Exit Signs-Colors, Lights And LEDs

led Emergency Light

Exit signs have an interesting history and present. It has always been a question of debate whether the color should be green or red. Some experiments were conducted to check the psychological impact of colors in emergencies. None of the tests could reach a conclusive result. 

In the latest development, states(Illinois and South Carolina) in the US replaced green color for exit sign to red. These changes are frequent in other countries around the world. Helena and Montana have orange exit signs.  

In the US, the government has allowed municipalities to set their own standards about emergency exit lighting. 

What should be the exact color for emergency lighting is a different matter altogether. We are here to discuss the implications of the incandescent lights being used to illuminate the signs. 

Usage of incandescent light in the emergency signs has been a topic of debate in the past and present. In the past, there were no other options available other than incandescent lights. Today, with the advent of new lighting technologies, this debate has gone even more heated. LED lights outclass and outperform conventional and bright lights by a considerable margin. 

How Do They Select The Best Color For Emergency Light?

There is a little color science here. Exit signs are supposed to be visible from a long distance. This has to do with the wavelength of the color. The more the wavelength, the more noticeable is it from a considerable distance. According to wavelength, the best color choices are red and green.

These colors are not just used for exit signs. For signaling purposes which require a high visibility range such as traffic signals or train signals, these colors are preferred. 

Some Subtleties In The Color Of The Signs

So why is there a distinction between red color and green color when they both convey the safety message? There are two subtleties that you should know. Two colors have been predominantly used in the exit signs- red and green. Red color signs were printed on the black background. The contrast in color is a no brainer. Red color is naturally associated with panic and danger. This is the reason it is also used as warning signs. In short, you can say that red color warns you and induces a sense of panic within you. Run for your life!

Now another color that is often used in the exit signs is green. In late 1970, a new design for exit sign was invented by Yukio Ota. It contained a running man in green color with a white background enclosed in three strips of green color, 2 of which run along the two breaths and one along the upper length. 

Many other countries use some version of the ISO standard, a symbol developed in the late 1970s by a Japanese designer named Yukio Ota and adopted for international use in 1985. 

The image was a pictographic representation of the exit sign with less panicky color. It was loved and adopted by many countries as an ISO certified mark of safety/exit sign in 2019. 

Many loved it for its simplicity and symbolic expression of safety. Many non-English speaking countries loved it because it had no English words. Later many European countries invented their own designs of exit signs. Ota’s design profoundly inspired them. 

Green is a color that peacefully represents safety. Red, on the other hand, represents danger. Any logical analysis will conclude that green is a far more sensible choice. Some agencies conducted experiments to analyze how people react to these colors, at the point of the alarming situations at the same result.

Why Are LED-Lit Exit Signs The Best Options?

Before we dive into what lighting should be used for lighting, we should know where it should be used. There have been debates in the past about the internally lit v/s externally illuminated exit signs. There is also a third category called photoluminescent exit signs. Photoluminescent exit signs are suitable for well lit.

At many places, externally lit exit signs are highly controversial. It has been seen that externally, lighting often meddle with exposures; hence, exit signs look blown out from a distance. In the most recent and controversial development, Newyork made laws for externally lit exit signs stricter.

So now, we will talk about why LEDs are a better choice for lighting exit signs for some no-brainer reasons. 

Typical incandescent bulbs consume 40 watts to illuminate exit signs. LEDs consume 1.5 watts for single-phase units and 5 watts for double phase units. Also, the exit signs are supposed to include a backup of at least 90 minutes. 

Since LEDs consume much lower wattage than other bulbs, they offer a better option than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. The entire power required for 90 minutes of backup in the LED-lit exit signs is less than the energy consumed by incandescent lights. 

Incandescent lights consume twice as much energy consumed by LEDs. 

LED lit exit signs last longer and require less maintenance

When it comes to robustness and longevity, there is no doubt about the robustness of LEDs. They last far longer than all any other lighting alternatives that could happen to your mind. 

LED Emergency Exit Sign is UL certified, which shows that these artifacts requires less maintenance, and are robust. They can withstand fires and the extremities that usually occur in such situations. 

Fire won’t damage your LED exit sign, and gravity won’t be able to break it when it hits the floor. 

One can easily mount LED signs on the roof and the sides of the walls. 


 No one cares about fluorescent and incandescent emergency and exit signs now. 

LEDs are the future of exit sign lightings. They require less maintenance than incandescent lights. Since they are supposed to have a battery backup of 90 minutes, they undergo little checking regimes, but far lesser than what it requires with incandescent lights. 

Since photoluminescent lights don’t require any lighting units, they require almost no maintenance. Still, LED emergency signs are far better choices because they produce light of their own. 

Now we dare you to find reasons to stay with the conventional exit lights even now. 

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