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Exit Light Battery - Type, Cycle Life, and Changing
Every emergency light and exit sign uses a battery for powering the lamps. To ensure uninterrupted operation of the emergency light, every exit light sign utilizes rechargeable batteries. The circuit entailed by the emergency light ensures both chargings of the battery and expanded storage capacity.
As per regulatory authorities' guidelines, emergency light owners should perform a periodic maintenance check either monthly or biannually. If either of the 90-second or 90-minute (which involves the lamps not lighting up) emergency readiness tests prove unsuccessful, an immediate replacement of your emergency light batteries might be required. However, fortunately, the maintenance process is pretty straightforward and entails simple steps if a replacement is needed.
Although most Luminaries involve a push-to-test switch that can give you an accurate battery reading, assessing some other emergency light's capacity is also not a difficult feat to achieve. Today, several emergency light fixtures come with a self-testing option that allows the unit to automatically run monthly checks. Such features further reduce the need for maintenance, thereby improving the efficiency of an emergency light system.
What type of batteries do exit signs use?Batteries used in exit signs are primarily categorized into two major types:
●Sealed lead-acid batteries (the same type used in cars)
Sealed lead-acid batteries are the most contemporary rechargeable technology available. It is the same type used in cars. They are termed lead-acid because they entail lead alloy plates immersed in acid. The electrolyte present in lead-acid batteries breaks down the plate, producing charged electrons that carry electricity. However, more recently, the technology involving lead-acid batteries have improved, allowing for fully sealed units that do not require the addition of water to maintain the acid level.
Apart from this, three other types of battery cells are used in modern exit signs, including nickel-cadmium (NiCad) and nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries.
A nickel-cadmium battery's shelf life is up to ten years and is available in various sizes and capacities to fit different requirements. They resemble small black bricks entailing contact points on the front and sides. On the other hand, nickel hydride batteries appear similar to nickel-cadmium cells, only smaller when it comes to size. The only significant distinction between nickel hydride and nickel-cadmium batteries is NiMH's design that involves negative contact points made from a hydrogen-absorbing alloy rather than cadmium.
However, despite the upcoming technology, sealed lead-acid batteries are found in most exit sign combo units. Regardless of their age, sealed acid-lead batteries can withstand a heavier electric load than NiCad or NiMH batteries, making them ideal for combo units.
How long do exit light batteries last?Emergency light batteries involve a minimum design life of four years. However, in some cases, they will last well beyond this. However, if you are a more cautious homeowner, changing the batteries every four years mitigate the impending risks that may arise from pushing the battery beyond its prescribed limits. Apart from this, the manufacturer of the emergency light/ gear will be able to provide you with better information on their product's expected lifetime.
With technology unleashing unprecedented advances every year, users find that more and more companies are using LiFePO4 batteries for emergency lighting. Not only do these batteries consume less power, but studies have shown that they can last more than twice the life entailing conventional batteries.
Exit batteries are not designed to operate your exit sign at all times. They are manufactured only as a back up in emergency situations when you lose power. During a power outage, the battery in an exit sign in most cases is designed to last at least 90 minutes. However, users must be aware of the fact that when power is going to the exit sign, it would mean that the battery is charging.
Experts highly recommend that you check your exit signs periodically to make sure they are operating accurately. Most exit signs fall under governmental ambit, regulations, and codes to assure the safety of the building's occupants during an emergency. Any failure to keep up with the safety guidelines associated with the exit sign batteries can have you fined. Ensure that your emergency lights are updated and in compliance with the norms if an inspector arrives at your doorstep to assess the situation.
How do you change the battery in your emergency lights?You can easily replace your emergency light batteries by following this comprehensive step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Start by taking a screwdriver and open up the housing. Most emergency lights will take Philip's head. Although Luminaires' special vandal-proof emergency light installed at some hazardous location will require a particular hex driver bit. However, here's hoping that either you or your maintenance department kept the included bit when purchasing the device.
Step 2: Now that you have done the devil's work and removed the plate, the emergency light box will present you with entangled wires (and a lot of them, but don't worry, it is normal). Some of these will be red, some black and blue, while some white. However, these electrical wires will lead from the AC electrical conduit to a voltage transformer, eventually leading to the switching circuits. Nonetheless, it is essential to note that one, two, or several wires at once might connect the circuit board to the battery.
Step 3: Based on the kind of emergency light installed, the battery will either be sealed lead-acid (SLA) or Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) battery type. A rule of thumb for identification involves SLAs looking like baby car batteries, while NiCd resembles standard household AAA batteries, monogrammed in a protective plastic shrink wrap.
Regardless of the type, most batteries will automatically slide out of the unit once the wires have been removed from the positive and negative contact terminals. Apart from this, individuals must note that emergency lights can house some cells in a harness. However, it is necessary that you first remove them for a secure replacement.
In ConclusionIf you know even a little about the battery requirements for various emergency exit signs, purchasing replacements or renewal supplies can become a much easier feat in the future.