Building Exit Signs and Requirements: Which Exit Sign is the Best?

All exit signs serve the same purpose, but not all exit signs are the same. If your building has had the same exit signage for years, it may be time to implement new signage that offers more safety, better energy efficiency and lower operating cost. Below, we compare the most popular exit signs on the market (incandescent, compact fluorescent, LED, Tritium, and photoluminescent) to assess which one meets requirements best in terms of safety, energy use, and ten-year operating cost.


The safety of building exit signs is defined by their reliability during emergencies. There are two types of emergencies that could render exit signage inoperable: emergencies precipitated by power outages, and emergencies precipitated by explosions and/or falling debris.

In power outages, incandescent, compact fluorescent, and LED signs rely on backup batteries, whereas Tritium signs and photoluminescent signs rely on self-illuminating capsules and photoluminescent material, respectively. Because backup batteries have a history of failure, Tritium and photoluminescent signage are the best types of signage for power outages.

Concerning falling debris and explosions, incandescent, compact fluorescent, LED, and Tritium signs all contain breakable parts that could render them inoperable. Photoluminescent signage, however, contains no breakable parts, and remains functional in the wake of explosions or falling debris.

Energy use

Building exit signs don’t seem like a significant source of energy consumption. But when a building has hundreds of them, the energy they use can quickly add up. According to energy efficiency research, incandescent exit signs operate on 40 Watts, compact fluorescent signs operate on 21 Watts, LED signs operate on 5 Watts, and Tritium and photoluminescent signs are electricity-free.

Although both Tritium and photoluminescent signs are electricity-free, they are not equally environmentally friendly. Photoluminescent signage is non-toxic, but Tritium signage contains radioactive capsules that require special disposal.

Operating cost

Operating cost is the area where exit signs truly display their energy efficiency. According to research, an incandescent sign costs a total of $1,465 to operate over a ten-year period, a compact fluorescent sign costs a total of $894, a LED sign costs a total of $370, a Tritium sign costs a total of $190, and a photoluminescent sign costs a total of $111. The factors that determine an exit sign’s operating cost are: sign cost, installation cost, electric power, lamp cost, lamp replacement labor, battery, battery replacement labor, and disposal cost.

According to research, replacing 100 incandescent building exit signs with photoluminescent ones can save roughly $3,700 a year in energy costs alone.

The importance of luminescent exit signs

Photoluminescent exit signs are superior to other exit signs in three ways: they offer more safety, use less energy, and cost less to operate over the long-term. At Jessup Manufacturing, we have spent the last decade developing luminescent exit signage that offers superior visibility and meets various building exit sign requirements, such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) requirements, and International Fire Code (IFC) requirements, to name a few.

Whether you need to improve your building’s evacuation safety, increase its environmental friendliness, or reduce its electricity usage, implementing building exit signs that contain our patented Glo Brite technology can help.

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