For many building owners, the quality of their building’s exit signs is a non-issue, and it’s easy to see why. Although exit signs are placed in buildings to guide building occupants to safety in the event of low visibility evacuations, their daily reality is identifying exits that would be easy to locate anyway. However, as some building owners find out the hard way following fire evacuations, the type of exit signs a building has is indeed important, and can mean the difference between evacuations that run smoothly and evacuations that result in casualties.
Today, there are five basic types of emergency exit signs: incandescent, compact fluorescent, LED, photoluminescent, and Tritium. Most U.S. commercial and residential R1 buildings contain incandescent signs, followed by incandescent signs and LED signs. However, when improved building safety defines what type of signs are implemented, electricity-free, maintenance-free glow in the dark exit signs (i.e. photoluminescent and Tritium sings) are the optimal choice, both in terms of reliability and overall cost, with photoluminescent signs are the superior sign.
Like photoluminescent signs, Tritium glow in the dark exit signs require no maintenance or electricity. But they do contain radioactive capsules that require a special $75 disposal fee unless a used Tritium sign is returned to the manufacturer under an agreement to purchase a new Tritium sign. Although the cost of operating exit signs is negligible for some buildings, large commercial and residential R1 buildings can thousands on annual utility cost depending on what type of signs they implement. For example, replacing 100 incandescent signs with photoluminescent signs results in roughly $3,700 saved energy dollars annually.