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Exit & Emergency Lights

About Exit Lighting

Exit lighting is fundamental for safety in buildings, helping occupants evacuate when there is an emergency. Unlike other types of lighting fixtures, which allow more design choices by architects and engineers, exit lights are required by law in many buildings. They are especially helpful for visitors who are not familiarized with the building layout, and where the exits are located.

Exit signs are available in single-face and double-face versions. They can be attached from the back, the side or the top - depending on how the fixture housing is designed. Exit lights are required by law in commercial buildings like offices, shopping malls, department stores, schools, universities, stadiums and movie theaters.

An exit sign with LED lights offers a higher reliability and a longer service life, compared with older fixtures using halogen or fluorescent lamps. In addition, an LED exit sign can run longer on batteries when an emergency interrupts the power supply. There are LED retrofit kits and replacement lamps for older exit signs, which allow a low cost upgrade.

What Is the Difference Between Emergency Lights and Exit Signs?

Emergency & exit lights are used together in buildings, and they both have critical functions during emergencies. However, there is an importa

nt difference between them:

  • Exit lights are used specifically to tell occupants where the building exits are, and their letters are normally red or green.

  • Emergency lights are used to provide general lighting when the power supply is cut off, and they activate automatically. They have one or more light heads, which can be pointed in different directions.

There are also combination fixtures, which have both emergency lights and exit signs.

Emergency lights and combination emergency exit lights normally have 1-3 pointable lamp heads, which can be round or square. There are also remote light heads, which are powered from an existing emergency light fixture (or combo fixture), but installed in a different spot. Remote light heads normally use a 12V or 24V DC connection to the fixture powering them.


Most exit signs and emergency lights are designed for a wide range of voltages, typically from 120V to 277V. This makes them compatible with most electrical installations found in residential, commercial and industrial buildings.


When Do I Need Wet Rated Exit Signs and Emergency Lights?

Exit signs and emergency lights that may be exposed to water must be rated for wet locations. There are two main cases in which this can happen:

  • Some indoor environments are permanently humid, resulting from the activities carried out or the type of equipment found inside.

  • However, emergency lights and exit signs may also be exposed to water in dry locations that are protected with automatic sprinkler systems.

Automatic sprinklers are very effective for fire protection, since they respond immediately before flames can expand. Contrary to what is shown in movies and TV series, sprinklers are not triggered by smoke, and they will only respond to heat from an active fire. Another common misconception is that all sprinklers in the same floor open at once, but in reality, only those directly above a fire will open.

Although they provide reliable fire protection, automatic sprinklers can damage electrical devices that are not waterproof, and this includes light fixtures. Emergency lights and exit signs must remain ON during an emergency, even when being showered directly by a sprinkler! Any fixture within the range of a sprinkler head should be waterproof, even if the room is not exposed to moisture under normal conditions.


Advantages of LED Exit Signs and Emergency Lights

Emergency and exit light manufacturers now offer a wide variety of LED options, which have several advantages over halogen and fluorescent lights.

  • Since LEDs have a low power consumption, emergency exit lighting fixtures that use them can run on batteries for a longer time. For example, a 3-watt exit sign with emergency lights only needs 4.5 Wh to operate for 90 minutes (3750 mAh at 12V). This is a major advantage if the power supply is interrupted during an emergency.

  • LED emergency lights can produce a potent and focused light beam, with a high color rendering index (CRI). Having good visibility is critical during an emergency, when occupants must evacuate as quickly as possible.

  • LEDs can also switch on instantly, with no flicker or warm-up period.

  • When used in exit signs that are left permanently on, LEDs reduce the frequency of lamp replacements - some LED exit light bulbs are rated for 10 years at full output.

  • LEDs also reduce the energy consumption of exit signs that operate permanently.

Accessories for Exit Signs and Emergency Lights

Emergency and exit lights can be equipped with many types of accessories, to enhance their functions or to provide additional protection. The following are some accessories available from Lumenco:

Lighting fixtures that are designed for other applications can also operate as emergency lights when equipped with a battery pack.