Non Electrical Exit Signs

Types of non electrical Exit signs are glow in the dark (photoluminescent) and Tritium self luminous, also referred to as nuclear powered signs.


Are You Wondering If Non-Electric Exit Signs Have Any Power?

Non-Electric Exit signs are becoming more prevalent as people look for alternative power sources.

During emergencies such as fires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, electricity may not be available.

Fortunately, there are many more alternatives to electric exit signs.

What Are the Different Types of Non-Electric Exit Signs?

An exit sign needs to be visible in cases of emergency or darkened areas. That may seem obvious, but there are other benefits that power free exit signs need to provide.

To be effective, they must be economical, long-lasting, and safe for the environment.

Self-luminous Exit Signs

Self-luminous exit signs have a lot going for them, other than the fact they don’t need electricity to work. They are waterproof, corrosion-resistant, and flame-resistant, and usually last around 20 years. They’re highly visible and easy to install.

Contrary to popular belief, Tritium exit signs are not dangerous.

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen but does not contain enough power to be harmful. These are a popular choice for non-electric exit signs as they work immediately when the power goes off.

Photoluminescent Exit Signs

Photoluminescent exit signs don’t contain Tritium and will usually last up to 25 years. They are waterproof, corrosion- and flame-resistant, but they do need re-charging after 90 minutes of use during a blackout. They also need lights with a minimum of 5 footcandles to charge the sign before use.

What Are Footcandles?

Footcandles are the units of measurements that cover how much light emits from your exit sign. The term comes from the days when we only had candles for lighting. At some stage during history, a certain size of candle was determined to be standard.

Nowadays, one footcandle is accepted as being approximately one lumen, per square foot. 5 footcandles will emit 5 lumen per square feet.

How Do Non-Electric Exit Signs Work?

With self-luminous exit signs, small shatterproof glass tubes are filled with tritium. These tubes are then arranged to spell out the wordEXIT.

The tubes are enclosed in a thermoplastic vandal-resistant housing with a clear polycarbonate shield on the face. The gas inside the glass tubes can be seen from 100 feet away as it emits a bright green glow.

Photoluminescent exit signs work with phosphorescence, which is the used to create glow-in-the-dark products. The phosphorescence collects photons from ambient light, stores them, and then releases them as a green glow as the building darkens.

Photoluminescent exit signs have a film over them that collects the photons.

What Are the Advantages of Non-Electric Exit Signs?

The first advantage of non electric exit signs has to be the instantly recognizable green color that they emit.

It’s highly visible in the dark and if you have an emergency situation where people are panicking, you want your exit sign to capture people’s attention.

Most people understand that a bright green color usually means go, and will head for that sign, whether they can read the letters or not.

Cost is another advantage. These signs will not hike up your electricity bill or incur any other ongoing costs. They are easy and cheap to install as you don’t need to hire an electrician.

The initial cost of purchasing the signs can range from $65.00 to $230.00 and they only need to be replaced every 20-25 years.

Ensuring Health and Safety with Non-Electric Exit Signs

Tritium exit signs are governed by specific laws and procedures for recycling but photoluminescent exit signs can be disposed of as usual.

Damaged tritium exit signs should not be tampered with. If one of the EXIT letters is not lit up, your sign may be damaged. Follow the manufacturers disposal instructions carefully or give us a call at Exit Sign Warehouse and we will guide you through the process.

All of our non-electric exit signs comply with Tritium Self Luminous Exit Sign Codes and Compliance NFPA Life Safety Code 101 U.L. 924 City of Los Angeles State of California Council of American Building Officials OSHA (ICBO, SBCCI) USNRC ISO 9001.






Signs that do not require electricity provide a speedy solution where power is non existent or impossible. Tritium exit signs have a typical life span of 10, 15 or 20 years. Photoluminescent signs require a minimum of 5 foot candles of light to properly charge the sign. (Five foot candle of light is enough to see your shoes in a dark room). In case of a power outage a glow in the dark Exit Sign will illuminate for a minimum of 90 minutes which is required by code. Exit signs that operate solely on batteries do not comply with state or local codes. However non electrical signs are code compliant. Typical installations for non electrical exit signs are in stairwells, hallways, and buildings that want to be environmentally friendly and save on energy costs.



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