Emergency lighting: everything you need to know

By: Javier
31 de January, 2022
Reading time: 5 min

Emergency lights are an essential feature of any lighting system. Regulations means they have to be installed in certain kinds of facilities and buildings and are also recommended in family homes. Emergency systems turn on automatically when there are power cuts or issues with the power supply.

In this article we will talk about...

  • What is emergency lighting used for?
  • Where does emergency lighting have to be installed?
  • What are the emergency lighting requirements?
  • Types of emergency lighting
  • SECOM emergency lighting

Emergency lights are an essential feature of any lighting system. Regulations means they have to be installed in certain kinds of facilities and buildings and are also recommended in family homes. Emergency systems turn on automatically when there are power cuts or issues with the power supply.

What is emergency lighting used for?

Emergency lighting compensates for the lack of light when main illumination systems fail. It helps to prevent accidents in the workplace and keeps workers safe when there is a power cut. When it comes to the people inside buildings, it is a lifesaver. 

The Low Voltage Electrotechnical Regulations address the following aspects of these lighting systems:

Lights along evacuation routes

Evacuation routes have to be suitably lit with a minimum illumination of 1 lux. This is key to guaranteeing visibility.

Alumbrado de emergencia en locales

Safety-related processes

The luminaires that are installed must make it easier to carry out safety-related operations. These include evacuations and access to safe areas, power supply facilities, alarms and protective equipment.

Illumination next to alarms and fire-fighting equipment

Facilitating access to alarms and fire-fighting systems from anywhere inside a building is important. Emergency lights need to guarantee visibility at all times and provide a luminous flux equal to or in excess of 30 lumens.

Where does emergency lighting have to be installed?

Emergency lighting systems are a requirement in certain areas, buildings and groups of facilities. Any building that is classed as public needs to comply with the following standards and regulations:

  • Low Voltage Regulations (RBT-2002 – ITC-BT-28).
  • Building Regulations – Fire protection in buildings (CTE-2006).
  • Illumination. Emergency lighting (UNE EN-1838:2016).
  • Premises with a capacity in excess of 100 people

Premises include restaurants, bars, recreational facilities and, in general, anywhere where over 100 people can gather. Evidently, this can include gyms and other sports facilities, education centres and shops. Whatever the facility, the evacuation routes need to be suitably illuminated. There must also be suitable lighting in one or more areas where people can shelter in an emergency.

Buildings used by the public

All buildings used by the public are required to have emergency illumination systems. Some examples include schools, libraries and health centres with a capacity in excess of 50 people.

Accessible routes

Emergency lighting systems also have to be installed along routes and transit areas and along accessible routes. The aim is to avoid crowds from gathering and prevent accidents that could be a safety hazard. Luminaires have to be fitted at least two metres above floor level, above all exit doors and wherever necessary to highlight potential hazards or safety equipment. 

Underground and covered car parks

Lighting is required in underground and covered car parks that are 100 metres square in size or more. They must have emergency lights and this includes on stairs or along corridors leading to communal areas or the outdoors. There is generally little or no natural light in these types of facilities and, if there is a power cut, they are left in total darkness. This is why emergency illumination is an essential feature in this type of car park.

Retail premises

These types of premises, many of which also include offices, generally have a capacity for more than 100 people. Taking into account what they are used for, these premises have to meet a number of safety requirements. The regulatory requirements for illumination vary depending on capacity. 

Residential buildings

Emergency illumination systems are compulsory in residential buildings according to building regulations in Spain. However, not all residential building have them. Given the variety of areas that need to be lit – landings, stairs, communal areas, access doors and so on – home owner associations should address this matter.



Factories and warehouses

All industrial buildings, factories and warehouses, in particular facilities where risk-related tasks take place, must have a minimum emergency illumination of 15 lux or 10% of normal levels of light. This is calculated based on the highest values and the difference between maximum illumination and minimum illumination must be less than 10. In these cases, health and safety comes first and these buildings must have luminaires that activate in emergency situations.

What are the emergency lighting requirements?

If we want emergency lighting to do its job without any hitches, then it must have a series of characteristics, including the following:

Position two metres above ground level

Luminaires must be fitted two metres above ground level because they need to provide maximum visibility and safety.


Exits needs to be visible and emergency sign luminaires must be fitted above exit doors at a height of at least 2 metres.

Evacuation routes

Emergency illumination in these areas ensure that people can leave the building safely. In evacuation routes that are no wider than 2 metres, horizontal illumination along the floor must be at least 1 lux along the central axis and 0.5 lux in the centre, which means at least half the width of the route. Routes that are over 2 metres wide can be classed as several routes of 2 metres wide each. Lights must also be fitted along stairs, next to steps and when transit routes change direction.

Illumination levels

Illumination levels vary depending on if lights are for evacuation or located in open areas (anti-panic) or high-risk areas. In the first case, the minimum illumination level must be 1 lux. In open areas, there must be at least 0.5 lux of horizontal illumination from the floor up to a height of 1 metre. Last of all, lighting levels must be at least 15 lux or 10% of the usual lighting levels in high-risk areas. Calculations must always be based on the highest figures.


There must be at least 5 lumens per metre square and the luminous flux from luminaires must be equal to or over 30 lumens. This can vary depending on the area that needs to be illuminated.

Types of emergency lighting

The Low Voltage Regulations divide emergency lighting into two different types.


Safety lights facilitate evacuation or make it possible to shut down dangerous tasks without this being a danger to individuals. They must turn on when the power supply fails or falls below 70% normal levels. Installations must be permanent and the power supply must be different to the supply for the main lighting system.

There are a number of sub-types including evacuation lights, open area (anti-panic) lights and lights for high-risk areas.


This type of light means that work can continue in the facilities during an emergency situation. When the illumination is lower than normal levels of light, its sole purpose is to enable workers to shut down jobs in a safe manner.

SECOM emergency lighting

Nowadays, LED emergency lights come with an energy savings and efficiency guarantee. SECOM has specific luminaires for these purposes, including:

  • ALET. Recessed indoor emergency luminaire.
  • EMERGENCIA ERGO. Indoor luminaire.
  • ERGEN. Indoor emergency luminaire.
  • SUBITI. Emergency track luminaire.
  • SUBITI. IP44 Indoor emergency luminaire / IP65 outdoor emergency luminaire.
  • VERTEN. IP20 Indoor emergency luminaire / IP65 outdoor emergency luminaire. Recessed or surface light.

All of the SECOM LED emergency luminaires come with the guarantee that they have excellent features and are resistant and durable.

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