Emergency lighting installation, testing, maintenance and replacement is an essential part of facility management and can be expensive.  In this article, we’re going to look at all the hidden costs of emergency lighting and identify how they can be minimised or eliminated.

Replacement Costs

During the required six-monthly emergency lighting tests, buildings can experience high failure rates of up to 60%. High failure rates commonly result from selecting the cheapest quote which has used low-quality products. However, the shorter product life-span of the lower quality product will often increase costs in the long term due to the high rate of replacement resulting in the expense of new products and installation.

Removed Pile of Emergency Lights


Warranty and Warranty Management

Buying products with long warranties is the first step to ensuring the frequency and cost of replacements is minimised. However, without effective warranty management, you run the risk of paying for replacements that are still under warranty.

A spreadsheet or Airtable is an excellent way to keep track of your warranties. Click the “copy base” button on the bottom right of the embedded Airtable below to start your own Warranty Spreadsheet

Alternatively, some network emergency lighting systems such as EMIoT (pictured below) provide automatic warranty tracking stored in the Cloud. This means the duration of warranties for all light fittings is tracked without any user input resulting in savings and management peace of mind.

Quick Component Replacements

Another way to reduce replacement costs, and reduce waste going to landfill, is to select emergency lights with quick component replacement designs. This eliminates the need to replace the complete light fitting. Additionally, some battery replacement designs such as the Kwicky module allows for a safer replacement without powering down the electricity supply.

WBS kwicky emergency module with LED batten

Obtain Multiple Maintenance Quotations

For extensive repairs always source at least three quotations ensuring you compare the product warranties, technologies and that the products are from a reputable and established manufacturer.

Click here to find an FPA Australia provider of choice in your area or contact WBS Technology to obtain a quotation.

Failure Confirmation and Transparency

Building owners and stakeholders can often feel helpless when receiving maintenance and repair costs as they have no measure to confirm the costs are required.

Building owners, strata managers, strata committee or other stakeholders responsible for decision making can often feel helpless when assessing maintenance and repair costs as they may have no means of comparing the merits of different options.

To confirm lighting failures and the cost of replacements,  building maintenance stakeholders can:

  • Engage another external contractor to reassess the failures (Click here to find an FPA Australia provider of choice in your area)
  • Visually inspect the test result LED if self-testing products are installed. (Refer to the products testing guide on the manufacturers’ website)
  • Request a copy of the testing report from the monitored system if a monitored system is installed.
  • Obtain quotations for self-testing or a monitored system to accommodate for future transparency. The EMIoT system facilitates transparency and ease of ensuring compliance as it provides stakeholders with automatic emails detailing testing results and remote real-time online monitoring of all emergency light fittings.
Man Performing Emergency Lighting Test

Compliance and Certification Costs

Emergency lights require testing every six months to ensure that they are in safe working condition. The test needs to be conducted by a trained service provider who is required to test the lights for a total of 90 minutes. Expert knowledge is required to simulate a power outage for that period.

Coordinating external contractors and notifying building occupants can be a costly exercise especially if the test needs to be conducted out of standard business hours.

Buildings are required to submit annual fire safety statements to the local council and are subject to fines if the fire safety statement is not submitted in compliance with its due date. Buildings built prior to the current standards commonly require expensive installations to achieve their minimum fire safety requirements.


Regularly Obtain and Compare Quotes

The best way to select the most appropriate product and provider is to regularly obtain quotations from at least three service providers.  In this way, you can source the best quality option at the best price and avoid paying excessive costs.

Plan Ahead to Avoid Noncompliance Fees

To avoid costly non-compliance fees, it’s important to organise your building to be tested by a competent fire safety practitioner/s in advance.  This allows enough time for repairs, replacements and re-testing.

Monitored Systems

Monitored emergency lighting systems allow for automatic emergency lighting performance testing. This provides the advantages of enabling the 90-minute emergency lighting test to be scheduled out of standard business hours and without the need for anyone to attend during the test.  This saves time and manual testing costs and reduces inconvenience. Additionally, no testing switch is required to be installed.

An external contractor is still required to visually inspect every light fitting to ensure no physical damage is present and that each light fitting is clean.

Monitored systems are typically 30-40% more expensive than standard emergency lights with the exception of the EMIoT system. EMIoT costs only 20% more than traditional emergency lights but includes certification services and delivers a range of benefits including cost savings and ease of emergency lighting management, testing and compliance.

Self-Testing Systems

Similarly to monitored systems, self-testing solutions conduct autonomous tests independently on each light fitting. These tests are performed on a regular basis, and the results are provided via a mobile app or in the form of an indicating LED on the side of the light fitting.

With this solution in place, the building doesn’t require a test switch and the automatic test can occur out of standard business hours. Allowing, the external contractor to collect the results, perform the visual check and cleaning with minimal disruption to building occupants.

Cleaning, Plastering and Painting Costs

The cleaning of emergency lights is essential to ensure the internal hardware does not fail due to dust ingress. The covering should be cleaned to ensure optimal lighting levels.

Plastering and painting are often needed when the replacement emergency lights are of a different size or shape from the original light fitting. This can result in paint of a different colour of old paint being visible, an area that is cleaner than its surrounding being visible or holes showing, especially when installing smaller, recessed replacements.

Exit light installed on a roof with exposed old painted area


Compare Replacement Product Size

To avoid holes, unpainted areas or exposing earlier paintwork compare the replacement product size with your existing product or ask the contractor doing the replacement to do so. Product datasheets can be viewed and downloaded from manufacturers’ websites in order to compare dimensions.

Organise Plastering & Painting After Replacements

When replacing large emergency lights, schedule a painter to patch any holes and repaint the areas of your building where lights have been replaced.

Luke Gibbeson

Luke Gibbeson

Luke Gibbeson is a Designer, Marketer and Technophile.