As regulated by the 2005 and 2008 editions of the NEC, most standard emergency egress lighting is supplied by individual, emergency-specific luminaires with connected battery backups. In situations of power loss, emergency lighting is powered by the battery. With each luminaire individually powered, each lamp and battery must be tested independently, which can be complicated. When not maintained properly, these luminaires can prove unreliable. Alternative designs, while eliminating the battery packs, require emergency lighting to be on continuously, even while regular lighting is functional. This unnecessary power use is both expensive and impractical.

The use of automatic load control relays (ALCRs) is an option to consider when designing an efficient emergency egress lighting control strategy. ALCRs automatically bypass control devices to the emergency lighting power source, eliminating the need for individual battery power per device as well as 24/7 lighting, dramatically reducing maintenance time.

The use of ALCRs has also been shown to lower operational costs, as the devices enable facility personnel to use existing fixtures for emergency use, thus reducing the number of redundant fixtures and removing specialized fixtures entirely. ALCRs also allow emergency lighting controls to use scheduling, occupancy sensors, and switches, which offer greater control of overall lighting, energy usage, and aesthetics.