Comparing Tritium Emergency Signs with Photoluminescent Emergency Signs

Traditionally, emergency exit signs have typically been lit using electricity, in combination with incandescent light bulbs. Due to the expense, limitations, and even dangers involved when using an electrical installation, there are now two options for implementing new, more advanced exit signs: Tritium and Photoluminescent exit signs. The two emergency exit sign technologies are quite different in their approach to providing a safe evacuation experience, though they share at least one characteristic – they do not need to be wired into an electrical source or in order to operate.


Tritium and photoluminescent are the most common forms of self-luminous signage available. While both allow improved visibility regarding egress signage without electricity, they are quite different in other aspects. Tritium signs use a radioactive hydrogen isotope and phosphor coating to generate light as the beta decay process occurs. Photoluminescent, the latest and most ecofriendly self-luminous option, uses a pigment to create a film that covers the signs metal substrate. This film absorbs ambient light from surrounding building sources and natural resources. The energy remains stored within the film until a structure becomes dark and is then released as a green glow for long periods.

While Tritium exit signs are supposedly safe, there has been plenty of evidence to prove otherwise. The particles remain harmless as long as they are contained, but pose a significant environmental and health problem if allowed to escape from their housing tubes. These radioactive hydrogen isotopes can mix with additional particles in the atmosphere to form “tritiated water,” which can be absorbed and ingested by humans and animals. It also poses an environmental risk if a sign breaks and the tritiated water is absorbed into the soil or a water source.

Tritium exit signs require a higher purchasing cost, as well as special handling. Photoluminescent exit signs have several benefits when compared to Tritium, including zero energy usage, simple installation, low maintenance and fees, environmentally safe, no toxicity, and guaranteed dependable visibility. The film used for photoluminescent exit signs removes radioactive materials and makes the identifiers completely recyclable and ecofriendly. These factors also eliminate the worry of meeting government restrictions. An average lifespan of twenty-five years, combined with a lower purchasing cost than Tritium makes photoluminescent exit signs the best choice for compliance.

For more information on Tritium and photoluminescent exit signs, contact GloBrite Systems. GloBrite can help you make the most educated decision between the two exit signs products that will best fit your needs.

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