The requirement for luminous egress path markings are quickly being adopted around the nation, but what does it take for a photoluminescent product to be considered code compliant?
Photoluminescence is defined as a glow in the dark light, that is emitted only after having been exposed to either a natural or artificial light source. Relying on this explanation it’s easy to assume any glow in the dark sign or glow in the dark tape can be used as a luminous egress path marker. Before you settle on an egress product for your building however, ensure it is code compliant!
UL 1994 is an important safety aspect, which sets the standards for luminous egress path markings in high-rise buildings. UL 1994 listed products can make the difference between life and death in emergency situations.
In order to become UL 1994 listed, photoluminescent products must undergo intensive testing to ensure the brightness and longevity of their luminous glow. To maintain a UL 1994 listing, the manufacturing must undergo annual retesting.
UL 1994 listed luminous egress products can come in a variety of formats; signage designed to give visual cues towards the exit, floor markings to delineate the exit path, stair nosings to mark step-edges, and many more.
The purpose of luminous egress path markings is to provide a clearly visible and easy to follow egress path, especially when a building’s power has failed. As such it is mandatory for luminous egress path markings to provide a bright glow for a long enough period of time that allows occupants to safely exit the building.
UL 924 clearly defines the requirements of safe emergency lighting, and provides testing standards in order for emergency lighting to become UL 924 listed. The regulations listed within this section state illuminated exit signs must operate for a minimum of 90 minutes, after power has been lost. This operating time applies to all UL 924 listed luminous egress path markings, and not just photoluminescent exit signs.
In order to meet code compliance, self-luminous exit signs must remain visible from at least 100 feet away, in total darkness. Likely you have noticed glow in the dark exit signs are listed with viewing distances such as 50, 75, 100 or 125 feet. This describes the distance from which the sign is visible in complete darkness. To meet code compliance, the International Building Code Section 10 states exit signs must be placed within 100 feet of any point within the room, hallway, staircase or area. This means, if you chose to install 50ft rated photoluminescent exit signs, there must be an exit sign placed every 50 feet towards the exit. The same rule of thumb is applied for all visibility ratings.
Photoluminescent signs and path marking products do not require any electrical back up, which is why they are the safer emergency lighting choice. After absorbing light from a nearby natural or artificial light source, the product emits a steady glow over a period of time, completely independently of the building’s electrical system.
The ASTM specification for photoluminescent safety markings states the charging source needs to be 1 footcandle (11 lux) of fluorescent exposure for 60 minutes, and the minimum luminance shall be 30 millicandelas per square meter at 10 minutes, and 5 millicandelas per square meter after 90 minutes [see ASTM E 2072].
While the building is occupied, luminous egress path markers and signage must be continually exposed to a reliable light source to ensure proper charging. Keep in mind if the building’s lighting systems are turned off during any time of occupation, photoluminescent signs and markers are not permitted.
UL 924, which outlines the requirements for UL-listed exit signs states photoluminescent signs must operate for at least 90 minutes after a power outage. This time period is also required by the International Building Code.
Luminous egress path marking code compliance doesn’t stop at the product! Installation and inspection procedures must be followed to maintain code compliance.
Firstly, when installing a photoluminescent sign it is critical to ensure the sign will be exposed to reliable light source in order to receive the required charging levels. Once installed, and after gaining a charge, test the signage, making sure it remains easily visible in the dark, from its listed viewing distance.
As luminous egress path markings and signs require almost constant exposure to the light source, ensure the controls to the light source are not easily accessed by the public. The charging light source cannot be controlled by timers or motion detectors.
The NFPA 1010 states luminous signage shall be inspected every 30 days, or monitored frequently, to ensure optimal illumination [see NFPA 101 18.104.22.168].
Ecoglo® products are more than just glow-in-the-dark signs! Our patented manufacturing process, which utilizes a dry powder to maximize luminance, ensures code compliance. Our extensive range of products has been engineered to provide a greater visibility than required by all relevant building codes.
Not only are ecoglo® products easy to install but they are incredibly long-lasting, outshining similar products on the market and tested to last for more than 30 years.
Contact your local teritory manager today, for a free building audit and learn how you can make your building visibly better.