Zero Energy Building Solution: Comparing the Cost Effectiveness of Exit Signs

When companies plan to reduce utility expense, they often target interior lighting, HVAC systems, and other large systems. But altering small systems can impact utility expense, sometimes to a zero energy basis. For example, switching a building exit sign system from electrical sings to luminescent signs can slash electricity expense. Though not an obvious cost saving solution, implementing self luminous exit signs can have a marked impact on a company’s annual utility bill, especially if it has a large number of exit signs.

A ten-year cost analysis of exit signs

Today, commercial and large residential buildings around the world contain five types of exit signage: incandescent, compact fluorescent, LED, Tritium, and photoluminescent signage. Below, we examine the cost effectiveness of each type on a 10-year basis.


Incandescent signs are the oldest exit signs on the market, and their poor energy efficiency shows it. Over a 10-year period, an incandescent sign costs roughly $1,465 for purchase price, installation cost, electricity use, and maintenance cost. Add in the fact that electrical signage could malfunction due to explosions, falling debris, structural shock, or inadequate maintenance, and incandescent signage should be avoided whenever possible.

Compact fluorescent

Compact fluorescent signs are newer than incandescent signs, and they have better energy efficiency. Though not a zero energy building solution, its 10-year cost of roughly $894 for purchase price, installation cost, electricity use, and maintenance makes compact fluorescent signage a significant improvement over incandescent signage. In terms of dependability during emergencies, however, it ranks no better than incandescent signage.


Just as compact fluorescent signs are an improvement over incandescent ones, LED signs are an improvement over compact fluorescent ones. With a 10-year cost of $370 for purchase price, installation cost, electricity use, and maintenance, an LED sign is as inexpensive as electrical exit signage gets. But it has the same dependability issues as costlier signs, and some LED signs are designed to switch off when only one LED bulb fails.


A zero energy building solution, a Tritium sign costs roughly $190 over a 10-year period for purchase price, installation cost, and disposal cost. Tritium signs are electricity-free and maintenance-free, but the radioactive capsules that power them pose a danger to the environment. These capsules result in a $75 disposal fee per sign, a fee that is waived if you agree to buy more Tritium signs.


Another zero energy building solution, a photoluminescent sign costs roughly $111 over a 10-year period for purchase price and installation. Unlike Tritium signage, photoluminescent signage is non-toxic and 100% recyclable. It is also the most durable signage in the event of explosions, falling debris, and structural shock.

GloBrite has the signage you need

Our patented GloBrite technology supplies our photoluminescent exit signage, egress markings, and building safety signage with superior visibility at 100 feet, and a burn time of up to 96 hours in total darkness. To learn more about how luminescent exit signage and egress safety products can benefit your unique building, call us today.

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