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Maintained vs Non-Maintained Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting is essential for any commercial building in the UK. It provides sufficient illumination if the primary lighting circuits fail to allow everyone to evacuate the building safely.


Various UK legislation applies to emergency lighting, with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 being one of the cornerstones. With practically no exceptions, emergency lighting is a must-have, but there are different types available.


In today’s guide, we’ll discuss the difference between maintained and non-maintained emergency lighting.

What is the difference between maintained and non-maintained emergency lights?

Maintained and non-maintained emergency lighting accomplish the same goal of providing sufficient emergency lighting throughout your commercial premises. However, they take different approaches.


Maintained emergency lighting operates continuously. It functions as part of your conventional lighting setup, providing constant illumination. It’s a dual-purpose solution because it is both standard and emergency lighting. An example of a maintained emergency lighting system could be an illuminated exit sign.


On the other hand, non-maintained emergency lights are dormant. They remain switched off until the primary lighting system goes down. Although other differences exist, this is the primary differentiator between the two lighting systems.

Power usage of maintained and non-maintained emergency lighting

Naturally, there’s also a difference between how much power these two emergency lighting systems require.


Maintained emergency lighting’s dual functionality means these systems are typically installed in high-traffic areas. They consume more energy because they’re never switched off.


In contrast, non-maintained lighting offers the benefit of more efficient energy consumption because they remain inactive most of the time. You’ll only see non-maintained lighting working if there’s a power cut or other emergency situation.

Businesses worried about increased energy costs may favour non-maintained emergency lighting. However, they are best suited to areas of low occupancy or places where specialised, non-standard activities are carried out.

Can you save power by switching to non-maintained emergency lighting?

Energy usage is becoming a massive consideration for UK’s businesses. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey, 81% of businesses are expected to raise prices in the next two years due to energy costs.

Considering the differences between maintained vs. non-maintained emergency lighting, can you switch to the latter to reduce energy costs?


Yes, but even non-maintained lights consume energy. They require a constant trickle charge to keep their backup batteries charged. But your choice of emergency lighting can’t be made on financial grounds at all. Ultimately, these systems are about keeping people safe.


The rule of thumb is that non-maintained lighting is acceptable when the occupants of a building are familiar with their surroundings. For example, offices would likely fall into this category. However, public areas, such as shopping centres, usually have maintained emergency lighting as standard.

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Advantages and disadvantages of maintained emergency lighting

Maintained emergency lighting is always on, making it useful where lighting levels need to be high. Plus, the dual-purpose nature of these lighting systems makes them a popular choice for various locations, including cinemas and public buildings.

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of maintained emergency lighting:

Pros of maintained emergency lighting


  • Continuous Illumination – These lights provide constant illumination, enabling them to function as regular and emergency lighting. This simplifies your lighting infrastructure because you don’t need separate fixtures.
  • Compliance – According to BS 5266-1, some settings require maintained emergency lighting. This is because maintained lighting provides immediate visibility in emergencies, preventing panic.
  • Reliability - Checking that these lights work correctly is easy because they’re always on. Any faults are visible immediately, allowing you to rectify any issues.


Cons of maintained emergency lighting


  • Higher Energy Consumption – Maintained lights are always on, meaning they consume more energy. This will always mean spending more. Plus, extra energy use contributes to a bigger carbon footprint.
  • More Wear and Tear – Constant use increases the likelihood of wear and tear, including broken bulbs and fixtures. It also means a lower lifespan than non-maintained lighting.
  • Installation Costs – Maintained emergency lighting needs fixtures designed for continuous operation. This could extend to more wiring, bigger battery storage facilities and control systems, driving up costs.


Advantages and disadvantages of non-maintained emergency lighting

Non-maintained emergency lighting offers some advantages because it is not continuously operated and is the perfect solution for certain low-traffic areas.


Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of non-maintained emergency lighting.


Pros of non-maintained emergency lighting


  • Better Energy Efficiency - Non-maintained lights should ideally never need to be used. This means the only energy they consume is the trickle charge from the mains to keep their batteries fully charged. If you’re worried about costs and environmental impact, non-maintained is an excellent choice.
  • Longer Lifespan – Non-maintained lights aren’t used regularly, meaning they’ll often outlast their maintained counterparts. This also has the knock-on effect of not requiring regular replacements of bulbs, batteries and fixtures.
  • Simplified Lighting Systems - Installation is often less expensive and complex because these lights aren’t integrated into conventional lighting systems. This can simplify your electrical setup and cut installation costs.


Cons of non-maintained emergency lighting


  • No Continuous Lighting – Unlike maintained lighting, non-maintained lighting serves a singular purpose. In environments where constant lighting is necessary, you’ll need two separate lighting systems to provide sufficient illumination.
  • Potential Delays - These lights may take a few seconds to activate in an emergency, which can cause considerable risk in areas where immediate lighting is required.
  • Battery Dependence - The performance of non-maintained emergency lighting depends entirely on current battery health. Since they aren’t switched on under normal circumstances, they require regular maintenance and testing to detect faults. This means additional costs to carry out a compliant testing regime.

Which type of emergency lighting does your business need?

Knowing the differences between emergency and non-maintained emergency lighting is necessary, but it’s rarely a choice between one or the other. Most businesses use both types of emergency lighting.

For example, a cinema might use maintained emergency lighting in the lobby, whereas they’ll use non-maintained lighting in the actual cinema rooms themselves.

The best way to handle the problem is to consult a professional. At Wells Electrical Contractors, we specialise in supporting the UK’s businesses installing, maintaining and testing their emergency lighting systems. As a NICEIC-approved contractor, our qualified electrical engineers are the partners you need to ensure full compliance with UK legislation.

To learn more about how we can help you with your emergency lighting needs, contact the team now.

Why Should you Upgrade to LED Lighting?

Reducing carbon emissions is a top priority for businesses, as green issues loom prominently in customers' minds. The Light-Emitting Diode (LED) is today's gold lighting technology standard.

Plus, it’s one of the most rapidly developing lighting technologies. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), LED efficacy has increased by four lumens/watt annually since 2010. Installing best-in-class LEDs ensures your lights are more durable, have a longer lifespan, and offer better light quality.

However, LED upgrades can be expensive, especially if using top-tier LED technologies. In this guide, we’ll discuss the benefits of upgrading to LED lighting and what you must prepare for.

How does commercial LED lighting work?

Commercial and residential LED lighting are different. On average, residential LEDs pump out 100 lumens per watt, whereas the best commercial LED lighting solutions offer more than double this.


The UK is a world leader in LED lighting, with the country proposing to increase the minimum energy performance for this lighting to the highest globally. It shows our commitment to equipping our economy with the best possible lighting solutions.


LED lights produce light without as much heat as their incandescent and halogen ancestors. Electrical currents pass through an internal microchip, illuminating the light sources called LEDs inside. The photons within produce light without heat, which is also why LEDs take longer to get hot.


On average, 90% of the energy used is converted to visible light, whereas 90% of energy in incandescent bulbs is converted to heat.

What is involved in upgrading to LED lighting?

Adopting this sustainable lighting solution in your business isn’t as complex as you think. You can often perform a like-for-like swap with your existing bulbs with no real alterations.


However, some fixtures and wiring may need to be retrofitted and replaced. These upgrades will require professional servicing from a company like Wells Electrical Contractors. Some of the considerations involved will include:


  • Brightness
  • Base type
  • Bulb type
  • Colour temperature
  • Angle
  • Installation position


Understand that maximising the benefits of an LED upgrade depends entirely on the quality of the LED and how it’s installed. Choosing high-quality lights and working with experienced professionals are investments that will pay dividends.

Do businesses need an EICR before upgrading to LED lighting?

Obtaining an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) every five years is a must to test the integrity and capacity of your current electrical infrastructure.


As a rule, it’s wise to do it before performing any major electrical upgrade to guarantee no faults in your electrical installation. In short, it’s neither safe nor wise to perform an LED lighting upgrade without obtaining a recent report before upgrading.

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How long does an LED lighting upgrade take?

Like-for-like swaps may take up to a few hours to complete. Likewise, extensive retrofits may take a few days.

The time depends on your facility's size and any difficulties in accessing each lighting fixture. It’s always best to contact a professional for a rough estimate of how long your upgrade could take.

What are the benefits of upgrading to LED lighting for businesses?

LED lighting raises the bar for lighting solutions. Ending reliance on traditional bulbs brings enormous benefits to your business in terms of cost and sustainability. Plus, LEDs are the way forward, with these bulbs expected to make up 85% of all bulbs sold by 2030 in the UK.


So, what benefits can upgrading to LED lighting bring to UK businesses?


Reduce your energy use


It’s no secret energy costs have been biting businesses, with even small businesses spending thousands more on energy than before.


Switching to LEDs is one of the most effective ways to save energy. Standard bulbs may spend 50 W of energy, while LEDs can produce the same amount of visible light with 5 W. Whatever your business spends on lighting costs now could drop by up to 90%.


Longer bulb life


Stop wasting your time replacing bulbs every couple of months. LED bulbs last 25 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. This changes the average life expectancy of bulbs from three months to as long as ten years.


Here’s a lifespan comparison:

  • Incandescent Bulbs – 1000 hours
  • Halogen Bulbs – 2000 hours
  • CFL Bulbs – 6000 hours
  • LED Bulbs – 50,000 hours


Produce less heat


Busy commercial premises can get hot, especially in the summer months. Traditional lights increase the temperature because they work by heating either a metal filament or a gas-filled chamber. Older bulbs don’t produce light as their primary product. Visible light is the by-product, hence why they’re so inefficient.


Hot bulbs are a burn risk and can spontaneously burst into flames if they exceed their expected temperatures. Contrast this to LED bulbs, which produce little to no heat. It’s why LEDs are cool to the touch.


The sustainable choice


LED bulbs are a sustainable choice because they’re much more efficient and are manufactured using non-harmful substances.


For example, fluorescent lights contain coils filled with toxic mercury. LED lights use no such thing, making them an excellent choice for the environment.




LED lights are cheaper on every front, including:

  1. Purchase cost
  2. Annual running cost


In the past, LEDs were more efficient and expensive to purchase. This is no longer the case, making them the clear winner if your business wants to save costs.




Most guides talk about LED lights in terms of their cost and sustainability benefits, but they also offer other perks that make them the most versatile lighting solution available.


Here’s a roundup of what separates LED bulbs from traditional bulbs:


Directed Light - LED lights can emit light in a targeted way. They can be used as lamps, ceiling downlights, emergency lighting and more. Traditional bulbs require the extra cost of reflectors and diffusers.

Instant Illumination – LEDs operate at 100% brightness when switched on. This is extremely useful if you use the lights for security or health and safety purposes.

Dimming Capacity - Due to the hardware used to make LED technology a reality, LEDs may be dimmed to any percentage of their power ratings.

Colour Choices – LED bulbs are available in an incredible range of colour options, including warm yellows and cool whites, suitable for settings like warehouses. You can also easily find LED bulbs in non-conventional colours, including red, blue and green, which is handy if you’re trying to set a certain mood in a retail or hospitality environment.


LED installations can be moulded to whatever you want to accomplish. It’s why they’re quickly becoming the leading choice for every business scenario in the UK.

LED lighting upgrades with Wells Electrical Contractors


Upgrading to LED lighting has no real drawbacks other than the initial cost of the upgrade itself. The UK government has even released grants for small and medium-sized commercial businesses to switch to these lighting solutions.


At Wells Electrical Contractors, we possess more than 65 years of experience in providing electrical services to UK businesses. If you’re in need of NICEIC-approved and CHAS-affiliated contractors you can trust, get in touch to discuss your LED lighting upgrade today.

How Often should Emergency Lighting be Tested?

Protecting your staff and customers should be at the forefront of your mind. Naturally, the UK has stringent rules regarding emergency lighting—and particularly testing. If you fail to comply, your company could be fined thousands of pounds.


At Wells Electrical Contractors, our NICEIC-approved contractors have provided testing services to thousands of businesses nationwide to enable them to stay in compliance. But aside from compliance with the law, standby lighting saves lives.

So, how can you ensure you’re testing your emergency lighting correctly?

How often should emergency lights be checked?

Before discussing formal testing, basic visual checks performed daily are a good habit to get into. Any designated person can do this basic walk-through, which consists of checking to make sure lights aren’t too dirty or obscured.


However, if your emergency lighting system uses a central battery, you must check the indicator light daily. Most modern emergency lighting systems use separate batteries for each light, meaning you’re not required to perform these daily checks. Even so, it’s still recommended that you do a visual check daily for peace of mind.

How often do emergency lights need to be tested?

Let’s start with the basic legislation detailing emergency lighting installation and testing. In the UK, standby lighting is required to comply with BS 5266-1, stating every qualifying building must have adequate illumination to aid in escape and identifying firefighting equipment.


In practice, this legal requirement covers practically every commercial and industrial setting with few exceptions, including:

  • Offices
  • Shopping centres
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Entertainment venues
  • Pubs
  • Nightclubs
  • Factories

How often you must test your emergency lighting varies based on the system. For example, different testing frequencies apply to non-maintained and maintained emergency lighting. Generally, this can get confusing, so the rule of thumb is that lighting should be tested monthly and annually.

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Monthly emergency lighting tests

Monthly emergency lighting tests are called “flick tests” and are short functional tests. They simulate the failure of the mains power supply. Passing this test means each lamp should switch on and provide sufficient illumination.

Businesses can carry out these tests using a fish key. The fish key, also known as a secure device key, can temporarily turn off the main power supply without putting occupants at risk. Each test should be recorded, and any faults should be recorded and addressed.

Although it’s not a legal requirement to outsource monthly testing to a professional, it’s recommended that firms do this anyway. Outsourcing saves time and headaches, and professionals can quickly spot when you’re in non-compliance.

For example, luminaries must be clean to pass the test and provide sufficient illumination. Can you spot the difference between sufficient and insufficient illumination? Most non-experts can’t, meaning your company could inadvertently fail a surprise audit.

Is monthly emergency lighting testing a legal requirement?

Flick tests must be carried out by law. There’s no getting around this fact. Unlike the daily test, this basic functional test is required to remain in compliance. Furthermore, businesses must record these tests within a special logbook, including any faults that were detected.


Plus, if any faults are found, businesses are required to take remedial action as soon as possible. Likewise, an auditor will look for evidence that remedial action was taken.

Annual emergency lighting tests


The annual or “full-duration test” is also a legal requirement of emergency lighting and consists of more in-depth testing than flick tests. Unlike monthly tests, a qualified professional, such as Wells Electrical Contractors, must carry out these.


Full-duration tests last for three hours and involve cutting the primary lighting circuits. Each emergency light must remain switched on and provide sufficient illumination for the entire period to pass.


In many cases, these tests are done alongside fire alarm servicing, which can be done at the same time as the emergency lighting test.

What time of day is best to perform an emergency lighting test?

Many business owners struggle with scheduling a suitable time for an emergency lighting test. They want to minimise the disruption to their business while remaining compliant.

No law states that you must carry out the test at a certain time of year or a specific time of day. It’s entirely up to you to find a convenient time. Let’s discuss the issues involved in emergency lighting testing during the day or night.


Day testing vs. night testing


Daytime testing is often the most convenient from a testing perspective because you can monitor the process, and it’s often easier to find a technician who can carry out the test. Plus, it’s safer for everybody inside because even if there’s an issue with a light, your employees can still see where they’re going.


Why some business owners avoid daytime testing include:


· Disruption: Cutting the primary power supply can prevent you from conducting your usual business operations. In the context of a larger business, this could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds lost.

· Testing Difficulties: Testing can be challenging during the day, especially during the summer. If bright lights are shining through the windows, it can be tough to see if a light is preventing sufficient illumination.


On the other hand, testing at night is more hazardous because if the lighting system isn’t working, everyone could be plunged into darkness. Businesses must take extra health and safety precautions if testing at night, even though it’s often the least disruptive option.


Generally, it’s best to get the best of both worlds. Scheduling your test at the end of the working day minimises disruption while allowing some natural light to avert potential health and safety violations.


But what if your business operates 24/7, and there’s no convenient time to initiate the test?


In this case, there’s no getting around disruption. We recommend analysing your activity patterns to find the least problematic time for your annual emergency lighting test. At Wells Electrical Contractors, we can operate 24/7, enabling us to work around your schedule while providing the in-depth testing required by law.


To learn more about hiring our experienced technicians for your emergency lighting tests, contact us now. Our in-depth guide to emergency lighting also tells you everything else you’d need to know to stay compliant.

Do Commercial Lighting Circuits Need RCD Protection?

Ensuring your building’s commercial lighting circuits meet the required standard is part of your obligation to protect customers, employees and other visitors. Part of this obligation is the installation of the Residual Current Device (RCD).


In many cases, business owners don’t know whether these safety devices are required to protect against electric shocks and fires due to earth faults. For this, we look to the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations.


Let’s discuss everything you must know about RCD protection on lighting circuits.

RCD protection on lighting circuits: Explained

RCDs are safety switches designed to protect people from electrical shocks. Since electrocution can be deadly, especially when dealing with high-powered commercial circuits, RCDs are a common feature of practically every lighting solution. At Wells Electrical Contractors, we install them as standard.

Like any safety device, RCDs are effective but not 100% foolproof. It’s not uncommon for building owners to install but fail to check them regularly, leading to failed electrical safety audits. This is why the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) receives around 1,000 reports of burns and shocks annually.

Sadly, around 30 of them are fatal.

It underpins the importance of installing RCDs and instituting regular checks to ensure they’re still functioning.

Which circuits need RCD protection?

RCDs detect leaks that could cause electric shock. Conventional electrical currents are intended to travel via select conduits. When there’s a leak, electrical power can leave these conduits, creating a shock hazard for unsuspecting people.

An RCD detects these leaks and automatically disconnects the power source to reduce the risk of a shock. They’re not 100% effective against shocks, but even when shocks do happen, RCDs reduce the intensity, which could save somebody’s life.


But does this also apply to commercial lighting circuits?


The answer is yes. They won’t stop a blown circuit, but if your lighting is regularly shutting down, it indicates a problem with your circuitry. However, RCDs will prevent intense electric shocks.

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Is RCD protection legally required for commercial lighting?

All commercial lighting circuits supplying lighting fixtures are required to have RCD protection in place. Moreover, RCDs can only be installed by a fully qualified contractor within a commercial environment.

Although some people may install them using their DIY skills at home, this isn’t allowed in a commercial setting. This is why our clients turn to Wells Electrical Contractors - we’re a NICEIC-approved contractor with a full set of qualifications for each of our trained electrical engineers.

Wiring regulations for commercial property owners

RCD protection is often a confusing subject generally for businesses. We often refer to the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations, or BS 7671, because this is the Bible for using RCDs in the commercial world.

While socket outlets rated up to 32A in places like kitchens and bathrooms always need RCD protection, lighting circuits are an outlier because there are no exceptions. You always need RCD protection for any lighting circuits indoors and outdoors.


But what if you read that these regulations aren’t legally binding?

This is true. None of these regulations are by themselves legally binding and cannot be enforced by law. On the other hand, compliance with them is required to comply with rules that are legally binding.

For example, BS 7671 compliance is needed in England and Wales to meet Part P of the Building Regulations. Likewise, the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 refers directly to BS 7671.

In other words, you can’t be taken to court due to non-compliance with BS 7671, but non-compliance with that means you’re failing compliance with other legally binding legislation.

On a side note, it’s important to mention that BS 7671 is also used by other parties, including safety assessors and insurers. For example, if there’s a fire or severe electric shock on your premises, your insurance will likely be null and void if it was found you didn’t have RCDs installed on your lighting circuits.

Wiring regulations for commercial property owners


Commercial property owners need to bear two things in mind:


1. All lighting circuits must have RCDs installed.

2. All RCDs must be installed by a qualified electrician.

But an RCD isn’t a bog-standard product you can install once and then forget about. Your legal requirements extend beyond the installation stage. Let’s discuss the three points you must know.


Choosing the right RCD


RCDs are not a one-size-fits-all product. Compliance means choosing the appropriate RCD for the appropriate circuit, which differs between businesses, whether hotels, shopping centres, or factories.


Some examples of factors to consider include:


  • Location

  • System type

  • Load type


Maintenance and Inspection


The biggest mistake businesses make is not inspecting or regularly testing their RCDs once installed. These processes are essential for ensuring they operate safely and efficiently for years to come.


Again, the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations have specific sections outlining precisely what must be done to maintain RCDs.




Like other aspects of your electrical infrastructure, RCDs must undergo regular testing to confirm that they are fit for purpose.

It’s recommended that RCDs are tested at least every three months as standard. Furthermore, additional tests are recommended after making any changes or repairs to your electrical system. Again, this is something only a qualified electrician is permitted to do.


RCDs protect commercial lighting circuits, but you must have the right RCDs installed, maintained and tested by a professional. Regardless of your electrical knowledge, handling any aspect yourself means automatic non-compliance and all the consequences that come with that.


Partner with an electrical company you can trust, like Wells Electrical Contractors. We support the UK’s businesses in ensuring their electrical circuits perform at their best while being safe to use. To learn more about our commercial electrical services, contact our team today.

Emergency Lighting Inspection Checklist

Emergency lighting is essential for protecting your staff and customers. If your primary lighting systems are cut off for any reason, emergency lighting helps guide everybody outside safely.


You are legally required to conduct regular emergency lighting inspections. Wells Electrical Contractors are NICEIC-approved contractors that support businesses in installing, maintaining and testing their emergency lighting systems.


If you’re wondering how emergency lighting inspections work, here’s a comprehensive checklist.

What are the legal requirements for emergency lighting inspections?

With few exceptions, emergency lighting is required in all commercial and industrial buildings in the UK. Furthermore, any business with emergency lighting must comply with the relevant British standard.


In the UK, BS 5266-1 governs the “full duration” test requirements, which must be carried out annually by an authorised professional and last for at least three hours. Monthly tests, known as “flick tests”, are also required for all businesses. In both cases, tests simulate the failure of the mains power supply to check that emergency lighting lamps illuminate correctly.


Each lamp must not only work but must also provide a minimum amount of illumination. The test results must be recorded within an internal logbook for auditing purposes. Finally, if any issues are detected, appropriate remedial action must be taken.


Failure to comply with these legal lighting requirements could lead to significant fines from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Do you need a certificate for emergency lighting compliance?

The Certificate of Emergency Lighting Test and Report is required to prove compliance with the law. These certificates may only be filled out by an approved contractor, such as Wells Electrical Contractors. After completing your annual test, you will receive one in physical or digital format.


Although monthly inspections are required, these may be carried out by a “competent person” within your organisation. Monthly inspection reports require no certificate but must be recorded within a logbook.


Without an annual Certificate of Emergency Lighting Test and Report, there is no proof of compliance with emergency lighting regulations.

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Emergency lighting inspection checklist for monthly testing

Monthly flick tests are quick functional tests each business must conduct every 30 days. These tests take only 30 seconds but require the primary power source to be switched off. Our dedicated guide on how to test emergency lights goes into more detail, but here is our handy checklist.

Monthly emergency lighting test checklist


  • Inform everyone beforehand that the primary power source will be temporarily switched off.

  • Use your fish key, if available, or your fuse box to switch off the main power supply.

  • Inspect each lamp individually for functionality and brightness.

  • Record your findings on an emergency lighting test switch.

  • Switch the power on again.

  • Report the results of the test in your fire safety logbook.

  • Act upon any issues with your emergency lighting.


Businesses can outsource monthly testing to a company like Wells Electrical to reduce disruption and ensure each test fully complies with the law. Alternatively, our team can train a designated person within your organisation to conduct and record these tests.

Who can carry out the monthly emergency light test?

Monthly emergency light tests don’t require a professional. The law states that a designated responsible party can carry out the test. However, they should be trained in how to do it and report the results of each test properly.


Unfortunately, non-NICEIC-approved contractors may lack the expertise to identify issues that are placing your business into non-compliance. We recommend outsourcing monthly testing to an experienced contractor to guarantee compliance and reduce disruption to day-to-day operations.


Either way, you must ensure a professional shows your designated person the ropes.

Annual emergency lighting inspection checklist

Annual tests are full-duration tests and take considerably longer than monthly flick tests. Enlisting an electrical contractor like Wells Electrical Contractors is pivotal to demonstrating legal compliance through these tests.


After your annual test, you’ll receive a certificate of completion to prove your compliance, including a report of any remedial actions.

Annual emergency lighting test checklist


  • Enlist a Qualified Person – BS-5266 standards legally require you to have a qualified emergency lighting engineer to conduct this test. Working with a qualified partner also ensures that your test is automatically arranged at the appropriate time.

  • Cut the Power – The primary lighting circuits will be cut. This simulates a power cut and examines whether your emergency lights can run on battery power.

  • Check for Duration – Passing this test requires each emergency light to run for a minimum period. Typically, this will be a three-hour test, and your emergency lights must operate for the complete duration to pass.

  • Illumination Test – Each light must be thoroughly inspected for illumination levels. If an emergency light flickers, is dirty or doesn’t provide sufficient lumens, the light will fail the test and remedial action must be taken.

  • Restore Power – Following the three-hour testing period, restore power. Your emergency lights should automatically switch off. Your contractor will then check each light fitting to ensure the battery is recharging, as indicated by a light on the fitting itself.

  • Record the Results—Your emergency lighting engineer will record the test results and issue a certificate proving that a qualified party performed the test.

  • Address Any Issues – If any lights fail the test, you must take action. This could include repairing fittings, replacing bulbs, or replacing the light entirely. Your contractor will outline what actions must be taken.


Full-duration tests put your emergency lights through their paces and guarantee compliance with the law. Note that you must act immediately if any issues arise during annual testing.

Who can carry out the annual emergency light test?

Only a NICEIC-approved contractor can conduct annual emergency light tests and issue an annual certificate of compliance.


At Wells Electrical, we’re approved and authorised to conduct full-rating tests. Over 15 years, we have conducted thousands of tests for businesses nationwide. Although you must go through an approved party for annual tests, we recommend doing the same for your monthly tests. Here are some of the reasons why:


Proactive Maintenance - Maintenance companies do far more than change lightbulbs. They can anticipate and resolve minor issues before they become significant problems, saving you money and stress in the long run.

Guarantee Safety - Emergency lighting testing isn’t a box-ticking exercise. It’s designed to protect you and your employees.

Protect Testing Integrity - Designating an employee to conduct testing may save money, but it doesn’t guarantee thorough testing. Only an experienced contractor can spot the little things that could compromise the effectiveness of your emergency lighting.

Reduce Business Disruption - Partnering with a brand like Wells Electrical Contractors ensures that you, your staff and your company can focus on the important things, like driving your business forward. Moving staff around to comply with emergency lighting testing is disruptive and reduces productivity. Tackle Problems Fast - Noticing problems is one thing, but solving them is quite another. Experienced professionals don’t just identify problems; they address them. Working with us guarantees immediate action if your emergency lights experience problems.


As you can see, you must hire a professional to conduct annual emergency lighting tests, but using the same provider for your monthly tests is also beneficial. Wells Electrical is the number one team if you need an experienced, approachable team of full-service electrical contractors.


To learn more about our emergency lighting testing services or to obtain a bespoke, no-obligation quote, contact us today.

Is it a Legal Requirement to Test Emergency Lighting?

Emergency lighting is critical to protecting everyone in your workplace at any given time. These lights operate independently from the mains power circuit, enabling everybody to exit the premises in a safe and orderly manner.

Although most businesses see the value of installing an emergency lighting system, many are unaware of their legal obligations. Typically, emergency lighting isn’t just legally mandated, but the law also requires regular testing to ensure they remain in good working order.

This guide discusses your legal obligations and the best way to ensure continued compliance.

What does emergency lighting testing include?

Emergency lighting testing is a comprehensive inspection of your entire setup. How the test is conducted depends on whether you need a monthly or annual test.

You should always call a professional to ensure that your emergency lighting is of the required standard, as current UK regulations dictate. 

As part of your test, a technician will ensure that:

  • Each light is fully illuminated

  • That your lights are charging

  • That the illumination is sufficient


Furthermore, our engineers can provide tailored advice on improving your emergency lighting system and any urgent action that may need to be taken. As a start, our full guide on emergency lighting may help you.

Is emergency lighting testing a legal requirement?

Current UK regulations state that all emergency lighting must be switched on and off at least once a month to ensure they remain operational. You don’t need to call in a professional for this, but it’s strongly recommended to guarantee your compliance.

However, a competent person must carry out the annual three-hour test. In other words, you will need a qualified professional to conduct this test.

Various laws apply to emergency lighting testing, including:


·  The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

·  Building Regulations 2000

·  Workplace Directive 89/654

·  The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999


Businesses must take their obligations seriously because the penalties can be substantial, even for a first-time breach.

For example, an Abingdon hotel owner was recently fined £20,000 and £3,000 in costs because an inspection revealed that their emergency lighting systems were not working, among other serious fire safety issues.

In short, regular testing is a small price to pay to avoid costly breaches.

Which businesses have a legal requirement to test emergency lighting?

Any business that requires emergency lighting by law must comply with the same testing requirements unless stated otherwise due to the type of lighting.

In the UK, businesses follow the umbrella standard BS 5266-1, the code of practice dictating the installation and maintenance of emergency lighting.

Firstly, all commercial and industrial premises will require emergency lighting testing. Public buildings are also included, such as hospitals, schools, care homes and government buildings. This also extends to some private properties, such as multi-story buildings. 

  • Note that many construction sites may require temporary emergency lighting too.

What emergency lighting standards do businesses need to adhere to?

BS-5266 is intentionally designed to be general to cover as much ground as possible. The two main guidelines that require businesses to act are:


1. “Every workplace must have suitable and sufficient emergency lighting.”

2. “Emergency lighting should be provided and maintained in any room where employees are at risk if the regular lights should fail.”


In practice, this means that your emergency lighting system must provide sufficient lighting, which your technician can advise you on, and the emergency lighting system must cover all the correct areas and be functional at all times.

The results will be included in your fire risk assessment as part of your annual testing requirement, which the Fire and Rescue Service will then evaluate.

How often should an emergency lighting system legally be tested?

Testing frequency can vary depending on the lighting system you have in place. While this may sound confusing, the best way to manage emergency lighting system testing is to use the three-phase model.

The three-phase model works like so:


Daily Testing – Check for basic functionality. A simple visual check of all lights to ensure they are illuminated. A designated person can carry this out.

Monthly Testing – Monthly tests are short functional tests using your fish key. Just switch the main power off and examine the lights. Check the casings for any dirt or signs of damage. Once you restore the main power, your lights should automatically begin recharging. The results should be noted in a logbook. While this can be done in-house, calling in a professional is best.

Annual Testing – All premises with emergency lighting systems must schedule an annual test with a qualified professional. These tests last three to four hours and simulate the mains power being cut. To pass the test, your emergency lighting must provide sufficient illumination for the entire duration.


Some businesses may also conduct comprehensive testing every six months for liability purposes. This is smart because it displays your commitment to health and safety and lets you stay on top of preventative maintenance.

Regarding monthly and annual tests, deciding when to conduct these tests can be challenging for many businesses. We recommend considering the following factors:


Risk – Testing your emergency systems means depleting the batteries. Aim to test your lights at a relatively low-risk time, such as outside regular work hours.

Effectiveness – Ensure that the test can deliver reliable results. For example, testing in the middle of the day can make gauging your lighting’s illumination tough.

Convenience – Think about the day-to-day disruption to usual operations. This is why many hire a service to conduct these tests at night.

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How can Wells Electrical help businesses with emergency lighting tests?

Wells Electrical has over 65 years of experience testing emergency lighting nationwide. Whether you’re a school, hospital or retail space, our experienced technicians can conduct rigorous testing in full compliance with the latest UK regulations at any hour of the day or night.

Our NICEIC-approved contractors can design and install emergency lighting systems from scratch while helping you stay on top of maintenance and cut costs.

For the best in testing, get in touch with Wells Electrical today.

How to Test your Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting is essential to protecting workers should the mains electricity fail due to power cuts and fires. Whether you manage a school, hospital, shopping centre, office building or other commercial or industrial setting, functional emergency lighting is legally mandated.

This type of lighting is governed by BS 5266-2016, and part of meeting its requirements is regular testing. Understanding these rules can be tricky, which is why so many businesses rely on nationwide emergency lighting testing from Wells Electrical.

 Currently, facility managers and business owners must contend with four types of legislation/directives:


·  The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

·  Building Regulations 2000

·  Workplace Directive 89/654

·  The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999


Let’s discuss what you need to know about emergency lighting testing compliance and how to do it.

Who should carry out an emergency lighting test?

All businesses must designate a person responsible for emergency lighting testing. It’s their job to carry out daily and monthly testing. They are required to note down the results of each test in a logbook that can be inspected if necessary.

Although the designated person can conduct monthly testing, it’s strongly recommended that this is outsourced to a professional. This ensures that your building is 100% safe and your system is always fully compliant.

Regardless of your decision, only a qualified professional can carry out the annual three-hour test required by law. At Wells Electrical, our NICEIC-approved contractors are experts in providing these testing services to businesses nationwide.

 Using a professional is strongly recommended for both monthly and annual tests due to their expertise and the fact they can provide a certificate showing your emergency lighting system is fully up to code and that you’ve fulfilled your legal obligations.

How to test emergency lighting

Conducting an emergency lighting test depends on the type of test. Professional advice recommends the three-phase testing model unless advised otherwise.

Daily Tests – Ensure that the central battery (if relevant) is functioning. Check the relative indicator light to see if everything is fine. You should also perform visual checks of each light to look for damage.

Monthly Tests – Isolate the mains power supply to simulate a power cut. Once switched off, check the lights for any signs of damage or insufficient illumination.

Annual Tests – The three-hour emergency lighting test examines every aspect of your lights, including function and lux level. To pass the test, each light must work for the entire three-hour duration.


For most businesses, the monthly test is the one that will require the most effort. As always, it’s still best to outsource this test to a professional to guarantee compliance and mitigate liability.

Here’s how to do it.


Step one – Start the test

The first step is finding your emergency lighting key. This device key is usually fish-shaped. You should already know where the relevant outlet is.

Turning the key will switch off the power to the main lights and force the emergency lighting to come on.


Step two – Set a timer

Depending on your test, you should set a timer, such as ten minutes or one hour.

Some emergency lighting systems enable you to turn the key to the appropriate testing duration, meaning you can skip this step.


Step three – Inspect the lights

Walk around the building and check that every light has been switched on. You should also ensure they are fully illuminated without dimming or flickering.

Judging illumination can be complex, so it’s worth speaking to a technician from Wells Electrical if you’re unsure.


Step four – Check the charge

At the end of the testing duration, switch off the emergency lights with your device key, and power should return to your primary lighting system.

Walk around again and inspect each light to ensure they are charging. On most lighting systems, this is indicated by a small, green LED light.


Step five – Record and take action

The results of the test should be noted in your logbook. If there are any problems, note it down.

Call Wells Electrical to rectify any malfunctioning lights or request compliance clarification if there's any action to be taken.

Emergency lighting test with no test key

Not every emergency lighting system comes with a test key. You must find the electrical consumer unit if your building doesn’t have one.

Once you’ve identified the consumer unit, switch off the power to the main electricity supply to switch on the emergency lights. In some cases, there could be more than one circuit.

Beware that touching anything inside a consumer unit raises the risk of electrocution. If in doubt, call upon a qualified electrician.

How do I know if my emergency light is working after a test?

Determining whether your emergency lights are working after a test is simple enough. Look out for the following signs that your emergency lighting needs servicing:


·  Dimmed lights.

·  Flickering lights.

·  Lights that won’t switch on.

·  Lights that burn out quickly.

·  Absence of the green LED charge light.


The difficulty most businesses have is judging the lux level or brightness. Most of the time, this might be obvious, but even a minor decrease in lux level could see you in non-compliance yet be barely visible to the untrained eye.

Again, this is why it’s essential to call upon a professional to conduct your emergency lighting tests. You can read our complete guide to emergency lighting to get started firstly.

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What to do if an emergency light is not operating correctly after a test

According to the law, emergency lights must be functional 24/7, 365 days a year. So, what happens if one of your lights isn’t working?

The first step is to record it in your logbook. You should include your observations inside the logbook, such as a dimmed bulb or unresponsive light. At this stage, you can also check the light in question.

The biggest issue is all too often the battery. If the green charge LED isn’t illuminated, it’s a sign that something is wrong with your battery. Standard acid-based batteries used in conventional emergency lighting systems have a lifespan of three to four years, whereas lithium batteries can last up to 12 years.


Alternatively, there may be an issue with the connections. This happens when there’s no light whatsoever. Connection problems could indicate damage, such as water ingress. Either way, these are complex checks that often require specialist equipment.

The best action is to call a professional to address the problem, or you may risk voiding your warranty. Call Wells Electrical, the company with over 65 years of experience designing, installing, testing and maintaining electrical and emergency lighting systems.

To learn more about what our NICEIC-approved contractors can do for you, contact the team today.

A Complete Guide to Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting is critical to keeping your staff, customers and third-party personnel safe on your business premises. If the worst should happen, your emergency lighting will provide illumination to enable people to exit your facility safely.

At Wells Electrical, we have served numerous brands nationwide for over 15 years in designing, installing, maintaining and testing emergency lighting, including Bluecoat in Liverpool, SB Interior Ltd in Crewe, and Dennison Trailers in the Northwest.

We understand that, as a business owner, it can be challenging to understand the ins and outs of emergency lighting. This is why we’re committed to educating our clients on this complex topic.

Types of emergency lighting

Various types of emergency lighting exist, each deployed in specific environments. These can be boiled down into three distinct categories:


Escape Route Lighting – These emergency lights are designed to aid the swift evacuation of a building by providing illumination for common escape routes, such as stairways. They are also positioned in areas where safety equipment, such as key boxes, is housed.

Open Area/Anti-Panic Area Lighting – Large public buildings, such as shopping centres and retail outlets, attract a large number of visitors who may be unfamiliar with their layout. These types of emergency lighting are designed to help everyone locate exit routes without causing panic.

High-Risk Task Lighting – This specific type of emergency lighting is typically only deployed in limited scenarios. It’s designed to support the safety of people navigating dangerous processes, such as emergency shutdown procedures.


Within these three categories, you’ll also come across various other types of emergency lights, such as LED emergency lighting and external bulkhead emergency fittings. In any case, emergency lighting can be maintained or non-maintained.

Maintained fittings are activated using a controller, such as a switch. In some cases, they may be left on permanently, but they can operate even during a power cut. Non-maintained fittings only activate if a business’s conventional lighting systems fail.

Which is right for your business depends on your circumstances, so we always recommend that businesses order a Fire Risk Assessment before designing an emergency lighting system.

Is emergency lighting testing a legal requirement?

Emergency lighting testing in the UK is a legal requirement on all business premises, as detailed by Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, known as the RRO.

Testing must be conducted monthly and annually, with the latter requiring more comprehensive, in-depth tests. To stay within the bounds of the law, all annual tests must be carried out by a qualified team, such as that at Wells Electrical.

What are the requirements for testing emergency lighting in the UK?

The UK has stringent regulations regarding emergency lighting testing. Firstly, all UK commercial premises must possess some form of emergency lighting by law, which forms part of overarching fire safety legislation.

Testing is also a legal requirement to ensure that the operational effectiveness of your emergency lighting remains up to standard.

Firstly, annual testing is a requirement. This must be conducted using a competent party. At Wells Electrical, our contractors can conduct this test and record our findings. Moreover, we can provide a testing certificate to prove your compliance in the event of an audit.

Emergency lighting must also be tested monthly using a “flick test.” Flick testing is a short functional test that simulates the failure of the mains electricity. Proper monthly testing checks that your lights illuminate and produce sufficient amounts of light.

How often should emergency lighting be tested?

Legally, you must perform flick tests monthly and an in-depth examination once per year. However, many businesses go above and beyond by investing in multiple rounds of checks and preventative maintenance annually.

Extra testing offers several benefits, including:


  • Providing more time to rectify functional issues.

  • Peace of mind that your lighting will work in an emergency.

  • Saving money by solving small problems before they become big ones.


In essence, there’s no harm in investing in additional testing to check that your emergency lighting system is in tip-top condition.

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How to test emergency lighting

Monthly testing of emergency lighting in-house is a regimen many businesses choose to adopt. At Wells Electrical, we can show your employees how to do this in a way that’s comprehensive and compliant.

You have two options for testing emergency lights:


Firstly, you can use the provided test key. Insert it into the key switch and click it into test mode. This simulates a power cut. If your emergency lights in the area turn themselves on and provide enough illumination, your emergency lighting is still in good working order.

Turn the key back to normal mode and record the results within your business’s fire logbook.


The second option for testing your emergency lights is to turn off the main lighting at the control board. Figure out which circuit is connected to your lighting and switch it off. Again, it has the same effect as the key switch method. If your emergency lighting responds, your lights are good to go.

Regarding annual testing, this isn’t something that your team can carry out. Annual tests are far more detailed and require a professional to manage.

Who should carry out an emergency lighting test?

Annual tests must be carried out by a competent professional. At Wells Electrical, we provide this annual service, examining your emergency lighting from every angle over the mandated three-hour period.

Professional testing with Wells Electrical includes:


  • Assessing the condition of your lights.

  • Charging and/or replacing batteries.

  • Recording relevant details.

  • Highlighting and fixing any issues.

  • Emergency lighting certificates to prove compliance.


Under the regulations, a qualified professional must carry out these tests; but, if your employees have been sufficiently trained (which we can provide), you can manage monthly testing in-house.

How often should an emergency lighting system be tested?

The law should dictate your testing schedule, but some products may require a different testing schedule. If this is the case, our team can brief you on the ideal testing schedule for you.

According to leading fire safety experts in the UK, businesses should adopt the three-frequency testing schedule for emergency lighting.


Daily – If your emergency lighting system is powered with a central battery, you must perform a daily check to ensure the battery continues functioning. This test entails nothing more than examining the relevant indicator light.

Monthly – Every month you should isolate the mains power supply to simulate a power cut, as defined above. Call us immediately if any lights fail to come on or are too dim during the test.

Annual – Your annual test is legally mandated and must be conducted over three hours. To pass this test, your lights must stay on for three hours while maintaining the minimum brightness level.

Plan in your Emergency Lighting Test

When is the best time to test emergency lighting?

Business owners often question when they should test their emergency lighting to simulate an emergency properly and to minimise disruption to the building and its occupants.

Generally, you should consider your building’s usage patterns, its operational needs and the various implications of testing at certain times.

Daytime testing typically offers better inspection visibility, but the impact on your day-to-day activities is more significant. On the other hand, night-time testing may require additional precautions to preserve the safety and security of your facility.

Get in touch with us if you need help determining a suitable testing time for your business.

Should you test all emergency lights at once?

It depends - if your emergency lights are all on the same circuit, you will have no choice but to test everything at once.

Larger facilities, especially complexes with multiple buildings, may have distinct emergency lighting circuits. In this case, it may make more sense to test your emergency lighting systems consecutively to limit disruption.

Our team can advise you on the best way to conduct testing on your premises. To learn more about emergency lighting testing, send us a message or call today.

Contact us

With a combined 65 years’ experience working nationwide, Wells Electrical Contractors are experts in electrical installation, maintenance and energy saving from conception to hand over in each project. Our engineers deliver the best electrical solutions to businesses in the UK and Ireland.

We understand that no two customers’ electrical needs are the same, and when it comes to making important decisions on upgrades, emergency repairs or installations, the more information you have the better. That’s why we offer a comprehensive range of solutions, as well as the knowledge to help customers make the right decisions.

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If you would like to know more about us or would like to discuss your free site survey and quotation, please contact us today.