Are Glow in the Dark Exit Signs Code Compliant?
When the power goes out in your building the emergency signage and pathways light up the way to safety.
Unfortunately, a large majority of older buildings are outfitted with electrical exit signs, meaning they need batteries to continue illuminating in a power outage. This is not the most eco-friendly option, and also cost prohibitive. Luckily, there are self-illuminating options available on the market for those looking to save money, go green, and keep their building occupants safe during emergencies.
Many new construction and older buildings have been looking into alternative options that don’t need to be connected to power supply or use batteries. The most popular option on the market is photoluminescent exit signs and egress systems. But what is this technology and is it code compliant?
Understanding Glow in the Dark Exit Signs
Photoluminescent exit signs are famously known as the glow in the dark exit signs. They require no electricity or batteries, which is why The U.S. Department of Energy calls them “the most energy-efficient exit sign available today.” Because no power is ever consumed that means your electricity bill for all your exit signage will be zero- forever.
This technology is available for exit signage and egress systems. The product takes in ambient light and stores that energy for later use. When darkness hits, photoluminescent exit signs and egress systems become immediately visible for up to 18 hours in many cases.
Another bonus is that because no electricity is required, installation is simple. Building managers can install them on their own, just mounting to the desired location. Maintenance throughout their 25 year+ lifespan is dusting and keeping them free of debris.
Code Compliant Fire Safety Signage
Both main regulating authorities, the NFPA 101 and IBC, do not go into detail when discussing glow in the dark exit sign requirements. The testing and listing authorities UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratory) and ASTM International (ASTM) are deferred to. As long as egress markers and exit signs meet the necessary performance standards, glow in the dark fire safety signage passes NFPA 101 and IBC requirements. However, local laws may have their own regulations so check with your fire marshal.
To go into more detail, both the IBC and NFPA 101 require exit signs to be listed under UL 924: Standard for Emergency Lighting and Power Equipment. As long as your photoluminescent exit sign meets these requirements, carries the proper UL 924 listing, and is installed to regulations they qualify as a building emergency exit sign.
From the 2018 edition of the International Building Code:
1013.5 Internally illuminated exit signs. Electrically powered, self-luminous and photoluminescent exit signs shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 924 and shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and Chapter 27. Exit signs shall be illuminated at all times.
Proper Lighting Levels for Glow in the Dark Exit Signs
Remember above when it was mentioned the technology of these exit signs is to take ambient light and store it? Therefore, you have to consider your lighting levels in the areas you intend to use your photoluminescent fire safety signage.
NFPA 101 specifies the following:
188.8.131.52* Photoluminescent Signs. The face of a photoluminescent sign shall be continually illuminated while the building is occupied. The illumination levels on the face of the photoluminescent sign shall be in accordance with its listing. The charging illumination shall be a reliable light source, as determined by the authority having jurisdiction. The charging light source shall be of a type specified in the product markings.
Shop UL 924 Glow in the Dark Exit Signs
Jessup Manufacturing is a leader in photoluminescent products. With decades of experience, we have outfitted thousands of buildings with eco-friendly photoluminescent exit signs and egress systems, eliminating the need for electricity with their fire safety signage. Shop our wide variety of glow in the dark signage and egress today.