Understanding the Circuit Board in Your Emergency Lighting

If you are installing emergency lights, whether this is garage lighting, low bay lighting fixtures, or other off the grid lighting, you need to understand what the circuit boards are doing in your light fixtures. The circuit board light fixture is powered by a battery and controlled by the circuit board. The circuit board is integral to the functioning of the light. The board keeps the battery fully charged, switches the units to emergency power if your building should lose power, and also converts the AC power coming out of your building into DC electricity to power the light and to charge the battery. When it comes to emergency lighting, all of these processes must work properly. You must be able to rely upon them working correctly in an emergency, and if any of the components fail, your emergency light could become completely worthless. It is important to regularly maintain the circuit board so that it will always operate correctly and be able to accomplish all of its sophisticated tasks.

Battery Charging

No matter what type of battery you’re talking about, all batteries will lose their charge over time. Without some way of counteracting this problem, an emergency light would essentially be useless. A trickle charge of power, sporadically applied, is the only way to ensure that a battery not only runs at full capacity, but also lasts as long as possible.

Switching Power in An Emergency

Whenever you experience a power failure, the circuit board circuitry should automatically switch the light to run over on battery backup power. Typically it takes a few seconds to perform this maneuver, as the electrolyte capacitor and the resistor on the circuit board function as the kind of timer. The reason for the delay is so there will be no flickering. Flickering is caused by sudden dips in voltage levels when the appliances on any circuit suddenly turns on. You may have noticed this phenomenon happening whenever your air conditioner or other high-draw electrical item comes on. If an emergency light switches immediately to battery power upon AC power failure, this means the capacitor has probably been compromised and the circuit board should be checked.

Converting Power

There are no batteries that run on AC power, so the AC power from your building must be converted to DC power so that the battery can be properly charged. Fortunately, there are lightbulbs available the can run off of both AC and DC current. In order to transfer AC power to DC power, the circuit board must use a half-wave bridge rectifier which allows the positive waveform to pass straight through the unit’s DC circuits without causing an issue. This is the simplest way to convert the power.

Circuit Board Specifics

The circuit board inside of any emergency light should be able to last 10 to 15 years. The first thing to fail on a circuit board is typically the electrolyte capacitor. This is because the electrolytes inside dry out over time. This drying process can be accelerated if the environment around your emergency light is particularly hot. If you find that your emergency light has failed, either during a maintenance test or an emergency, the first step is to test the bulbs and the battery. These are the simplest items to test, and if they seem to be functioning correctly then the circuit board should be changed. Unlike with computer circuit boards, circuit board light fixtures do not have to be in a static-free environment in order to be replaced. They can simply be unattached and a new circuit board reattached. However, every type of lamp, battery, and voltage requirement uses a unique circuit board. It is very important to change out your old circuit board for the exact same model made by the same manufacturer, or a substitute that the manufacturer recognizes as suitable for their light fixtures.

Lighting is it essential for safety and compliance with regulations and local ordinances and codes. Make sure that your emergency lighting and its circuit boards are correctly installed and functioning properly. That way you can be assured of good light in the event of an emergency.

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