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green emergency exit sign in public building.

Emergency lighting and off-grid central battery systems

Off-grid central battery systems are critical for homes and businesses that need a fall-back option should they lose power from their main supply. The most common reasons for needing a back-up battery are:

  • to power emergency lighting in the event of a mains failure
  • to act as a reserve for homes and businesses that use renewable energy


In this blog, we’ll consider both scenarios and explore how these battery systems work.

Emergency lighting with a back-up battery

Though you can’t always see it, emergency lighting is installed in most commercial buildings. This type of lighting is backed up by a separate battery, so in the event of a power failure, it is still able to keep escape routes well lit.

There are several types of emergency lighting, including:

  • emergency exit signs
  • halogen spotlights in large spaces
  • standby lighting for work areas
  • recessed fluorescent lights
  • emergency ceiling lights and downlighters

In an emergency, if the power to a building is lost and the occupants inside have to evacuate, they need to be able to see in order to get out. This is the main reason for having emergency lighting, but it is also a legal requirement.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 sets out its expectations that all non-domestic buildings must have emergency lighting that is backed up by a battery. It also says that this system must be maintained and tested regularly.

Not all emergency lighting is used to help people evacuate. Some standby lighting is fitted in high-risk task areas where occupants must finish what they are doing or continue with their work even in the event of a power outage.

EMCAL 12 volt back-up battery connection

Off-grid central battery systems

Some homes and businesses are ‘off-the-grid’ and take their power from renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines or solar panels. To ensure their power supply is uninterrupted both day and night, these systems use back-up batteries.

Off-grid central battery systems work in the same way as the battery packs for emergency lighting. If the power from the renewable energy source drops off, the back-up battery is ready and waiting with enough charge to takeover.

Some people have no choice but to live ‘off-grid’ because they live or work in an isolated area of the country, which isn’t hooked up to a mains supply. For others, switching to a renewable energy source is a way for them to lower their carbon footprint.

Some experts estimate that as many as 100,000 households in the UK are not connected to the grid, either voluntarily or through factors beyond their control.  

Unfortunately wind, water, and solar power are not always reliable, so the back-up battery is an essential part of the renewable energy system. It’s much cleaner than using a diesel-powered generator and more cost-efficient.  

Aerial view above houses in an old British village in the country

How does the back-up battery work?

Battery packs are sophisticated systems that can detect when the main power supply fails or when energy generation stops – for example solar panels cannot generate electricity once it is dark.

If this happens, the battery is ready to takeover, and when the main supply returns to normal or the sun comes out, the system transfers everything back again. During normal operation, these powerful batteries harvest energy ready for the next time they are needed.

Some batteries are fitted with a static inverter so they can be used with a range of emergency lighting applications. The inverter can switch to powering low-voltage lighting and other direct-current (DC) appliances when needed.

We also offer mini LED static inverters that are designed to provide a cost-effective solution for emergency lighting in multi-level buildings. It can remain active for three hours in the event of a power outage, reducing the risk of a complete blackout.  

At Emcal, we design systems to fit the needs of our customers. Our battery packs are made to order from Powerguard. This UK-based company manufactures bespoke off-grid central battery systems from their base in Louth, Lincolnshire.  

Our approach is scalable so whether you have a small office, a farm, or an airport – we can design and supply a battery system that is fit-for-purpose.

Why choose Emcal-Systems?

We have over 35 years of experience in the industry, and we’ve worked with household names across the country on the design, supply and maintenance of their emergency lighting and central battery systems, including:  

  • Morrisons (sites across the UK)
  • Birmingham Airport
  • London Gatwick Airport
  • Newcastle Leisure Centre
  • Sheffield Hallam University

Every project we work on is different, so we take the time to understand the problem before we suggest a solution. We believe that businesses and homeowners benefit from having a more personal service, which is why we put our customers first.

Recently, we designed and installed an off-grid system for a remote farmhouse in Scotland – you can see just how remote this farm is in our video. To complement the energy the farm generates using solar panels, we installed a central battery system, and the household now benefits from uninterrupted power 24/7.

At Emcal-Systems, we guarantee a professional finish. After all, our reputation is everything, which is why we’re proud to represent Sheffield as one of the local businesses that are part of the Chambers of Commerce.

Taking the next steps

Whether you’re a homeowner or the responsible person for emergency lighting and power in your business, we can help. Get in touch with our team to find out more about our design, supply, and installation – we can talk you through what we offer on the phone then arrange a visit to look at your property’s electrical system.

We specialise in emergency lighting and off-gird central battery systems, so before you go anywhere else, Call in the experts for a no-pressure chat.