With emergency lighting regulated under the Building Code, ensuring compliance is often a challenge for young electricians and engineers, but getting it right from design to commissioning and completed producer statements is easy now, says Jake Keller of Electrical Supply Corp (ESC).
Keller is a technical and service specialist at ESC and oversees emergency lighting projects to make sure consulting engineers, electrical contractors and their wholesalers all receive the support they need to for projects to go smoothly.
ESC supplies the Stanilite range of emergency and exit lighting solutions and has developed systems to make installing an emergency system of any scale and type as easy and efficient as possible.
Keller says the processes he has developed have proved to be invaluable in the nearly 150 projects he has taken care of so far, but the real gains for designers, installers and users in larger projects come in the advances made in Stanilite’s new NexusRF Infinity monitored solution.
“Stanilite NexusRF Infinity puts users in complete control of their emergency lighting installation for the first time. They can now maintain and control their entire emergency lighting installation via a web browser on any mobile device or computer with access to the network.”
Keller has just commissioned an emergency lighting project at the Christchurch Boys’ High School using the NexusRF Infinity System.
He says the 18-month construction project included three buildings, two of them new and one an existing building requiring an emergency lighting retrofit to replace the old system.
The new solution was designed by Beca’s in Christchurch and incorporated about 200 fittings. Keller says a project like this shows how easy it is to specify a Stanilite emergency lighting solution and have the full support of ESC swing in behind it.
“The fittings are simple to install and because the system works completely via RF it doesn’t require any additional wiring. Typically, you can install just one router per 250 fittings, connect it to the data network and ESC will come and program it for you.
“When the fittings have been installed, commissioned and tested, we will then provide a test report which will give the installing electrician all the information they need to complete a PS 3.
The Christchurch Boys’ High School project was a good size and easily manageable, says Keller.
“It was well designed and the Electrical Engineer at Beca was really good at communicating what they wanted. We were able to ensure supply of the fittings at the right time and with the right set up.
“The biggest design challenge was the system being spread out over three buildings. We had to engage the IT team at the school to ensure we could network the controllers across the three different buildings to provide site-wide coverage. Each building has its own controller in it and they are all networked together so anyone logging into it can see the whole system on one screen.”
Keller says ESC can supply the right level of support for any electrical contractor, whether it is their first emergency lighting job or they are experienced at running a project.
“The Boys’ High project was delivered by a really competent electrical contractor Christchurch Electrical who won the job in an open tender.”
Electrical supervisor, Maarten Vijfhuizen, ran the project for Christchurch Electrical.
He says the way ESC did the detailed drawings from the base drawing he supplied made it very easy to carry out the installation and keep track of the fittings as the project progressed.
“They numbered everything, the process was clear and simple. Everything was spelled out. They supplied us with a spreadsheet so that we could attach the barcode off each fitting to get the numbering on the plans right”.
“Once everything was installed, ESC took over and loaded the data into the software so they could carry out commissioning.”
Vijfhuizen says the project went well with good local representation from ESC and good technical support in the delivery and commissioning of the system.
“The ESC team was really approachable, kept everything simple and answered questions at any time. They also briefed the maintenance staff member at the school on how to use the system.”
While larger emergency lighting projects are usually designed by consultants, ESC can also supply a full design service for electrical contractor design-build projects.
Jake Keller, an electrician himself, says ESC can design emergency lighting to any scale for a new site or for an upgrade on an existing site, commercial or industrial.
“There has been no situation we have encountered where we haven’t been able to provide a practical solution to get the system fully functional.”
He says NexusRF Infinity monitored solutions are more affordable where the cost of the controllers is offset by the communication cable-free design, the ease of monitoring from a remote location and being able to save time by identifying any problem fitting for maintenance.
“Plan numbering confirms the location of the fitting, and the system diagnostics provide all the information relating to the performance of the fitting and the specific maintenance needed. This means that when there is a fault on the system the contractor knows exactly where to go and what gear is needed, this speeds the whole process of repairs up considerably”.
Keller says no engineer or electrical contractor should shy away from a NexusRF Infinity solution because it is the strongest system on the market.
“The Stanilite solution from ABB was first introduced in 2005 and is now on its fourth major iteration. It is better and faster with a very stable and robust communication protocol. The Nexus RF Infinity upgrade has completely redesigned the communication protocol on the system and it now needs to transmit less data which makes the system have better transmitting range and allows for a faster communication. It is also more user-friendly with the phone connection which is a real benefit when using the system, especially when in the field.”
Updated colour-coded diagnostic reports show which fittings pass or fail, how many minutes they are online and for how many minutes the batteries have been charging.
He says engineers and contractors can be confidant in the level of support provided by ESC to make sure every project runs as smooth as possible to a successful outcome.
A lot of ESC’s preparation work takes the risk out of the project for the contractor and eliminates wasting time at the end of the job trying to solve anomalies.
“We provide an initial run-down of the system and briefly go over how we are going to do the job and the systems we have created to manage it. The numbering of fittings on the drawings and correlation of the numbers on the installation spreadsheet establishes common references from the start and makes record keeping more efficient for installers during the installation.
“When setting the job up in the early stages I will specify where the controllers need to be installed throughout the installation. Having these locations mapped out on the plans means that the instructions are clear, and the relevant teams can ensure that the power and data outlets are provided in the controllers final location.”
Keller says once everything is installed, the records are complete and the network is ready, he goes to the site and arranges access to the network with the sites IT department. He assigns IP addresses to the controllers, sets them up and integrates them into the network.
If the final on-site commissioning cannot be completed to 100% due to job progress or site conditions, then in most cases a remote access can be set up which will allow ESC to be more nimble to the contractors demands around the handover. Most of the sites will be set up with a remote access which means that any future support or service can be provided quickly and easily. Understanding the challenges with IT security, ESC will work in with the IT team on site to ensure that any remote connection are securely managed to the end users requirements.
He says even with a technically advanced system like Nexus RF Infinity, the complexity is handled by the technology so the installation and day to day use is made as easy as possible and the end user can fully reap the benefits of the system.