NEMA produces a white paper describing ideal exit sign brightness for visibility and safety

Dec. 11, 2003
Paper summarizes visibility research results, includes recommendations for exit-sign visibility

ROSSLYN, Va. When minimum luminance requirements for exit signs were eliminated from NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, and related standard UL 924, Emergency Lighting and Power Equipment, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) sought to ensure that all available exit sign technologies would provide adequate, prompt and safe outlets from

buildings in case of an emergency, particularly in a smoky or hazy environment. To inform and alert designers, building code officials, and other authorities having jurisdiction, NEMA produced a white paper LSD 13, Exit Sign Brightness for Visibility and Safety, which provides comparative

data on brightness among existing exit sign technologies.

This paper provides a brief background on life safety codes and standards requirements, reviews exit sign technologies relative to brightness, summarizes visibility research results, and provides recommendations for the visibility of exit signs to promote safety.

"NEMA's immediate objective was to assemble the most effective technological solutions for meeting exit sign safety requirements," says NEMA President Malcolm O'Hagan. "Properly illuminated equipment that meets industry standards can make a significant difference in reducing hazardous conditions in the event of an emergency."

The white paper also includes research conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Lighting Research Center, and a study by the Canadian Standards Association, which evaluated the brightness of various exit signs.

An electronic copy of this document can be downloaded free of charge from NEMA's Web site at