Legal and other provisions for accident prevention, occupational health and safety and construction which exist in nearly all European countries determine whether emergency lighting is required or mandatory.

If emergency lighting is required or mandatory, the following standards apply:

  • European standard EN 1838 (October 2013) concerning photometric requirements for emergency lighting

  • EN 12193 concerning safety at sports facilities in case of power failures

  • European standard EN 50172 "Emergency escape lighting systems", published in Germany as DIN EN 50172, edition 2005 – 01 (formerly VDE 108, part 100) and in Switzerland as SN EN 50172, edition 2004-08 concerning electrotechnical requirements

  • EN 60598-2-22 "Luminaires – Particular requirements - Luminaires for emergency lighting" concerning luminaires

  • International standard ISO 3864 "Graphical symbols - Safety colours and safety signs", published in Germany as DIN ISO 3864, concerning signage for escape routes

  • DIN 4844 "Safety signage" and additionally trade association regulation BGV A8 (formerly VBG 125) for Germany

The A-deviations listed in the annex to EN 1838 demonstrate that deviating lighting levels are mandatory in some countries due to legal provisions. It follows that, in addition to the aforementioned standards, country-specific laws and regulations on emergency lighting must also be observed.

The following minimum requirements for emergency lighting are based on the stipulations of EN 1838 which, however, only apply to rooms with no additional visual obstructions such as smoke, vapour or fumes. A general power failure caused by fire can affect escape conditions significantly due to persons losing orientation as a result of drastically limited visual range and being unable to recognise the escape route signage, which must be located at least 2 m above the ground according to EN 1838.

Smoke quickly ascends to the upper air layers in the room and forms a "smoke-deprived" zone up to ca. 0,5 m above the ground. Safety guidance systems leading towards escape routes should be positioned in this area.

For electrical requirements concerning emergency light systems see chapter .