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Tritium versus photoluminescent exit signs
Exit Signs have typically been lit using electricity in combination with incandescent light bulbs. Earlier we discussed how LED technology is the ever increasingly popular choice for lighting electrical signs due to length of bulb life and energy efficiency. Are there instances when an electrical sign is too troublesome to install? What do you do when you can not run electricity to the area required to light the sign? When physical limitations of the room make electrical installation cost prohibitive there are two options: Tritium and Photoluminescence. The two sign technologies are very different in their approach to the problem, however, they share at least one characteristic: they do not need to be wired into an electrical source in order to operate.
Tritium As An Electrical Sign Alternative
Tritium is a gas that is radioactive and glows without the need for any external source of light or electricity. The gas is stored in clear hard tubes shaped in the form of the word EXIT and usually is accompanied by a thin colored face plate that has knocked out letters so that the tubes are able to glow through. There has been some controversy caused by these signs due to how they are illuminated: using a radioactive gas. Sounds kinda scary, but before you go nuclear on me, despite the hype, the signs are harmless. Many electrical sign manufactures have stirred the pot concerning the technology because it is a viable alternative to electrical signs and thus they have a vested interest in its downfall. For more information on the 'dangers' of tritium signs visit our Tritium Questions Page, an area where we address the claims concerning tritium signs. The gas is able to glow for various lengths depending on the model of sign selected : 10, 15, and 20 years. Most retailers do not carry the 15 year model due to the close cost/benefit equivalency of the 20 year module. The sign can be outfitted with some nice accessories depending on the situation. There are really only two times you would concern yourself with the maintenance of a tritium sign, when you install it and when it expires. When the sign expires it needs to be disposed of properly. Properly means, returned to the manufacturer to be recycled. The recycle process is not free but is dramatically reduced in price should you replace the sign with another during the process. Most manufacturers will gladly handle the task. If you have signs that need to be recycled, call us and we can take care of it for you.
When would you use a Tritium sign?
This option is most viable when you combine any of the following characteristics: getting electricity to the room is costly, the room is not able to sustain an electrical spark due to flammability, the room is very dark for periods at a time such a movie theatre, or your electrician went on strike. There is one very interesting feature of the self-lit exit sign, and that is this: you do not need to pay for an electrician to install it, replace parts, such a backup battery or a bulb, and you do not need to perform the required emergency operation electricity disconnect test. How much are electrician's charging these days for an install, maintenance and retro-fitting? The cost of the non-electrical tritium sign appears significantly greater on the surface with an up front cost of $120-$300, however, when you compare the total cost of ownership over a longer period of time you will see return on investment. If you can not run the electricity due to costs the decision is made for you, you will need a non-electrical sign. What if you do have electricity, is it a viable option? The question to ask yourself is, how long do you plan on being in the building and is that long enough to enjoy the benefits of the non-electrical sign? So there is a trade off here, a larger up front cost for no ongoing costs for the life of the sign until disposal. Herein lies the benefit of the photoluminescent sign, the up front costs are lower and there is no disposal requirements.
Photoluminescent Exit Signs