Do you need to replace all your exit signs?


Now that I have your attention with that provocative title, let’s try to answer an age old question: Do you need to replace all your exit signs?

Here at Signature Electric, we like to use these articles to discuss the work we do with our amazing customers. In this case, our customer operated a fairly high tech three-story office building. They recognized that the exit signs were revealing their age and they were looking for an alternative.

Back then, the present signs were a mid range aluminum box. For a majority of cases, the old incandescent bulbs had been replaced with retrofit LED lamps to save energy. While this does save money, the sign is not always properly lit with new lamps. In the event of a power failure, only a single DC incandescent lamp illuminated the sign. After years of their service, the signs began to deteriorate.

Coming in close to the end of the year, this request provided an interesting opportunity. Building codes had been updated so, the conventional exit signs would shift to today’s green running man; a mandatory requirement since early 2014.

Our customer was smart and wanted to get ahead of the curve. They selected a high-end LED universal sign. The choice of a truly universal sign meant all 78 signs could be ordered without any concern for the pictogram orientation, voltage (AC or DC) or the mounting method. A single universal sign fit all the locations.

The new signs looked great and shone as brightly in emergency mode as they did in AC mode. This is quite uncommon as a typical exit sign is very dim in the DC (emergency) mode. It relies on the fact that the other lights in the area are off in order to be seen.

Now let’s get back to the question at hand. “Do I need to replace all my exit signs?”

The simple answer is no. These building codes are not retroactive. If the sign was approved upon installation, then it can remain as is.

In 2014, the need to change depended on the scope of the job. Certainly, someone similar to our customer here, will need to install the green running man signs if changing all the signs in their facility. However, if one or two signs require a replacement, one can continue to install the red exit signs to maintain continuity.

The need to change a few signs may provide an opportunity to replace all the signs on one floor or level with the green pictogram. The running man pictogram helped to overcome the barriers of language and moved Ontario closer to the international standard.

Aside from the aesthetics of a sign, the placement of signs are just as important. People need to see the signs in places that are noticeable and easy to commit to memory. Safety is the priority and everyone should know where to go.

Believe it or not, I still see customers with the red exit signs or very poorly lit ones. This is the perfect opportunity for some energy savings and a nice visual upgrade!

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Note: This is an updated version of the blog ‘Do you need to replace all your exit signs?’ originally posted in January 2014