Whether it’s through fire, earthquake or someone tripping over a cable, loss of power in a public building can induce panic, hinder escape and ultimately cost lives. Inability to locate an exit can be devastating for a whole number of reasons, from genuine danger to misconceived hysteria.
As such, by law, every building that is designed for public use must be fitted with Emergency Lighting that activates in the event of a power cut (irrespective of the reason) and guides its occupants to the nearest emergency exit. Emergency lighting is generally split into two options, maintained and non-maintained, but what’s the difference, and why should it matter to you?
So which should I use?
There is no ‘best’ option when it comes to emergency lighting, just that which is more applicable to your uses. For example, lighting a stairwell that exists purely as an exit route with maintained emergency lighting would prove to be a colossal exercise in wastefulness, whilst installing small, LED non-maintained lights in a large public gallery with high ceilings and cavernous rooms would also prove to be a mistake.
Ultimately, as is usually the case with lighting, it’s simply a case of assessing your needs and choosing accordingly, though in this instance I’d offer the following rule of thumb: familiar and small environments = non-maintained lighting, Large, unfamiliar settings = maintained lighting. Of course, it’s not always that simple.