An investment in emergency lighting is a smart move only when you have done your research first. Why is the research important? It is to ensure maximum return on your investment. In simpler words the landscape of emergency lighting is fast changing thanks to unbelievable technological advancements in the recent times. The market is although flooded with different varieties of the product but most of those are actually obsolete as a result of the latest improvement in technology. Instead of bringing home a product with much lesser efficiency, it is always better to zero in upon a more advanced system. It could mean significant saving on both time and cost factors.
When you finally select the right system, there is no need upgrading or replacing it in just a few years timeline, adds an emergency light installation professional based in London. Let us now explore few of the latest innovations in the world of emergency lighting systems to make you little aware about the latest breakthroughs in this field. It will help you make better decisions easily during your next upgrade.
Emergency lighting technology – a small recap
The first version of emergency emerged over 50 years back. The early models were run by batteries whereas the modern ones have fully computerised testing systems.
A central battery system used to be the nucleus of the first emergency lighting system. Every building thus used to have a vast battery bank. a fire-rated cable used to connect the emergency light to its central source. Around 1950s there was significant change to the existing model. The central battery system got replaced with systems that were self-contained. However it must be interesting to note even to this day and time nearly 15 to 20% of emergency lighting market in the UK is made up of central battery systems.
The self-contained system obviously had its benefits. Every fitting came with a battery to tackle situations of power failure. Those batteries were much larger than those of today. Proper maintenance of central battery systems required specialised skill sets although those were easier to maintain. The Ni-Cd or Nickel Cadmium batteries made their appearance from 1950s. these batteries unlike the earlier ones could handle lot more heat. Moreover were smaller in size and could hold much greater energy. This allowed emergency lights and exit signs to shrink in size and be more compact. The Nickel Metal hydride batteries or Ni-Mh emerged in the late 2000’s. as a result the Ni-Cd batteries started getting replaced with this new one.
What made Ni-Mh batteries popular? These came with greater energy density as better environment credentials. But on the flip side the variety was more costly. In last few years the Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries have become quite common across the UK. Lithium Iron Phosphates contain no toxic carcinogen or metal. It is highly eco-friendly and its energy density is even much higher compared to the previous versions.
Coming of the LEDs
LED or Light Emitting Diode came into the market since almost mid late 2000s. LEDs are much more environment friendly as well as energy efficient. It allows securing the same light levels using much smaller batteries to light fittings. LED lamps come with a pretty long life (usually over 10 years). LED emergency lights particularly stand alone, non maintained fittings last even longer without much of care and maintenance effort.
Computerised testing systems
Computerised testing systems were first introduced in the late 1900s. in this technology each fitting is connected through a data cable. The system is little complex as well as costly for both installation and maintenance. However, little improvisation by removing the extra wiring or data cables made lot of difference. Powerline technology was used to connect emergency light fittings with a central controller.
In the latest development, manufacturers are using RF systems (RF stands for Radio Frequency) to make wireless connection between the central controller and emergency light fittings. But as there is a limitation on RF inside buildings, a number of hardware devices need to be installed to provide backbone to the system. This extra hardware makes the system complex as well as the installation procedure costly.
DSM meshing technology
DSM Meshing technology is the shortened form of Dynamic Self-Managed meshing. It is one of the latest advances in emergency lighting. Mesh networks are already in use in various applications since the last half of the 1990s. But it is only the last few years that the technology is in use in emergency lighting.
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More about the technology used in emergency lighting –
Emergency light fittings are wirelessly connected with surrounding niodes directly through the RF system.
Self-organising as well as self-configuring
The devices cooperate with each other to build up a dynamic network. The network then searches out the most efficient route to transmit data back to the controller. In easier words the nodes do not depend on any one route or failure point. Moreover since the nodes are self-organising, they configure themselves after being installed. As in any other self-configuring entity, this one too is pretty fast in getting up and running smoothly.
Meshing when combines with the RF, minimises the backbone hardware devices needed for data transmission. Each controller remains connected to a ‘mesh’ of up to 1000 emergency light fittings using DSM meshing. On the other hand, RF systems that do not use the DSM meshing technology can manage only 25o devices per controller. As a result the installation not only becomes more complex but also more costly.
By virtue of self-managing the system maximises its efficiency using limited resources. There can be a network of 1000 fittings that uses 40 channels to communicate across. In earlier versions of the system all those channels were used up pretty fast. This resulted in limiting the amount of data transmission with the entire system going very slow. But with self-managing systems the devices are allowed to manage their own frequency, explain experts dealing in lighting installation across London. A device uses just the sufficient power that is needed to transmit data to its closest neighbours. This allows the other devices in the network to use the same channel and you can increase the bandwidth of the channel exponentially.