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Frequently Asked Questions

 Exit Signs

Q. When can we use a non-glow sign?

A.
Emergency egress signs must be illuminated, as their sole purpose is to guide the path to safety in case of fire or a blackout situation. You must use glowing Exit signs to meet codes and standards, especially UL 924 regulations.

In addition to your glowing Exit sign system, it is highly recommended to use glowing text for other instructional safety signs that are vital in an emergency situation.

Q. I work for a public library. Does my library (or any public space) require Braille Exit signs?

A.
The ADA requires that Braille tactile signs be included in all new buildings, but every Exit does not require Braille signs. In some states, religious institutions and private clubs are not regulated by accessibility standards. Federal guidelines do not impose any restrictions on these private organizations.

However, more and more signs are now ordered with Braille, and varies slightly state-by-state. Certain states have laws that require religious buildings and private clubs to comply with accessibility standards. Most religious institutions want to be as welcoming as they can, and they are usually ahead of the crowd in providing ADA compliant restrooms, signs, and entrances.

Since you work in a public institution, you will need Braille accompanying your Exit sign. Raised Braille characters must be at least 5/8" (16mm) high, but no higher than 2" (50mm).

Q. Should I install green or red Exit signs for my establishment? Does it matter?

A.
These color choices are based on building codes that vary state-by-state. Most U.S. states require the color red; however, parts of California, Oregon, Washington State, Colorado and International codes require green signage. We offer both options to accommodate the needs of your state. Take a look at our state-by-state information, and call your local fire marshal for a personal, local recommendation.

Q. Should we mount signs with tape, screws, or both?

A.
Whatever you do, don't rely solely on tape. To meet building codes, your sign must have at least two wall-mount screws, only one of which can be keyhole-shaped. We recommend using four tamper-proof holes for the safest, sturdiest mount, and adhesive backing is great for initial positioning. Our signs include four pre-drilled holes, for a better hold and increased tamper resistance.

Q. Do these Exit Sign comply with NFPA Life Safety Code? Do they have to be UL924 qualified, too?

A.
NFPA 101 (Life Safety Code) compliance involves not only the type of sign, but the way it is installed and its precise location. All of our Exit Signs will already have the UL 924 seal on it, which is determined at the point of manufacture.

NFPA-recommended graphic symbols, such as the running man graphic, are helpful additions to your UL924 signage. However, NFPA regulations are merely recommendations, and it is up to your fire marshal to enforce them. While NFPA 101-compliant signs are not required, they are widely and increasingly used across the country to communicate vital, universal instructions.

We offer a number of glowing and non-glowing graphic signs that reach across language barriers, provide vital instructions and save time in an emergency situations.

Q. How tall should the EXIT letters be?

A.
EXIT letters should be no less than 6" high (8" in New York) with a 3/4" stroke (letter thickness). We offer Exit signs with both 6" and 8" lettering to comply with your state codes and regulations.

Q. When do you use a bi-directional EXIT sign?

A.
Use a bi-directional EXIT sign if your facility has more than one exit path. Use arrows to point to each exit from a centrally-located sign; otherwise, a unidirectional sign will point to your single exit.

Here's an example: imagine you are in a T-shaped hallway, where one exit path is 20 feet away and another exit path is 40 feet away. Your Exit sign should point to both possible Exits, in the case that one is blocked during an emergency.

Even though one Exit is closer than the other, it is vital to mark both Exits for a dire emergency situation. This is when you need to use a bi-directional Exit sign.

Q. Should I mount an Exit sign in our bathrooms?

A.
For more information, read our FAQ for Bathroom Signs installation and requirements.

Q. Are your signs approved for Canada, too? How are the regulations different?

A.
Yes, our signs are approved in Canada.

Canadian regulations are the same as U.S. regulations. You will find the Canadian code titled "ULC" instead of "UL;" however, the U.S. and Canadian regulations do not differ.

Q. What is meant by an "Edge Lit" exit sign?

A.
An edge-lit sign has illuminated edges, and this feature is typically found on electric LED signs. Photoluminescent signs are not edge-lit, since it is not required locally or statewide in the U.S.

Edge-lit signs are not as durable as solid acrylic signs, for example; however, they do provide additional directional light sources and add a contemporary look to many Exit signs.

Q. What types of Exit signs work best in wet areas or in food preparation areas?

A.
Photoluminescent signs will shine brightly for more than 20 years. As previously mentioned, a dirty environment will compromise the ability of the photoluminescent pigment to absorb and store light. If your establishment gets dirty, we recommend that you wipe your photoluminescent signs regularly to achieve maximum illumination in an emergency.

As an alternative, Tritium signs will require no additional source of electricity, and soil will not affect its luminescence as severely.

Q. When should I use a bilingual Exit sign?

A.
You can use a bilingual or Spanish Exit sign wherever you feel that your environment can benefit from it. There is no regulation as far as federal or state laws that require the use of bilingual signs, but you have to consider the people who will use the facilities when deciding whether or not to use a bilingual sign. Is another language the primary conversational language of employees or visitors?

Are there bilingual schools in the neighborhood? In these cases, you will want to consider using a bilingual sign.

If you choose a biligual Exit sign, always take language equality into consideration. You want to be sure that the bilingual signs you order do not feature one language much larger than the other, or that they present drastically different messages. While different fonts, colors, and terms will make your sign more effective, the goal is to make both languages equally helpful and never a hindrance to its readers.

Q. What does it mean when an exit sign is called "self-luminous"? Is this radioactive?

A.
Self-luminuous signage typically refers to Tritium signs, which is a radioactive material that is a viable light source. Tritium signs may not require an internal power source, but they do require radioactive disposal when you no longer need them.

Our photoluminescent signs use Safety-Grade Strontium Oxide, which is not radioactive and is safe to use anywhere.

Q. When is a Braille sign needed?

A.
The ADA requires that Braille tactile signs be included by stairwell doors. Raised characters must be at east 5/8" (16mm) high, but no higher than 2" (50mm). Pictograms must be accompanied by a verbal description placed directly below the pictogram. The border dimension of the pictogram must be a minimum of 6" in height.

Q. When do I need to install a No Exit sign?

A.
Doors that are neither exits nor egress pathways, but may appear as though they are safe exits must be identified as "NO Exit," according to Section 7.10.8.3 of the Life Safety Code. The code requires the word, "NO" to be 2 inches (5 cm) high and the word "EXIT" to be 1 inch (2.5 cm) high so that the occupants will not focus on the word "exit."

These doors may also be labeled to avoid the potential for confusion. For example, a door to a storage room could be label "Storage Closet" so that people know that it's not an exit.

Q. Can we install too many exit signs? At one of our facilities, I could spot over six different exit signs, each pointing to a different door at the end of the hallways.

A.
In any case, common sense must be used when choosing where to put an Exit Sign. While your fire marshal will have a very specific recommendation, you can also ask yourself: are there redundant signs? Can multiple signs be seen from the same viewing angle? Ultimately, your job is to get people out as quickly as possible, but you don't want to buy more signs than you need, either. A good rule of thumb is to stand at any point in your facility and ask yourself, "can I see a sign that points toward an exit?" If you see more than one exit sign -- it doesn't hurt anyone!

Q. What is the best type of exit sign for low-level mounting?

A.
Most buildings do not have readily available power sources where low-level exit signs need to be installed. Moreover, these low-level signs need to be durable. They are kicked, carts run into them, and they are often subjected to water and cleaning agents.

Since low-level mounts are required along the entirety of your egress exit paths, it would be incredibly expensive to install the LED electric system down your entire stairwell. Unlike the dated Tritium self-luminating signs, photoluminscent signs will emit no radioactivity if kicked or mishandled. Photoluminescent signs offer the most dependable, durable, and inexpensive choice for low-level and egress Exit path systems.

Q. Why should we mount our exit signs at low level? Have the rules changed recently?

A.
Yes, many Fire marshals are requiring low-level Exit signs in addition to your high-level signs. Recent standards have changed, explicitly, in many states, such as Connecticut and New York, and we believe that low level mounting will soon become the norm.

The reasons for low level mounting are obvious. Smoke rises and too often obscures an-above-the-door exit sign. Sophisticated building managers insist on egress markings near the floor. This can dramatically increase the chances of everyone leaving the building safely, and is just good common sense, on top of it being required in many states and municipalities.

Q. Why don’t you include power cords with your LED exit signs?

A.
Exit Signs are wired internally, inside of your wall. They are always plugged in. Power cords for home use only.

Q. Is it true that my Exit Signs have to be wired on their own, individual circuits? I am guessing that will be costly.

A.
Generally, yes, this is true. And, as you have guessed, this could mean some serious electrical work. For this reason, we see many building owners, when faced with various retrofit options are now buying photoluminescent signs. They require no wiring.

Q. When should I use an aluminum or an adhesive sign? Which might last longer?

A.
UL924 exit signs need to be mechanically fastened to the wall or ceiling – so that generally means aluminum. Other egress markers can be aluminum, plastic or adhesive pressure-sensitive. The issue of longevity really depends on the environment. Inferior signs will start to chalk or fade if exposed to sunlight, water or other chemicals. See this example (and here show the photo below) of a competitor’s sign. Also, adhesive signs tend to “flag” more often. This happens at the corner of a sign and the sign starts to “lift- off”. Generally, our signs are laminated (to protect the graphics), use an exceptionally durable ink and have an aggressive adhesive that resists flagging.

Q. How often do I need to check my battery?

A.
You generally need to check your battery every six months. Checking your battery vital -- at the World Trade Center, the fire department determined that over 70% of their batteries did not work properly (in other words, they could not light a sign for 90+ minutes). Checking your Exit Sign batteries are just as important as your fire alarms, so add it to your schedule!

Q. How much light is needed to "charge" a Photoluminescent Exit Sign?

A.
Only 5 ft. candles are needed for a photoluminescent exit sign to glow properly. If you are not familiar with candle ratings -- that's almost too dark for you to see in! Most hallways have 25-30 fi candles of light when the lights are on.

Generally, photoluminescent signs absorb most effectively from flourescent light and natural light.

 Photoluminescent Exit Signs

Q. Can a Photoluminescent Exit sign really last up to 20 years?

A.
The photoluminescent pigment will store and emit light for the entire life of your sign. However, a dirty environment will decrease the overall life of your sign and its overall brightness. If you keep your Exit sign clean and avoid wear-and-tear, it can last for 20 years or more.

Remember, photoluminescent signs are only as bright as the light they are able to absorb. If the sign is dirty, it will absorb less light and decrease in brightness over time.

Q. When should I use a sign that is rated at 50' of 100' visibility?

A.
Signs that are rated for greater distances than 50 feet are generally reserved for large spaces or exceptionally long hallways, since two 50' signs would be enough for a 100' long room. Since the standard visibility rating is 50 feet, most customers stick with the standard.

Given the configurations of 75' and 100' visibility signs, they are rarely used or recommended.

Q. Should I use a sign with a glowing background or glowing letters?

A.
While a glowing background will create an illuminated halo around the sign, glowing letters produce the same effect and are just as visible as glowing background signs.

Glowing letters are also more legible in the dark, and draw attention to the wording and directionals than background-glowing signs.

Q. What do you think of the lower-cost LED signs from China? Can they be used for low-level mounting?

A.
Today, LED and Photoluminescent signs fulfill very different needs. While the costs of each can vary significantly, photoluminescent signs will cost less to install and operate, will last longer, and are better suited for low-level mounting.

Why are photoluminescent signs better for low-level mounting? Since low-level mounts are required along the entirety of your egress exit paths, it would be incredibly expensive to install the LED electric system down your entire stairwell. Unlike the dated Tritium self-luminating signs, photoluminscent signs will emit no radioactivity if kicked or mishandled. Photoluminescent signs offer the most dependable, durable, and inexpensive choice for low-level and egress Exit path systems.

Q. How can Photoluminscent Exit signs help with our LEED certification (as a green building)?

A.
Photoluminescent signs contribute to these three LEED standards: EA Credit #1 – Energy and Atmosphere: Optimizing Energy Performance MR Credit #4 – Materials and Resources: Recycled Content ID Credit #1.1 – Innovation in Design: Exceptional Performance Since photoluminescent signs do not require an internal electric source and absorb the light that surrounds them, they are inevitably a "green" option for your establishment.

Q. When should I use a flag-mount versus a flat-mount Exit sign or a two-sided Exit sign?

A.
This depends on the needs of your environment. A two-sided Exit sign is designed for centrally located installation in hallways or large rooms, so that the sign can be seen from almost every part of the space. A flat-mount is made to mount directly above doors, or on a wall that can point visitors toward an exit path. A flag-mount sign is also used in long hallways to point visitors toward an exit, although it is not usually posted close to the Exit itself.

Q. Do photoluminescent signs require 24 hour lighting for activation? Doesn't that add to their costs?

A.
Photoluminescent signs do not require 24-hour lighting, but state codes requires that lights be on at all times when the building is occupied. The signs themselves only require a few minutes of light exposure to operate in darkness.

Since you should already have your lights on during operating hours, this should not add to the total cost of ownership.

Q. Should fire extinguisher location signs use a photoluminescent material?

A.
While it is not required, it is recommended that all safety equipment use photoluminescent safety signs in case of a blackout emergency. Go ahead! Take a look at some glow-in-the-dark fire extinguisher signs glowing fire extinguisher signs and make the most of your safety equipment by lighting the way for everyone.

Remember: in an emergency, seconds count. Photoluminescent safety signs are an inexpensive way to highlight safety equipment for a fast and effective emergency safety system. Don't take your fire extinguisher equipment for granted!

Q. How you charge a Photoluminescent Exit sign?

A.
Some kinds of light are absorbed into the pigment better than others. Typically, flourescent, mercury vapor, and natural sunlight charges the best. The pigment absorbs light along the UV spectrum, which is offered in abundance by these kinds of lighting. Sodium and Incandescent lights will not work well with photoluminescent pigments.

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