Exit signs are a rarely thought of technology that is crucial for everyday convenience. And in some emergencies exits signs can be mean life or death. A failure of such signs is entirely unacceptable and avoidable. One company, Isolite, says it has developed an exit sign with technology that combines the reliability of LEDs and photoluminescence to overcome the limitations using photoluminesce alone without requiring battery backup.
“What happens when the power goes out?” is a question that building owners must face. This is especially true for exit signs, that simply must work. An unworking exit sign could be a potential disaster just waiting to happen and a potential liability for building owners.
While battery backup is commonly available, few test the batteries once a month as required by several safety standards.
Such standards include those from regulatory agencies such as NFPA 101 Life Safety Code (which requires a reliable source of light and at least 90 minutes of emergency light if the building’s power goes out) and UL 924, UL’s Standard for Safety of Emergency Lighting and Power Equipment. Isolite notes that while batteries last five to seven years before having to be replaced, they have a much shorter life if exposed to prolonged heat or suffer from corrosion. Many building owners just install them and forget them.
Another potential solution to this exit sign dilemma is using electric lights to charge a photoluminescent material that will continue emitting bright light, even when the electricity goes out. However, as a standalone exit sign solution, this technology has significant limitations, according to Isolite.
Standard Photoluminescent Exit Signs Need Lights That Stay on While Building Occupied
For example, such standalone photoluminescent exits signs require an activating light source to shine on them at all times while a building is occupied. Isolite points out that this requirement becomes particularly problematic when building owners have to use dimming, and motion sensing and turn lights off in areas not in use to save electricity to meet efficient building standards such as California’s Title 24.
Rather than relying on an external charging source, internal LEDs with an optimal wavelength charge the Isolite’s newly released Dual Tech Hybrid Exit Sign. Then, in the rare event that the power goes out, the exit sign will remain lit with the photoluminesce brightly enough to be seen from beyond one hundred feet (the requirement for exit signs), according to Isolite.
The Dual Tech 2.0 features OSHA, NFPA 70-NEC, NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, and UL 924 approvals.
“While LED technology has improved to the point where it can last over 20 years, battery technology has not kept pace and has been the weak point in exit sign reliability and maintenance,” said Bill Lynch, president of Isolite, a producer of specification-grade emergency lighting products. “Hybrid LED/photoluminescent technology eliminates this weakness and provides a more reliable operation for decades.”