A Guide to Maintaining Emergency Lights with Generator Backup

December 29, 2023

In times of crisis, having a reliable emergency lighting system is paramount to ensuring the safety of occupants in a building. While emergency lights are crucial in guiding individuals to safety during power outages, buildings equipped with generator backup systems have an added layer of security. This blog post will delve into the importance of maintaining emergency lights with generator backup and provide a step-by-step guide to ensure proper functioning.

One thing that is important to highlight is that having a generator doesn’t remove the need to follow the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. Emergency Lights that are present must be inspected monthly and maintained for safety and code compliance. The main reason is the generator is a single point of failure where if it doesn’t work correctly, which does happen, then the whole building will be without lighting. With emergency lights, each fixture is independent of others so one not working properly doesn’t affect the others.

The Significance of Emergency Lighting:

Emergency lights are designed to activate automatically during a power outage, providing illumination to guide people safely to exits and evacuation routes. These lights are even more critical in buildings with generator backup, as they operate seamlessly during prolonged power disruptions.

Regular Inspection Checklist:

  1. Monthly Visual Inspection:
    • Begin with a visual inspection of all emergency lights throughout the building.
    • Check for any physical damage, such as cracked lenses or loose connections.
    • Ensure that lights are clean and free from dust or debris that might obstruct their glow.
  2. Battery Check:
    • Emergency lights are typically equipped with rechargeable batteries. Regularly check the status of these batteries to ensure they are functioning optimally.
    • Verify that the battery terminals are clean and corrosion-free.
    • Annually test the battery backup system for 90 minutes by simulating a power outage. Ensure that the lights switch to battery power promptly and stay illuminated for the specified duration.
  3. Functional Testing:
    • Conduct functional tests on each emergency light to confirm that they activate automatically when the main power supply is interrupted.
    • Please verify that the lights remain on for the required duration and that there is no flickering or irregularities in their operation.
  4. Exit Signs Inspection:
    • If the emergency lighting system includes exit signs, inspect them for visibility and proper illumination.
    • Verify the exit signs are positioned strategically and visible from various building locations.
  5. Generator Integration Test:
    • Ensure the emergency lighting system integrates seamlessly with the building’s generator backup.
    • Test the transition between the main power supply and the generator to confirm that emergency lights function without interruption.
  6. Record Keeping:
    • Maintain a comprehensive log of all inspections, including dates, findings, and any corrective actions taken.
    • Keep records of battery replacement schedules and other routine maintenance tasks.


In buildings with generator backup, the reliability of emergency lighting systems is a crucial component of overall safety preparedness. Regular inspections, testing, and maintenance are essential to ensure that emergency lights operate seamlessly during power outages. By following a thorough inspection checklist and staying proactive in addressing any issues, building managers and safety personnel can enhance the safety and well-being of occupants, providing peace of mind in the face of unexpected power outages by maintaining emergency lights with generator backup.