What Are Emergency and Exit Lights?

Chances are that you have seen a mounted device above the doorway of your favorite restaurant. That bulky device isn’t there for show, it's actually a form of emergency lighting. But what is its actual purpose?

Emergency lighting limits potential injury if people need to evacuate a building. In the case of a fire or storm, these lights help people find the exits and keep confusion and panic at a minimum. If evacuating the building isn’t possible, emergency lights illuminate paths to shelter areas inside the building. 

What types of emergency and exit lights are available?

Not all emergency and exit lights are the same. Though they all serve the same purpose, to provide lighting for people to exit a building in case of an emergency, there are different categories based on the power and lighting source. 



Maintained emergency lights work in the same way as your normal lighting, but if the power goes out, the light switches to a battery-powered output. 

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This type of light only comes on in the event that the power in your building goes out. It is tied into your building’s power grid, which is how it charges its battery.

Central Battery

Central battery emergency and exit lights have battery power that is situated at one central point and fed to all of the lights on that grid in response to a power outage. These lights come with a LED indicator to let you know when the power system is charging the battery.


A sustained emergency light has two light sources: one for everyday use and another for when there is a power outage. Sustained lights ensure that you always have lighting when you need it because fluorescent lamps can easily fail. Since most companies are transitioning to more energy-efficient LEDs for their emergency lights, sustained lights are slowly being phased out.


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Where do I put emergency and exit lights?

Have you ever tried to navigate your way out of a place with no light? It isn’t easy, and if you needed to get out in a hurry, it would be next to impossible. Emergency and exit lights prevent this from happening when you strategically install them along paths toward exits.  

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The state of Oklahoma has adopted the IBC© 2015 Chapter 10 Means of Egress, which helps to define the proper locations for emergency and exit lights. According to that chapter, rooms that require two or more means of egress shall have lights that, in the event of a power outage, shall illuminate the following areas:

  • Aisles
  • Corridors
  • Exit access stairways and ramps


Could your emergency lights use an upgrade?

Not sure if your current emergency and exit light systems are working to their full capacity? Reach out to an FPS technician today. We can perform a comprehensive inspection of your current lighting system, make sure that it is up to code, and offer additional recommendations to ensure your patrons can exit the building quickly and safely in the event of an emergency.