Self Luminous Exit Sign vs Photoluminescent

Self Powered Exit Sign Comparison

No electronic exit sign in existence can maintain illumination for as long a self luminous exit sign. That is because SL fixtures require no electricity to operate; rather they are lit by an array of naturally glowing tritium gas tubes. In essence, self-luminous signs run on emergency power for their entire lifespan.

Check Out Our 10 Year Self Luminous Exit Signs

The only exit sign that begins to compete with tritium powered exit signs are photoluminescent models. These exit signs do not require electricity or tritium, instead utilizing a glow in the dark surface that stores ambient light.

We did a side by side test against these two non-electrical exit options to compare their durability, lifespan, cost and flexibility.

Self Luminous Exit Signs


    • Can be placed in dark environments
    • Require no electricity
    • Do not need ambient lighting to be on at all times
    • Completely waterproof, flame and corrosion-resistant


    • Will last a maximum of twenty years
    • Cheapest signs start at $197.99
    • Tritium must be disposed through EPA-approved vendors

Photoluminescent Exit Signs


    • Require no electricity
    • Do not contain tritium
    • Last up to 25 years
    • Completely waterproof, flame and corrosion-resistant
    • Cheapest sign starts at $150
    • Can be thrown away or recycled with normal trash


    • Require surrounding lights to be on at all times during non-emergencies
    • Lights must provide a minimum of 5 footcandles to charge the sign
    • The sign's glow lasts only 90 minutes during a blackout
    • Sign needs 3 hours to fully charge

Combining Signs

Common practice for companies that want to use self powered exit signs exclusively will place photoluminescent signs and self luminous exit signs evenly throughout a building. Glow in the dark signs can be placed at exits in well-lit areas, while SL signs are placed in areas with uneven/inconsistent lighting as well as hallways where there is a jog in the general lighting path.

Check Out Our 20 Year Self Luminous Exit Signs

This method also reduces the amount of tritium that will have to be disposed of when SL fixtures reach the end of their lifespan. Of course, it also makes the initial cost for outfitting your building considerably cheaper as well.

Using self powered sign combinations is a popular method aboard Naval ships, merchant shipping vessels and offshore oil platforms.

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