[an error occurred while processing this directive] Lighting

Emergency Lighting

by Bryan A. Thompson

Last Updated 2/10/2003



Emergency lighting is important, but it often consumes a lot of electrical energy.  This information will help to minimize the energy required for emergency lighting.


Energy Efficient Lighting

Use fluorescent bulbs in floor lamp fixtures.  Connect the lamps to UPSes so that light is available when a blackout occurs.  These bulbs are direct replacements for regular bulbs and work every bit as good as incandescent bulbs - they're even the same color as incandescent bulbs.  Fluorescent bulbs use about 1/8 to 1/4 of the power of incandescent bulbs for a given light output.  They're a little more expensive, but they have a lot longer expected lifetime and use a lot less energy.

Install motion sensors on your lamps.  These monitor movement in the room and turn off lights after a preset time when no movement is detected.  We have these in our offices and they're available for floor lamps, too.  They work pretty well unless you're sitting still for too long.  They have an override in case this is a problem.

Have a Coleman Fluorescent Lantern and charged batteries to provide portable lighting in the event of a blackout.  Modify it to take a rechargeable battery instead of 6V batteries or D cells.

Get an LED flashlight - they're really efficient sources of portable lighting.


Emergency Lighting

Fluorescent Lanterns - These are safe, portable, really energy efficient and have a really long run time.  I bought a Coleman model that used two 6V lantern batteries (up to 24hrs run time) and converted it to run from one of my leftover UPS batteries.  It runs for 48-72hrs on one charge.  The lantern came with adapters so that D cells could be used in the lantern, and has a 12V jack built-in that can be rewired so that rechargeable batteries can easily be charged without removal.  This is my preferred portable emergency lighting solution.  My only complaint is that the top and bottom screw on (maybe 10 degrees from open to closed), and they are always falling off. 

Floor Lamps - Have a floor lamp in each room to provide emergency lighting.  Don't use regular light bulbs - use fluorescent bulbs to minimize the energy this requires.  These are cheap - lamp and bulb are less than $15 at Walmart.  Connect them to a UPS-backed outlet so that lighting is available in a blackout.  This is my preferred fixed emergency lighting solution.

Candles - These always impressed me as really dangerous, so I don't recommend them at all. 

Oil Lamps - These also seem dangerous, so I don't recommend them.

Flashlights - These require batteries, so they're not easily sustainable through an extended blackout.  Get rechargeable batteries and bulbs for the flashlight if you plan to rely on it for emergency lighting.

Coleman Lanterns - These impress me as dangerous, but they do work.  They'll run from Coleman Fuel, gasoline or propane, so they're versatile.  Make sure you have extra fuel, matches, mantles and an extra pump if you plan to use this method.


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