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What Types of Emergency Exit Signs Are There?

Nov 29, 2021
What Types of Emergency Exit Signs Are There?

There are quite a few popular devices to protect your business, such as fire alarms, panic doors and emergency lighting. While fire sprinklers put out fires and some detectors communicate an emergency, exit signs and emergency lights are to guide your employees and visitors to safety in the event of an accident or crisis.


What Is an Emergency Exit Sign?

It is a pictogram in a public space or facility. An exit sign and emergency lighting denote the location of the closest emergency exit. Most relevant safety codes require directional signs throughout the building, including stairwells, corridors and hallways, to be constantly illuminated with emergency backup lights. As a result, anyone with normal vision can see the route to the exit.


What Are the Most Popular Styles of Exit Signs?

Thermoplastic Signs

Thermoplastic is a type of plastic that can tolerate higher temperatures and has a higher melting point. The most common exit and directional signs are made of economical thermoplastic and illuminated with LED lights. These signs are rectangular, and they usually feature red or green letters and white housing. It is possible to mount them from their back, top or side.

The lights inside the sign use less than 5W of electricity and usually have a 5-year life span and warranty. However, you can expect a longer life span. These signs have a strip of LED lights at the bottom or top of the word EXIT.

As a rule, thermoplastic exit signs utilize a battery located onboard during a power outage. There is a button to test the battery. Its lifespan is five years, although it might be shorter depending on the temperature variances.

These signs are the cheapest. That is why it might be more cost-effective to replace than to repair it.

Another reason for picking this type of sign is that they are easily configurable. For instance, you can choose the number of arrows, and usually, there is an extra 'EXIT' face panel that allows double-sided viewing mode.


Edge-lit Signs

These emergency exit signs are the most beautiful. Thus, you can see them in hotels, restaurants, or luxurious businesses. It is a glowing and floating transparent sign. This effect is achieved by a row of LED emergency lights at the top of the panel shooting down.

A reflective strip at the edge accentuates the effect by illuminating the word EXIT. The word EXIT may be a vinyl sticker or etched into the panel.  Sometimes it may be a combination of an etched word and vinyl arrows.

Using stickers allows configuring the signs at the time of installation. Otherwise, the installer has to the locations of each panel beforehand. Note that the pre-etched arrows look much more impressive.

The panels can have either clear lenses, white lenses or mirrored lenses. Edge-lit signs are usually single panelled. If it is necessary to see the sign from both sides, you will need a white panel background or a mirrored lens insert.


Photoluminescent Signs

These signs are among the most cost-effective, reliable, and long-lasting types of the emergency exit sign. These signs use industrial-grade powerful pigments that can glow for over 24 hours after being fully charged.

Photoluminescent devices charge using daylight and the lighting from light fixtures. There is a minimal amount of light (54 lux) that must be present on the face of the sign. Such spaces as offices, hospitals, hotels, libraries, or universities can use photoluminescent devices as they maintain consistent lighting levels allowing the signs to absorb the ambient lighting.

These signs are easy to maintain as they don't use electricity and batteries. Moreover, they are easy to install with the lowest total cost of ownership.


Emergency lighting and exit signs are required in all commercial properties as they specifically aim at saving lives. Whenever there is a power failure, your staff will use the emergency lights to get to safety. Depending on the type of your business property and budget, you can choose one of the following emergency exit signs: thermoplastic, edge-lit or photoluminescent signs.

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