Self Luminous Safety Signs: Photoluminescent versus Tritium Exit Signs

Self luminous exit signage has been around for years, but only in the last decade has it competed with electrical exit signage for use in commercial buildings. Until recently, the technology of glow in the dark safety signage offered poor burn time, poor visibility, or both. But today, glow in the dark exit signs that burn as bright—or brighter—than electrical ones are available in two types, photoluminescent and tritium signs. Below, we examine signs offering the biggest advantage in terms of price, operational cost, maintenance cost, dependability, and eco friendliness.


Tritium and photoluminescent signage is the most expensive exit signage on the market, with an average per unit price of $96 and $100, respectively. The price for either type depends on three factors – seller, sign design, and whether the signs are purchased wholesale or individually. Overall, the tritium signs are the most expensive. Although the average price difference between photoluminescent and tritium signage is minor, it could still add up to thousands of dollars for a company needing hundreds of signs.

Operational Cost

For building owners who need to reduce utility expense, self-luminous safety signs are the obvious choice due to their electricity-free operation. Radioactive tritium capsules power tritium signs. Photoluminescent signs are powered by photoluminescence, occurring when an object absorbs photons and re-radiates them, causing a glow effect.

Maintenance Cost

In addition to being electricity-free, both photoluminescent and tritium signage are also maintenance-free. However, the radioactive capsules that power tritium signage require a $75 disposal fee per sign. Expired photoluminescent signage need only be placed in the appropriate recycling bin.


Because they require no electricity or maintenance, photoluminescent and tritium signs are more dependable than electrical ones, but the former is the most dependable. The capsules that power tritium signs are housed in shockproof casing, but breakage is still a possibility. Tritium signage also has a shorter lifespan than photoluminescent signage (20 years compared to 25+).

Eco Friendliness

Due to its radioactive capsules, tritium sings are perhaps the least eco friendly exit signage on the market. They do not contribute to carbon pollution, as electrical signage does, but their spent capsules must be placed somewhere for safe disposal, and it is not in a recycling bin.


Tritium and photoluminescent signage are similar in several important ways: they cost nothing to operate, nothing to maintain, both contribute to lower utility bills, and both offer more dependability than electrical signage. However, tritium signage’s containment of radioactive material, higher average purchase price, and $75 per sign disposal fee makes it less eco friendly and more expensive than photoluminescent signage.

At Glo-Brite, we offer several types of photoluminescent self luminous safety signs in several price ranges. In addition to meeting important code specifications, our signs are powered by our patented Glo-Brite technology, delivering superior visibility at a hundred feet, and burns for up to ninety-six hours without requiring ambient light. To learn more about how luminescent exit signage can improve the safety of your building’s egress system, call us today.

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