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NEMA Launches Premium Exit Sign Program

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Emergency Lighting Section has launched its Premium Exit Sign Program, which establishes standards for and encourages the use of high-performance exit signage.

Unlike other NEMA Premium programs, this effort does not focus strictly on energy efficiency. Instead, the goal of the NEMA Premium Exit Sign Program is to increase visibility and attract attention. The program is managed by NEMA and is driven largely by the requirements set forth in NEMA EM 1 Exit Sign Visibility Testing Requirements for Safety and Energy Efficiency, a standard maintained by the Emergency Lighting Section.

Prior to the creation of this program, the only discerning mark used on exit signs was that of the ENERGY STAR program. That exit sign program, which was based solely on energy efficiency, was terminated a few years ago after federal mandatory minimum efficiency requirements were established. Even though new signs were better performers, many people tried to buy products that were labeled as ENERGY STAR compliant, erroneously thinking they were better because of the brand recognition. Essentially anything labeled as such was old stock.

Now, all exit signs sold in the U.S. must consume less than 5W of power per sign face. This change in labeling left a void in the marketplace since many consumers prefer to acquire and use products that are in some way or ways a step above others. The NEMA Emergency Lighting Section responded to this need first by writing and publishing NEMA EM 1 and has followed through by creating a program by which high-performance products can be recognized and encouraged.

According to Eric Bailey, chair of the Emergency Lighting Section, the NEMA Premium exit sign program has established a minimum level of visibility almost twice that of the UL 924 Emergency Lighting and Power Equipment.

“There are strict limits for evenly illuminated sign faces. Testing is accomplished using analytical, repeatable equipment to ensure the signs meet these requirements,” he said. “By purchasing NEMA Premium exit signs you are guaranteed the most visible signs available.”

Any exit sign manufacturer may apply to this program, regardless of NEMA membership.

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Craig DiLouie


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