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The Evolution of The Exit Sign


As a purveyor of LED emergency lights, The Exit Store recognizes and appreciates the positive impact of the modern-day exit sign in protecting and guiding the masses. While there are various models and accessories available in today’s landscape of modern preparedness, the intention has remained resolute: Providing highly visible warnings for anyone who needs assistance leaving a building or in case of emergency.

Even though safety and clarity have been the ultimate goal, technological advances and code reform has changed the utilization and design of exit signs. Check out this infographic for a few ways exit signs have changed over the years, then keep reading for a deeper dive into the exit sign’s modification over the decades.

Perfecting the Exit Strategy

In the past, exit signs had the word “EXIT” written across the front in red and lit by incandescent bulbs. Sounds familiar, right? While that element of the design may have stood the test of time, many early iterations came with several defects that put lives at risk. Additional issues with the old design involved the visibility of the sign in general. The light wouldn’t work during a major fire, and these single-bulb devices were difficult to see through smoke, making it difficult to be distinguished from regular safety signs. Eventually, letter size increased, and exit signs utilized backlit words.

Lighting Change

Early exit signs’ bulbs typically looked dim under normal conditions. Over the decades, the industry started switching to fluorescent and light-emitting diode (LED) lights. These lights were brighter, used less energy, and offered an increased visibility through the smoke. Additionally, lifespan was extended by at least a decade, reducing the frequency of necessary replacement. There are also phosphorescent signs that use glowing phosphors and radioluminescent signs that use radioactive decay to provide illumination.

Battery Breakthroughs

Batteries used for older models were bulky and inefficient, often resulting in unsafe conditions after a blackout or emergency. But luckily for all of us, batteries have made significant progress over the years. They have become less expensive, more compact, recharge quickly, and hold a lot more power. Modern exit signs are equipped with a backup battery to keep the systems lit even when the power is out.

The Exit Store

You may look up right now and see an exit sign, but don’t leave yet! Contact The Exit store today to learn more about our emergency exit signs and photoluminescent exit signs.