• Please to View Article

    Exit Signs

    By Mark Conroy


    Introduction

    In commercial and public buildings the main exterior doors are in most cases obvious exits and do not have exit signs. All other exits are required to be marked with exit signs that are visible from any direction of approach. Also, if the way to reach the exit is not obvious, directional signs must also be provided.

    The color red is traditional for exit signs and red is required by law in many states. Since we are so use to seeing red for exit signs, it might seem strange that years ago, the color green was mandated for exit signs. It was intended to be similar to traffic lights where green is for “go” or safety. Even though the NFPA went back and forth on the red and green exit signs over the years, the current NFPA 101, Life Safety Code is void of any specific color specification. This is because there are some cases where another color might provide for better visibility under certain conditions, although in most cases red or green will be used. Check local state requirements before purchasing red, green, or any other color sign.

    Every exit sign, other than where activities or processes necessitate low lighting conditions, is required to be continuously illuminated, either by an internal or external light source. They must be legible in both the normal and emergency lighting conditions and the lighting source must be reliable.
    Internally illuminated signs are required to be listed in accordance with UL 924, Standard for Emergency Lighting and Power Equipment. An exception is where internally illuminated signs comply with any of the following criteria:

    • Existing signs with letters no less than 4 in. (100 mm) high
    • Tactile signs for the vision impaired
    • Floor proximity signs
    • Other alternative signs permitted by the local building inspector or fire marshal

    Size of Lettering

    Externally illuminated signs must have the word “EXIT” provided in capital letters. The following size minimum criteria apply to letters in the word “EXIT”:

    • The letters can’t be smaller than 6 in. (150 mm) high
    • The principal strokes of letters can’t be less than ¾ in. (19 mm) wide.
    • Except for the letter “I”, the width of the letters can’t be less than 2 in. (51 mm)
    • The spacing between letters can’t be less than 3/8 in. (9.5 mm).
    • Note: The signs are allowed to be larger but the letter widths, strokes, and spacing must be proportional to the letter height.

    Photoluminescent Signs

    Photoluminescent signs store ambient light and release it in the form of visible light. These types of signs are installed where there is a light source as indicated in the product listing. The light source typically must be equivalent to 5 foot-candles of unfiltered fluorescent light. Most recently, some Photoluminescent signs have been listed with metal halide lamps.

    Directional Signs

    If the way to reach the exit is not obvious, directional signs must be provided with a directional marking called a chevron. The directional indicators are located at the beginning or end of the word “EXIT”. Internally illuminated exit signs have “knock-outs” that permit the chevron to become visible when the “knock-out” is removed and the sign is illuminated. The exit sign then becomes a directional sign.
    Photoluminescent exit signs are provided with two self-adhesive directional chevrons so that the signs can also be used as directional signs. In both cases, the chevron indicators provide directional orientation for building occupants in order to find the building exits in the event of an emergency or building evacuation.
    Directional signs are designed to permit the sign to show the following directional chevrons or directional indicators which are intended to provide the direction of travel to a building exit.

    Brooks Exit Signs and Combo Exit Signs/Emergency Lights

    Brooks Exit Signs and combination Exit/Emergency Lights are constructed of durable plastic, 20 gauge steel, or a combination of the two. Signs are dual voltage 120/227 VAC.

    • Universal mounting
    • Solid-state charger
    • Low voltage disconnect
    • LED indicator
    • Test button
    • Pop-out chevrons
    • Battery back-up

    Lithonia Exit Signs

    Lithonia Exit Signs are also plastic. Signs are dual voltage 120/227 VAC.

    • UL listed
    • Battery back-up
    • Snap-together
    • Spare faceplate
    • Universal mounting kit
    • Knock-out chevrons
    • Low energy LED light

    All-Weather Exit Signs and Combo Exit Signs/Emergency Lights

    All-Weather Exit Signs and combination Exit/Emergency Lights can be installed either indoors or outdoors because the construction complies with NEMA Type 4X. Signs are dual voltage 120/227 VAC. These sign are typically installed where there is a need for the special protection offered by the special construction features.

    Operational impact-resistant to the following conditions or environments:

    • Water spray or splash conditions
    • High humidity environments
    • Oily environments
    • Corrosive environments

    Features:

    • All-weather resistant
    • All-environment resistant
    • NEMA Rated – NEMA 4X (protection against dust, rain, and corrosion)
    • Solid-state charger
    • Low voltage disconnect
    • LED indicator
    • Test button

    Lighted Exit Signs

    Model LED Color Battery Back-Up Enclosure Color Enclosure Material Brand Notes
    CHEX Red Yes White Steel Brooks Chicago Compliant
    LEDAC Red No White Plastic Brooks Brooks
    LED1 Red Yes White Plastic Brooks  
    LED1B Red Yes Black Plastic Brooks  
    LED5 Red Yes White Steel Brooks  
    LED6 Green Yes White Plastic Brooks  
    EDGE1 Red No White Plastic Brooks Edge Lit Design
    NYLED1 Red Yes White Steel Brooks New York City Compliant
    LED2 Red Yes White Plastic Lithonia  
    LED4X Red Yes White Steel Thomas & Betts NEMA Type 4X All-Weather

    Combination Exit Sign and Emergency Lights

    Model LED Color Battery Back-Up Enclosure Color Enclosure Material Brand Notes
    LED10 Red Yes White Plastic Brooks  
    LED4 Red Yes White Plastic Brooks  
    LED4B Red Yes Black Plastic Brooks  
    LED4HO Red Yes White Plastic Brooks High Output
    LED7 Green Yes White Plastic Brooks  
    NYLED4 Red Yes White Steel Brooks New York City Compliant
    LED4XCOMBO Red Yes White Steel Thomas & Betts NEMA Type 4X All-Weather

    EverGlow® Photo-Luminescent Exit Signs

    EverGlow® Photo-Luminescent Exit Signs also require no electricity because they store ambient light and release it in the form of visible light. These signs are installed where they are continually illuminated by a reliable light source during building occupancy. Signs are ETL listed and available with red or green backgrounds.

    Brooks Self-Luminous Exit Signs

    The illumination for Brooks Self-Luminous Exit Signs is provided by gaseous tritium, which creates a visible fluorescent light. Tritium illumination requires no electrical energy. Signs are available for 10- or 20-year operational life. Signs are red, are UL and ETL listed, and meet NFPA 101 requirements.

    Brooks Training Seminars

    Brooks offers regional training for exit signs and emergency lights. To learn more and attend one of our seminars, ask your sales representative about the next Brooks Exit Sign and Emergency Lighting Class in your area.

    Mark Conroy is an engineer in the Boston, MA office of Brooks Equipment Company. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.


    Click Here to view a PDF version