Spotlight Blog

Tech Corner: Acuity Brands STAR (Self Testing Automated Reporting)

Oct 26, 2022 | Controls, Tech Corner

By Rob Pries

Hi, I’m Rob Pries, TLA Associate and Controls Manager, and I’m here to talk about STAR from Acuity Brands.

Although it’s not one of the most exciting topics, one of the most important, yet overlooked topics in the lighting industry is Life-Safety and Emergency Egress Lighting, including the need to ensure that it’s operating as designed.

We take it for granted because it’s not something that we think of daily because we rarely if ever need to evacuate a dark building when utility power is lost. When and if it happens, it’s critical that occupants can safely exit during an emergency and not be trapped in an unfamiliar, dark, smoke-filled building.

There are requirements in place for the design and installation of these Life-Safety systems as well as continuous testing to ensure that they remain operable. Unfortunately, the testing verification & documentation is not always enforced, and can be a huge liability for an owner, should a catastrophic event occur that involves injury to an occupant because they could not escape.

In this post, I will give a high-level overview of the NFPA guidelines and testing requirements, common emergency and exit lighting equipment, and how STAR (Self Testing Automated Reporting) can save lives and ensure compliance while protecting lives and saving money.

Safety codes

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) has guidelines that most States and Cities follow as Life-Safety Code (NFPA101).

These safety codes cover things like ensuring all egress doors are unlocked during business hours as well as emergency egress lighting, exit lights, and their requirements in all commercial buildings.

There are many ways that a building can be equipped with emergency & exit lighting:

  • Emergency Generators & Centralized Emergency Lighting backup battery UPS/Inverters are often used, but they are very costly and come with their own maintenance requirements.
  • Most often, we see built-in batteries in fixtures that are self-contained with their own individual battery and UL924 signal/transfer device to turn the light on to “full-bright” if normal power is lost. These can often be spotted by the test button, or red light indicating that they have normal power.
  • Other options include “Frog-Eyes” or combination “Exit-Frog-Eye” egress lighting. (See examples below.)

emergency & exit lighting

 

NFPA101 requirements

The NFPA requires that this equipment be tested monthly and annually:

  • Every month the test button must be pressed for 30 seconds, and the lights must come on, and stay lit for 30 seconds.
  • Each year, normal power must be turned off for 90 minutes and the lights must continue to operate for the entire duration.
  • All of the test results must be documented and retained for 5 years.

NFPA101 Code testing requirements

One can imagine that this could be a major task in a large building that has hundreds of Exit & emergency lights. Nobody has time for this every month and each year.

Until now, this would have been very hard to accomplish.

 

STAR (Self Testing Automated Reporting) system

Acuity Brands has developed an easy way for building owners to comply with these requirements without hiring a dedicated employee.

STAR (Self Testing Automated Reporting) system can do all this using wireless communication to a free smartphone app called Clairity+ App avail for iOS & Android.

Acuity STAR mobile access to emergency lighting reports

STAR reporting tool for iOS and Android

 

Below is a sample report that can be generated from the app.

Emergency lighting compliance check sample report

The graph below illustrates the labor savings in the perspective of “Cost of Ownership.”

5 year total cost of ownership chart

Although the initial installed cost is higher than non-STAR devices, the labor to test and document each month and year, making it a 2-year return on investment, not to mention the reduced liability.

This relatively short ROI, reduction in liability, and ability to manage your NFPA testing protocol wirelessly make STAR my choice for Life-Safety and Emergency Egress Lighting technology.

The TLA Controls Team has the experience and expertise you need to successfully deploy STAR in your commercial building. Send me an email or give me a call and let’s talk about your project.

Thanks for joining me today and I look forward to hearing from you!
— Rob

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Posted in: Controls | Tech Corner