IBC Compliant Self Luminous Exit Signs

IBC Section 1011 Explained

Like all nationally-approved exit signage, self luminous exit signs must be constructed and installed in accordance with the International Building Code. This is in addition to a number of other codes and guidelines, both federal and local.

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The first edition of the International Building Code was published in 1997. This document carefully combined prior documents from BOCA, ICBO, SBCCI and the ICC into one cohesive source.

The IBC focuses mostly on fire prevention, yet it differs front he International Fire Code (IFC) because it refers to construction and design of a given facility. The Fire Code applies to buildings after they have been constructed.


Not sure which document applies most to your facility's self luminous exit signs?

IBC - If you are purchasing signs for a new construction project.

IFC - When you are replacing or refitting signs in a completed building.

If you're still in the dark, call SLES Co. toll-free at 800-379-1129 or email our production staff with a specific question.

IBC Section 1011 Guidelines

  • Exit signs and access doors must be visible from all directions of egress.
  • All doors along egress path will be marked with an exit sign.
  • Exit signs will be no more then 100 ft (or their listed viewing distance) apart along the path of egress.


  • Rooms or areas that require only one exit or exit access.
  • Main exterior doors or gates that are reasonably assumed to be exits.
  • Group U, R-1, R-2 or R-3 dwelling and dormitory units.

Illumination (Sec 1011.2)

All exit signs must be internally or externally illuminated. Self powered exit signs have internal illumination provided by naturally glowing tritium tubes inside.

Exceptions include tactile or ADA signs for the blind.

Internally Illuminated Exit Signs (Sec 1011.4)

Exit signs shall be illuminated at all times and must be labeled in accordance with UL 924 guidelines. They must be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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Power Source (Sec 1011.5.3)

Exit signs must continue to illuminate after a natural disaster or power failure. This is typically provided by a backup battery, ballast or remote generator that is wired to the unit. Signs must stay lit for no less than 90 minutes as specified by the NFPA 101: Life Safety Code.

But since self luminous signs require no electricity, they immediately qualify and exceed IBC power source requirement.

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