Most End Users, Battery Suppliers, Electrical Contractors, and Facilities personnel are unaware of the difference in operation and legal requirements between Emergency Lighting Equipment and other types of battery backup systems.
Emergency Lighting systems are Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed as Life Safety Equipment and therefore have very stringent requirements that must be met in their construction and performance. Equipment that is to be used for emergency lighting must be listed for this category as determined by the National Electrical Code (NEC), Article 700 and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code #101. These codes dictate the specifics as to when, where, what, and how Emergency Lighting Equipment shall be used. They also dictate that all Emergency Lighting Systems must have periodic maintenance with records kept on file of this maintenance.
Emergency Lighting Equipment listed by Underwriters Laboratories (under UL Standard #924) must meet performance testing requirements since it will be relied upon to provide a specified amount of power for 90 minutes during a power outage. The UL listing report will indicate which specific batteries the unit is to be provided with and this information is included with the system in the form of markings. If any other batteries are placed in one of these systems, it causes the UL listing to be meaningless. In this case, a Code violation occurs due to these changes.
• If this is discovered, the local Inspection Authority can shut down the building in question until corrections are made to bring the unit back into compliance.
• Whoever made, and authorized the changes can be held liable in the event of injury during a power outage.
• If a claim is filed because of an injury, the insurance company could deny any claim due to this negligent act. This would put all parties involved at great financial risk and could also result in punitive damages.
• In addition to the legal ramifications, most battery suppliers are not aware of the necessary changes/adjustments to the charger and electronics that are required when a different battery is installed.
• This could also cause premature battery failure or excess gassing and possible explosion of the hydrogen in the battery during a transfer to emergency.
• This situation doesn't give the customer a reliable system for Life Safety required in his/her building.