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  4. > Photoluminescent Exit Signs: Frequently Asked Questions

Photoluminescent Exit Signs: Frequently Asked Questions

Photoluminescent signs are a category of signs made using a material that allows them to glow in the dark. This material absorbs natural or ambient light through photoluminescence, which is stored and facilitates the glow effect in the dark.
These signs prove extremely effective during blackouts and emergencies as these don’t need electricity to function. An external light source can charge photoluminescent signs in about 60 minutes. Once charged, these signs can usually glow for at least 90 minutes.
Photoluminescent signs and markings are crucial for exits, handrails, landings, safe movement areas, obstacles, and more. The requirements for these signs vary according to building size, type, ADA considerations, etc. They are covered under NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, International Building Code, International Fire Code, UL 924 , and state and local codes. State codes and local jurisdiction requirements usually vary across locations, and it is recommended to check with the relevant authorities to ensure appropriate compliance.
According to IBC, exit signs shall be internally or externally illuminated except where tactile signs are used. The specifications for internally and externally illuminated signs vary and can be found in the code. With respect to photoluminescent exit signs, the IBC section 1013 requires these to be listed and labeled as per UL 924 . Such signs shall be installed as per the instructions provided by the manufacturer as well as Chapter 27 of the code.
Exit signs shall be illuminated at all times as per IBC. Therefore, it requires the use of emergency power systems such as batteries, unit equipment, or on-site generators to ensure unobstructed sign visibility.
Photoluminescent exit signs are an extremely important safety device during an emergency. These improve the egress path-marking system of buildings and guide the occupants to the right exit. These signs do not depend on electricity and make evacuation possible and smoother in a power outage. Additionally, these signs may even be a regulatory requirement in certain situations and specific jurisdictions.
Photoluminescent signs pack many benefits. Given that these are not electricity-based but absorb ambient light, these signs save you the costs associated with professional help for installation, battery replacement, and monthly billing. Non-dependency on direct electricity supply also makes these signs more reliable in an emergency. These can provide illumination even in a smoke-filled environment.
Additionally, these signs are often more long-lasting than LED, incandescent, and tritium signs and require very little to no maintenance. These charge up in about 60 minutes and don’t really have any breakable parts. Glow-in-the-dark signs purchased from a reliable source are code compliant and can help you ensure your facility meets all applicable safety standards.
Also, these signs present a greener alternative to their electricity-powered counterparts, contribute significantly towards reducing your building’s carbon footprint, and thus, help you qualify for LEED credits.
Photoluminescent exit signs do not require AC, electrical power, or battery but require natural or ambient light stored and used to provide illumination. This requires 54 lux or 5-foot candles of mercury vapor, metal halide, fluorescent lighting, and LED Lighting for charging the signs via photoluminescence.
Upon being fully charged, the signs provide bright illumination for a minimum of 90 minutes and take about 16-96 hours in darkness to fully discharge.
Photoluminescent signs often prove a better investment than electric exit signs . These are comparatively easier to install as there is no need to provide any power source. Most of these can be easily mounted with screws or with the help of a canopy, which does not require any external professional help.
While electric signs incur costs associated with billing and maintenance, photoluminescent signs are primarily a one-time investment. These are also less prone to damage as no such parts can break or get damaged due to water, smoke, etc., during any emergency.
These signs are environmentally friendly and a more dependable safety device than their electric counterparts that can fail during a blackout.
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