Photoluminescent Safety Signs: What They Are and Why You Need Them

By |

Table of contents

Photoluminescent safety signs are quickly becoming a standard feature in buildings open to the public.

Their popularity shouldn’t come as a surprise. These displays, which glow in the dark, offer a wide range of benefits—both to building owners and to their visitors. 

If you’ve been tasked with updating some of the signage in your facility, it’s worth taking a few minutes to learn more about why you should install photoluminescent safety signs. 

To make it easier for you, we’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about these signs.

So, let’s dive in.

What Are Photoluminescent Safety Signs?

Photoluminescent safety signs are interior displays made from a special kind of material. This material absorbs natural or ambient light through the process of photoluminescence. The light is then stored, allowing the display to glow in the dark. 

What does this mean?

Unlike traditional emergency signage, photoluminescent signage itself doesn’t need electricity. Instead, it can be “charged” by an external light source of at least 54 lux. On average, these signs require 60 minutes to fully charge. 

Once fully charged, photoluminescent safety signs give off a highly visible glow for at least 90 minutes. 

Why Are Photoluminescent Safety Signs Important?

These displays are important because they can improve your building’s egress path-marking system. 

Here’s how…

During an emergency, staff members and visitors will rely on the signs in your building to guide them to the right exit. In the event that you have a power outage, your photoluminescent safety signs will make the evacuation process much smoother. Even in blackout conditions, the people in your building will be able to see photoluminescent exit signs with ease.

Further, installing these displays can give you peace of mind that your evacuation plan is supported by the proper tools. 

Click here to check out our sign families!

What Are the Benefits of Purchasing These Signs?

Depending on when your facility was built, you may already have electric emergency exit signs and lighting in place. If that’s the case, you may be wondering whether it’s worth switching to photoluminescent safety signs…

Rest assured that it is.

Here are just 5 benefits of purchasing photoluminescent emergency displays for your building. 

1) They Can Reduce Operating Costs.

Traditional electric exit signs come with a number of expenses, such as…

One of the benefits of installing photoluminescent safety signs is that you can cut down on these expenses.

As mentioned above, these displays don’t require additional electricity. Since they operate by absorbing existing light, they are a cost-effective alternative to traditional electric signage. 

Moreover, installation is quick and easy, so you won’t need to hire outside help to put your new signs in place. Once you have the proper tools, you or a member of your staff can put the signs up in a matter of minutes!

2) They Are Reliable.

In case of an emergency, you want to be sure that you have enough light to guide people to safety. Unfortunately, electrically powered signs aren’t always reliable, especially during a blackout. 

If the signs are old or the backup battery systems need to be replaced, there’s a chance the displays won’t be clearly visible.

However, photoluminescent safety signs provide a dependable source of illumination—no matter the conditions. In fact, these displays have proven to work even when smoke makes it difficult to see.

Additionally, photoluminescent exit signs have a longer lifespan than incandescent, LED, and tritium exit signs. On average, a photoluminescent display can last for 25 years before you’ll need to replace it. 

3) They Require Little to No Maintenance.

One of the drawbacks of electric signage is that it requires regular maintenance. Along with being costly, it’s also inconvenient. 

This is another way in which photoluminescent safety signs have the advantage. 

Although you should clean the signs every so often to remove dirt and debris, they require no other upkeep. When sign maintenance is cut down, your staff can focus on tasks that are more important.  

4) They Are Code Compliant.

Some businesses are hesitant to switch to photoluminescent safety signs because of code concerns. However, another benefit of these displays is that they are code compliant. In fact, they meet the same standards as electric exit signs. 

As long as you order your displays from a reputable sign dealer and install them properly, you can be sure that your new photoluminescent signs will adhere to code requirements. 

These include the following:

Of course, it’s a good idea to consult an expert to make sure that your new signage is compliant with local and state rules as well. 

5) They Can Help You Qualify for LEED Credits.

Finally, photoluminescent safety signs are also a “green” alternative to traditional emergency exit signs. They can cut down on energy consumption and decrease your building’s carbon footprint.  

They can even help you qualify for LEED credits. 

Typically, the addition of photoluminescent signage applies to 2 LEED credits: 

  1. Energy & Atmosphere
  2. Innovation & Design

Depending on how your signs were made, you may also be able to earn points related to the Materials & Resources credit category.  

Also, if you’re wary of photoluminescent signage because it’s made out of an unfamiliar material, have no fear. It’s a safe option. These displays are nontoxic and nonradioactive. Further, they don’t require any special handling. You can just install and go!


With photoluminescent safety signs, you can provide visual support in case of emergency, making it easy for those in your building to evacuate safely. 

In addition to being a more reliable method of illumination, photoluminescent signage is more convenient and costs less than traditional electric signage. It can even boost your company’s efforts to “go green.”

So, if your building is in need of new exit signage, it’s well worth looking at photoluminescent options. 

For more information, contact the staff at Erie Custom Signs. We’d be happy to talk to you about the NovAcryl materials we use to fabricate these signs. 

Filed Under: Design and Customization

Recent Posts


"Erie Custom Signs rocks! The signs they made for me look absolutely fabulous! I’m so grateful for their patience and flexibility during the design phase, and the quick turnaround to get my order here in time for the final inspection. They have been great to work with, and I hope to do so again in the near future." Dawn Gilman, Crystal Lake Engraving
"Erie Custom Signs did an awesome job. Thanks to Mike and the team for such prompt service. They’re now my go-to for ADA signage." Greg Haskell, Hwy 35 Signs
"The Erie team is always expedient in their responses, and they continually meet our extremely tight deadlines. Their work is of the highest quality and their customer service is top notch! We really appreciate having a fabricator like Erie Custom signs. They are always up for a challenge and continually produce our unique sign designs." Beth Geddio
Erie Custom Signs is amazing! My subcontractor received the signs ahead of schedule, which will ensure that they are installed on time. Thank you again for your assistance in this quick turnaround. I will be using your company again in the future! Brian Whitecap, Tusick + Associates Architects, Inc.

Erie Custom Signs is a proud member of...