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#27392 - 07/13/03 04:28 AM Stairway lighting in apartment buildings
Texas_Ranger Offline
Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2351
Loc: Vienna, Austria
This is a question out of mere curiosity. How is stairway lighting in apartment buildings usually done in the US? I once had a guest from NYC and he was totally surprised by our pushbutton system.
In Austria we usually have combined relay-timer system, i.e. during daytime pushing a button will switch on the light for 3 minutes. At dusk it will switch on permanently until a preset time (e.g. 9:30PM), sometimes we'll also install dusk-to-dawn sensors that switch on the light. After 9:30 the light is set back to pushbutton operation. How is this done in the US?
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#27393 - 07/13/03 07:25 AM Re: Stairway lighting in apartment buildings
Ron Offline
Registered: 03/13/02
Posts: 577
Loc: White Plains, NY
Generally, stairway lighting is on at all times to permit egress. During a power outage, we also have emergency lighting for egress with exit signage to direct to the door.
#27394 - 07/13/03 07:26 AM Re: Stairway lighting in apartment buildings
ThinkGood Offline
Registered: 08/07/02
Posts: 1084
Loc: Milwaukee, WI
In the apartment buildings that I have seen, most of them built before 1970, there is 24-hour lighting. To allow tenants to switch the light off could be a safety issue. Welcome to America

To clarify, by "safety" I mean "crime."

As Ron posted, there usually are the battery-powered backup lights and EXIT signs. Also, smoke detectors, for sure. Some buildings have fire alarm pull stations also. Some can activate auxiliary lighting.

[This message has been edited by ThinkGood (edited 07-13-2003).]
#27395 - 07/15/03 08:12 PM Re: Stairway lighting in apartment buildings
John Steinke Offline
Registered: 04/03/01
Posts: 509
Loc: Reno,Nv., USA
The push-button system used overseas is one thing that I'd like the US to adopt.
For those who haven't seen it, at each level in a stairwell there is a button that you push for light. This button is tied into a timer in the panel, and allows the lights to be on for enough time to make it to the next level (usually!).
The only improvement I'd make is to illuminate those push buttons!

Here in the US, stairwell and hall lights are usually always on, and do not usually have any switches accessible to the public.
Buildings that are not usually occupied may have combination timer/switches; you turn the dial, and you have light for a timed interval.
There is also a move toward motion sensors to activate lights in public areas.

One of the downsides of the US "always on" method is that managers often either put in the smallest bulbs they can find, or remove bulbs from most of the fixtures. The result is, of course, dim hallways. The pathetic diodes in the "Exit" sign are often the brightest light in the hall.
#27396 - 07/16/03 02:10 AM Re: Stairway lighting in apartment buildings
pauluk Offline
Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I can see the possibility of conflict here between safety committees and energy conservation groups.

The timer push-button controls were quite common in England as well, Tex. I'm not sure how widely they're still employed these days, as it's many years since I've been around these sort of buildings.
#27397 - 07/16/03 10:54 AM Re: Stairway lighting in apartment buildings
Texas_Ranger Offline
Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2351
Loc: Vienna, Austria
Here in Austria the pushbuttons usually are illuminated, mostly red. Typical timer setting is 3 minutes. I've also seen that system used in hotels. Commercial buildings usually have permanent lighting through the business hours but only emergency lighting at night. Schools and other public buildings often have a huge panel with simple switches for all the lights somewhere near the front door.
I think 24h lighting is a bit over the top in apartment buildings.
#27398 - 07/18/03 09:55 AM Re: Stairway lighting in apartment buildings
C-H Offline

Registered: 09/17/02
Posts: 1508
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
I don't see the purpose of pushbuttons anymore. They work fine, but you need a lot of them. Firstly there has to be one reasonably close to each door. Secondly, if the light is already on when you step out you start walking in the hallway or the stairs without pushing. When it goes dark, you have to find a button.

Today you can use 360° ceiling mounted PIRs instead. Nobody can hide in the dark which should satisfy the safety aspect.
#27399 - 07/19/03 01:35 AM Re: Stairway lighting in apartment buildings
pauluk Offline
Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
How about some sort of combination system? Maybe some low-power lights (e.g. the little 9W fluorescents) to provide a minimum level of constant illumination and larger lights which come on on buttons or sensors.

I wish we could get government buildings to adopt the same principle though. They're the ones who are always telling us about having to save energy, yet every govt. building I go into has just about all the lights blazing away even in broad daylight.


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