Nuclear Regulatory Commission

NRC Self Luminous Exit Sign Facts

The biggest distinction between a self luminous exit sign and standard LED signs is their power source. SL signs use tritium, a naturally luminous hydrogen gas, instead of electricity.

A self powered exit sign can be installed in just about any location, but they do have one small drawback. Tritium is a byproduct of nuclear fission and has a small, yet potentially dangerous, radiation signature.


See Our 10 Year Self Luminous Exit Signs

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, oversees the distribution of SL signs, tracking every unit to ensure each one is disposed of in a safe manner.

Self Powered Exit Sign NEC Markings

A self powered exit sign will look like an ordinary exit sign at first, but look closely and you'll see the glowing green tritium tubes inside. This is especially noticeable during the day.

To reduce any confusion, the NEC requires all SL signs to have permanent warning labels that mention:

  • tritium
  • 3H or H-3
  • Three-bladed radiation warning symbol
  • Words "Caution: Radioactive material

Still not sure if you have a tritium exit sign? Need to schedule tritium disposal? Shoot us an email or call SLES toll free at 800-379-1129 for a faster response.


SLES Co, and other exit sign distributors, must apply for a radioactive materials license from the NRC or their Agreement State. Buildings that use tritium exit signs are 'general licensees', which is a fancy way for saying they don't require a license.

When in use, a self-luminous sign will pose no threat to you or any of your building personnel. You will only need to contact the NRC sporadically for the next 10, 15 or 20 years depending on the model you purchased.

What are the responsibilities of a General Licensee?

  • Notify distributor (like SLES Co.) of any damaged or expired signs.
  • Appoint an employee to be the NRC liaison officer in charge of the building's SL signs.
  • Report changes to the device or the employee overseeing them to the NRC or Agreement State.
  • If transferring ownership, give new owner copy of regulations and report transfer to NRC/Agreement State within 30 days.

See Our 20 Year Self Luminous Exit Signs

Under the NRC, you should never:

  • remove labeling from sign
  • pick up an abandoned SL sign
  • give away or re-sell the sign unless it is used in the same location
  • dispose of SL signs as normal trash

Your cart is currently empty.

Continue Browsing