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#64 - Emergency Exit Signs: Regulations and Types

Posted by Jason Hugo and Anna Hartenbach on 5/26/2017 to Emergency Exit Signs and Lights
Picture this: You’re in a new building for the first time when disaster strikes and the power goes out. Unfamiliar with the building’s layout, you wander the halls in hopes of finding the exit. As the darkness permeates your field of vision, you use your hands to feel your way along the walls in hopes of a door.

What key, potentially life-saving component went unmentioned in that scenario?

The exit sign! We use them in daily life as a guide towards stairwells and exits. However, the true purpose of emergency exit signs and lights is for emergency scenarios like the one presented above. 

In this article, we’ll focus on what you should look for when selecting the appropriate signage for your facility to meet current national and state regulations, as well as key factors to illuminate your search. We’ll talk about the three types of emergency exit signs and lights: LED Exit Light, LED Combo Exit Emergency Light, and the Dual Head Emergency Light. 

Not what you’re looking for or already know what emergency exit light you want? Feel free to click here to view our selection of emergency exit lights and signs.

Confusing Exit Sign
Not sure about you, but this exit sign looks a bit confusing. (Photo Credit: Image Source)

Emergency Exit Requirements

The Nation Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are among the many regulatory agencies that set that standards for emergency lighting and exit sign requirements. However, companies must also look to their own state and local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ). The AHJ can be any person or group responsible for local building and/or fire codes. 

According to OSHA standards, doors along all exit routes must be clearly marked so that they are unobstructed and visible to employees with normal vision. Areas leading to the exit, the exit itself, and the area outside of the exit must be well lit. In most cases, at least two emergency exits are required in a building. The standard measurement for light is still measured in footcandles, where one footcandle is approximately one lumen per square foot. To ensure visibility in subpar conditions, exit signs must be illuminated “to a surface value of at least 5-foot candles by reliable light source,” per OSHA standards. A footcandle is equal to one lumen per square foot. 

NFPA goes more in-depth on the illumination requirements for exit signs and lights in their life safety code, or NFPA 101
  • All signs must be illuminated by a reliable source of light, whether internally or externally. Signs with internal illumination must comply with the standards of UL 924.
  • Emergency exit signs and lights must be reliably lit to provide at least 1.5 hours of light in the case of an emergency where the building’s lights fail.
  • Throughout the exit route, emergency lighting should provide illumination at no less than 1 footcandle (10 lux) at the source and no less than .1 footcandle (1 lx) at floor level. As the source begins to lose power, it should decline at an average of .6 footcandle and a minimum of .06 footcandle at the end of the emergency.
  • Any time battery-operated lights are used with rechargeable batteries, the batteries must comply with NFPA 70. 
The NFPA also sets requirements regarding the testing of emergency lights. It employs both monthly and yearly test, the former being a 30-second activation and the latter a 1.5 hour illumination to simulate an emergency scenario. 

What is a UL 924 exit sign and when is it necessary?

UL 924 exit signs are those that are either electric or photo luminescent. To be considered as such, they must meet the standards set forth by OSHA and NFPA as well as the International Builders Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC). Any time a sign is placed over a door that opens outside, it must be UL 924.

Why Choose a LED Exit Light?

Exit Sign

LED exit lights, as discussed above, serve to illuminate the path to an exit during an emergency. First and foremost, LED exit signs meet the rules and regulations of both OSHA and NFPA. LED lights are a great choice because they can emit brighter light and consume much less energy than traditional incandescent lights (1.5 watts for single face signs and 5 watts for edge-lit double face units compared to 40 watts for incandescent). Furthermore, they last longer – most are guaranteed for 5 years but can last 10 – 25. Sounds like a win win choice!

Our DLR Slimline LED Exit differs from its peers, as it boasts rounded edges for a sleeker look. It offers dual 120/277 voltage and an internal solid-state transfer switch that can automatically connect to the internal battery. The two-rate charger can recharge a discharged battery every 24 hours. It’s UL-listed for damp locations and meets UL 924, NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, NEC, OSHA, local and state codes.

LED Combo Exit Emergency Light

Combo Exit Sign and Light

LED combo exit emergency lights offer all of the benefits of a LED exit sign and an emergency light in one, convenient fixture. Its dual capabilities replace the need for separate units and reduce installation time. These combination units are suitable for illuminating exit routes in accordance with NFPA regulations. 

Our SCLD LED dual head exit/emergency combo light features the same dual 120/277 voltage as the LED exit light listed above. It’s ultra-bright lamp heads are adjustable for a wide range of motion and optimal center-to-center spacing. It has a 9.6V long-life maintenance free, rechargeable NiCd battery with a two-rate charger that can recharge a discharged battery in 24 hours. It is UL listed for damp locations and meets UL 924, NFPA, OSHA, NEC, local and state codes.

Dual Head LED Emergency Light

LED Emergency Lights

Emergency lighting systems are just as important as illuminated exit signs. Their purpose is to light the path to the exit, the exit itself, and the area outside of the exit to ensure building occupants can safely find their way out of the building. They must immediately (within 10 second) turn on in a power outage or emergency situation. 

Our DLM LED emergency lights also work in with either 120/277 voltage systems. It’s suitable for wall or ceiling mounting and features a quick-connect back plate for surface mounting. It comes equipped with self-diagnostic testing capabilities for monthly, biannual, and annual testing. It is UL listed for damp locations and meets UL 924, NFPA, OSHA, NEC, local and state codes.

Red vs. Green

Many companies sell green and red exit signs so how do you know what you need? The NFPA and OSHA do not set regulations as to the color of exit signs, but rather leave it to local and state authorities to determine. Throughout most of the United States, red or green exit signs are permissible or determined at the local level. Some states may recommend one color over the other, but very few actually require a specific color be used. To ensure you’re in accordance with local and state authorities, start by checking with your local fire marshal before any major renovations or site-updates.

Why choose QRFS?

So now that you’ve come to understand how pertinent exit signs and lighting are to your business, don’t wait until you’re faced with an emergency to begin thinking about your exit strategy. At QRFS, we’re here to help you find the solutions you need to fit your business. 


LED Exit Sign
  • Rounded edges for a softer, sleeker design
  • Long-lasting and rechargeable NiCD battery (included)
  • Battery powers sign for a minimum of 90 minutes, recharges automatically within 24 hours
  • Dual 120/277 voltage
  • EZ-snap mounting canopy
LED Combo Exit Sign and LightsLED Dual Head Exit Emergency Light Combo | Simkar SCLD2RW
  • Dual, adjustable, ultra-bright LED bulbs
  • Rechargeable NiCD batter and self-diagnostic testing feature
  • Battery powers sign for a minimum of 90 minutes, recharges automatically within 24 hours
  • Charge rate and power ON LED indicator
  • Dual 120/277 voltage
  • EZ-snap mounting canopy
LED LightsLED Emergency Light - Remote Capable | Simkar DLMWRC 
  • Long-lasting, ultra-bright LED bulbs
  • Remote capable
  • Rechargeable NiCD battery
  • Battery powers lights for a minimum of 90 minutes, recharges automatically within 24 hours
  • Charge rate and power ON indicator 
  • Quick connect back plate for easy mounting
  • Dual voltage 120/277 
While our selection of emergency signs and lighting are good, our pricing, delivery, and service are better. Still have questions before you make a purchase with us? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them!
This blog was originally posted by Jason Hugo and Anna Hartenbach at QRFS.com/blog on May 26, 2017. If your thoughts on Exit signs and lighting were "illuminated" after reading this, check us out at Facebook.com/QuickResponseFireSupply or on Twitter @QuickResponseFS.

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