By Ryan Maroney, PE

As you know, emergency egress lighting codes can be difficult to interpret. In my previous article, we focused on “the why” of emergency egress lighting code requirements and discussed the purpose behind these requirements. Let’s take this one step further and dive into solutions for implementing emergency egress lighting on your next project.


“Bug-eye” lights used as standalone fixtures can be used to satisfy emergency egress lighting requirements. With this approach, emergency lighting units are provided along the egress path, wired to the unswitched leg of the circuit that feeds the normal lighting fixtures. These bug-eye lights remain off during normal building operations in the presence of utility power when their integral batteries remain fully charged up by the utility power. Upon losing utility power, or if the breaker feeding the lighting trips, the bug-eyes turn on and provide illumination via their integral batteries. These units are generally small and inexpensive, which can be a plus in a project with a tight budget.

However, it is arguably the least aesthetically pleasing solution available due to the addition of separate units spaced along the egress path dedicated solely to emergency egress lighting. Maintenance-wise, these units can be easily tested and replaced, as they are visible and distinguishable in the space. However, as they are dispersed, maintenance will require physically reaching each unit, which can be time-consuming depending on the size of the building and egress path(s).