Are you feeling left in the dark when it comes to battery powered exit signs?
Maybe you’re one of the people who is curious about purchasing one for yourself because you’ve got an area in your building that’s not accessible to electricity.
If so, you're not alone. But the question remains – are there actually battery powered exit signs?
Yes and no. I'll explain, read on.
Battery Backup Exit Signs
From the standpoint of whether batteries are used in conjunction with exit signs, the answer is yes.
In order to meet the requirements of being lit during emergency situations, battery backup exit signs can be purchased. Whether it's a 90-minute battery or a 120-minute battery, these are used to ensure functionality during times of electrical outage. This way, battery usage is a helpful tool to keep exit signs lit for a required amount of time.
The upshot is, of course, that batteries only last so long. Anyone who grew up with a Walkman in the 90s, or who charges their phone today, knows this. The IBC (International Building Code), an organization that codifies safety standards, states in section 1011.5.3 that an exit sign must stay illuminated at least 90 minutes during a situation of main power loss. Batteries afford this security, but it is limited to short durations of time.
How They Work
Most exit signs today utilize light emitting diode (LED) technology. It is a very efficient light source that weighs less and consumes less energy than old technology.
When the main power is on, LED exit signs are powered from the electrical grid of the building, called AC current. It delivers a high volume of energy – much higher than the exit sign needs. To deal with this, the current is reduced via a transformer and converted into a DC current.
This continuous DC current supplies power to the exit sign. Just like on your phone, the backup battery also gets charged to its full potential so it can be at full charge for emergency situations. When a power outage occurs, the exit sign switches to draw power from the battery, which, as mentioned, is required to last 90 minutes but perhaps can go as long as 120 minutes. This gives a short but sufficient amount of time for people to be able to see exit signs when vacating the building, as well as assist any individuals conducting emergency efforts (such as firefighters).
So, as you can see, while batteries provide a supplementary role to powering exit signage in emergency situations, they are by no means a primary power source. In this sense, there are no such thing as battery-powered exit signs.
Glow in The Dark
The key thing to remember is that exit signs are required to be able to glow in the dark during times when the primary power source is not available.
There are a number of standardized safety codes that describe the requirements of this. These include the IBC (mentioned above) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Both of these associations, created to ensure safety standards in buildings, state that buildings must have 24 hour internally illuminated exit signs in operation, as well as temporary illumination during power outages. Other organizations that also mandate this include the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the International Fire Code (IFC).
Non-Electric or Electric
So far, the options for exit signs discussed have been those connected to the building's grid for primary power.
However, newer technologies exist that can make more sense for your building. For instance, self-luminous exit signs provide many advantages over old models of exit signs. These types of signs, which utilize photoluminescent technology, consume zero energy. This reduces the carbon footprint of your building. Also, since they are able to absorb and store energy from light, they require no wiring. This makes maintenance of these signs much easier.
Self-luminous signs store energy from light absorption, and therefore are able to meet emergency lighting requirements during power outages. They are a good option to consider when replacing old models of exit signs, which can consume a lot more power and require more maintenance.
Contact Exit Sign Warehouse Today
Not so complicated, right? Hopefully you now better understand the role batteries play in the functionality of your exit signs, as well as the different types of exit signs that are available.
At Exit Sign Warehouse, we offer a high-quality selection of exit sign models, including the self-luminous type. These can also be expected to last through the life of your facility. Additionally, they comply with all standardized safety codes, and can be purchased with a 10- or 20-year warranty/ Life Span
We are here to help you get the exit signs you need. Contact us today and our skilled and friendly staff will answer any questions you have and make sure you are satisfied.