Glowing Exit Signs: Comparing Photoluminescent and Tritium Signs

There are two types of exit signage: signage that is powered by electricity and self-illuminating signage that glows. Now more than ever, glowing signage is preferred to electrical signage – a shift that reflects the improvement of photoluminescent and tritium safety technologies. For the past decade, the debate about which of these technologies is best has focused on what any building owner needs to know about an exit sign: how much it costs to purchase and operate, how safe it is for building occupants, how it performs during low visibility, and how it affects the environment. When photoluminescent and tritium signs are compared in these areas, the former emerges as the optimal choice.

Cost of Purchase and Operation

The average purchase price for a photoluminescent exit sign is just over $100. The same is true for a tritium sign. But tritium signage is ultimately more expensive to operate than its photoluminescent counterpart. Once it expires, tritium signage requires a $75 disposal fee due to the radioactive capsules it contains. A fee almost certainly likely to go up by the time these signs need replacement. Some makers of tritium signage waive this fee if the customer replaces the old tritium signs with new ones – an arrangement that can force building owners to buy more tritium signage, when they would rather implement other glowing exit signs.

Safety of Building Occupants

Photoluminescent signage is 100% non-toxic. But tritium signage contains radioactive capsules that could pose a health risk, if they rupture. These capsules are housed in a shock proof casing, making them difficult to break. But they are not impossible to break. Although the level of radioactive exposure that would result from a broken tritium capsule would be minimal, the best idea is to eliminate the potential for that exposure by applying non-radioactive exit signage.

Performance during Low Visibility

The best glowing exit signs offer excellent visibility at 100 feet during low visibility. Photoluminescent signs can be engineered to offer this visibility, and so can tritium signs. Regarding performance during low visibility, tritium and photoluminescent signs are essentially equal.

Environmental Impact

As their $75 disposal fee would suggest, tritium signage is not environmentally safe. Although makers of tritium signage frequently mention that the level of radioactivity contained in a single sign doesn’t pose a threat, the level of radioactivity comprised by all tritium signs does. Instead of requiring a special disposal process, a photoluminescent sign can be placed in a recycling bin once its lifespan of 25 years, or more, expires.

GloBrite has the Luminescent Signage Your Building Needs

At Globrite, we supply glowing exit signs, self luminous evacuation signs, and glowing egress markings that improve egress safety during low visibility. Each of our products is powered with our patented Globrite technology that delivers superior burn time (up to 96 hours in total darkness) and excellent visibility.

Although tritium exit signs are better than electrical exit signs in several ways, they are not better than photoluminescent signs in terms of cost, building safety, or environmental impact. To learn what type of photoluminescent safety implements are right for your building, call us today.

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