performance criteria...
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #8 on: May 23, 2015, 08:28:45 AM » Author: Ash
Over here battery replacement is in the required maintenance, but no requirement is made to replace the lantern. It is assumed to be intact "forever", as a properly made lantern should in fact be
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #9 on: May 23, 2015, 08:51:05 AM » Author: Medved
Over here battery replacement is in the required maintenance, but no requirement is made to replace the lantern. It is assumed to be intact "forever", as a properly made lantern should in fact be

The thing is, after you took it down and disassemble it few times to replace the battery (and do the inspection), it cracks somewhere and therefore it has to be replaceddue to that reason.
And some components in the control electronic (electrolytic capacitors) tend to age and get unreliable over time, so e.g. the charging control may stop working properly, compromising the runtime.
Plus dirt uses to gather inside and compromises the light output, but it is difficult to remove it without damaging the lantern.

It is true, it was on an optical smoke detector, where the complete device replacement (10 years after the date of manufacture) was required by the manual (and I think it comes from the fire code), so it could be it is not the case for the emergency lanterns, but if there would be such limit, I don't think it will be shorter than similar 10 years period.
And that uses to be the time, when all the installation usually get replaced anyway...
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #10 on: May 24, 2015, 08:57:40 PM » Author: Solanaceae
I have also seen these red lights glowing within the fluorescent troffers at school, even when the light is off. Is that indicating of an emerjency ballast or circuit breaker that is still on?
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #11 on: May 24, 2015, 09:03:15 PM » Author: nicksfans
The red light indicates the presence of an emergency ballast.
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #12 on: May 25, 2015, 01:10:26 AM » Author: Ash
I have quite a few fluorescent exit signs and emergency lights

All of them are built sturdy enough to last many times of opening for battery and lamp replacements. I opened each one just for looking and playing with it probably many times more than the number of times it is opened in real use, and there are no signs of wear on the structure

I have to see yet one that does not work due to a bad capacitor. Due to them being powered by 50 Hz transformer in normal (charging) mode, the capacitors see very low ripple and stay at ambient temperature. The ambient temperature is either room temperature, or a bit higher from a 8W T5 lamp on Swtich Start warming the atmosphere inside the same enclosure, but it does not give a lot of temperature rise. Also, i suspect that the circuit itself is not really sensitive to the capacitor parameters. I have to try some day to desolder the capacitor completely or solder in a "defective" one (lower capacity in series with resistor) and see what happens

The exit signs are often IP40 and up so there is no problem of dirt ingress. In others nothing prevent you from wiping the diffuser clean when you are up there to change a battery....



In the ones i have here, the red LED is parallel to the charging diode+resistor pair, so it indicate that current is going into the battery. Unfortunately EOL batteries go short circuit or high impedance so the LED keep lighting even when the battery is EOL. To really test it, for a quick test some lights have a test button, for a full test you flip the breaker off and let them go for the rated time

They get 2 incoming hot wires, one from the switch that goes to all lights, and one from before the switch (so permanent on) that goes to the emergency pack

See here how thy are constructed :
http://www.lighting-gallery.net/gallery/displayimage.php?album=2158&pos=80&pid=60414
http://www.lighting-gallery.net/gallery/displayimage.php?album=2158&pos=31&pid=108206
http://www.lighting-gallery.net/gallery/displayimage.php?album=2158&pos=44&pid=107417

And i have some more which i have not yet uploaded, they will come soon
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #13 on: May 25, 2015, 02:16:23 PM » Author: Solanaceae
Thank you, nick.
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Re: American emergency lighting, versus non-american emergency lighting « Reply #14 on: May 25, 2015, 02:23:32 PM » Author: Solanaceae
Interesting, I've never seen anything like the barak, which is actually good on lamps. Most inverters are he** on tubes, especially since they are underdriven and/or cold cathode start.
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