News and Information for Public Egress, Building Safety and Government Compliance
The steps to installing an exit sign vary from unit to unit. However, there are 7 universal things to consider before installing your next exit sign.
Most electronics don’t like high temperatures. This is true for exit signs. Components within exit signs and the wiring leading to the system will suffer damage if placed near a heater. It might be impossible to repair heat damage in some cases, and it could present safety concerns.
Exit signs will last longer if they are kept out of reach of people and machines. To prevent tampering or impact, additional precautions can be taken. You can install a steel cage around your exit sign to provide additional protection. You could even purchase a vandal resistant exit sign, which is a unit that has built in protections from vandalism.
One important thing to remember when adding accessories to protect or enhance your exit sign is that not all accessories coincide with every exit sign. Be sure to consult your manual or instructions before accessorizing.
Your exit sign probably isn’t rated for outdoor use. Keep inside unless the instruction manual or instructions indicate otherwise.
Your exit signs need to stay lit for 1.5 hours in the event of a power outage. The backup batteries installed on many exit signs help you to meet and exceed OSHA’s regulation. However, those batteries need to be treated with care. Before installing your unit, charge the battery first. It will keep you from needing to do maintenance on your exit sign in the near future.
If maintenance is required on the battery for your exit sign, be careful. Even though most batteries are sealed, the term is relative. Every battery can leak. If you come into contact with battery acid, flush with water right away and contact a medical health professional.
The tools to install your exit signs can vary, but there are a few common things you’ll need: Philips-head screwdriver, flat-head screwdriver and a ladder.
This is important. Installing an exit sign incorrectly can burn the circuit board, ruining the unit. Following the instructions or manual will save you headaches and time. If no manual or instructions are present, or you have misplaced them, there is likely a customer service number printed on the packaging you can call for assistance.
Mounting your exit sign before connecting to the wiring will not only keep you save, but it will save you time. If there isn’t a fixture wired for your exit sign, you may want to consider getting the help of an electrician, as wiring will need to be run to the exit sign.
Each exit sign is different. There may or may not be more steps to consider when installing. If the installation process seems like a heavy burden, you can always use self-illuminating exit signs. These signs do not require electricity, eliminating the need of the most difficult steps of installation.
Because fires, power outages and other dangers are uncalled for, your exit signs have to be ready to pass the test. Prepare for critical events with two checks: one monthly and one annually. Following the two test schedules will ensure your exit signs are ready for danger.
The monthly tests are simple, lasting 30 seconds or more. For your exit signs to pass the monthly test, they need to maintain the minimum illuminations standard for 30 seconds or more. During these thirty seconds, the exit sign must use its backup power only, as you are simulating a power outage.
The monthly test is simple, but the second test, the annual 90 minute inspection, requires more work. Like the 30 second test, the 90 minute test determines if your system can maintain the minimum illumination standards while using only backup power. Backup power is likely to come from a battery, which must last for the entire duration of 90 minutes along with the lamp and other components.
The Easiest Test
Modern exit signs make monthly testing easy. The test switches built into units simulate power outages. By holding the switch for 30 seconds, you can determine if your light maintains illumination standards while using only the battery for power.
If you have an older exit sign, you may not want to trust this method. The components in older models that shut off the flow from the main power source have been known to fail. Because most systems require you to hold the button throughout the test, the built in test switch is not effective for the 90 minute test.
The Easy Test
The second method isn’t as easy, but simple. To start, unplug the exit sign from the power source. Cut off from its power, the exit sign will use its battery to stay lit. There are two downsides to this method. You could forget to plug in the exit sign after the test, and you could put your battery through a deep discharge if it’s left unplugged for too long. A deep discharge occurs when your battery is drained too low, decreasing its lifespan.
The Hard Way
Unfortunately the most cumbersome method also happens to be the best. Shutting off your circuit breaker controlling the power to the exit sign simulates a power outage. This testing method works great if all or most of your emergency lights connect to one circuit breaker. For the test to work, the breaker needs to be off for 90 minutes, which creates a problem when the breaker connects to essential equipment.
Does all this talk about testing have you on edge? Relax. Emergency lighting and exit signs are reliable. The batteries powering the units have a shelf life of 5 to 10 years depending on the type of battery you use.
If your unit is new, it will likely pass the test easily, but test anyway. Conditions specific to your environment can cause your systems to malfunction. To make sure you pass your next test, we recommend you have a quality exit sign that requires little maintenance throughout its lifetime. LED exit signs have proven themselves reliable and self-illuminating exit signs simplify the testing process.