NATIONAL REPORT—Every hotel owner is required to provide exit signage throughout the hotel. Many exit signs today use incandescent and fluorescent/compact fluorescent lighting technology. These older signs consume more than 350 kilowatt-hours and cost $28 each annually to operate. They also require frequent maintenance because of the short life span of the lamps that light them.
Thanks to light-emitting diode (LED) technology, hoteliers need not spend as much money on energy and maintenance. Many manufacturers today sell exit signs that incorporate LED lighting that are easy to install and maintain. These exit signs start at about $40 a piece—depending on the manufacturer or distributor—but the return on investment is fast. An exit sign with an ENERGY STAR label will use only 44 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and costs less than $4 annually to operate.
In addition to using less energy and saving on maintenance time, LEDs found in exit signs also last longer—as long as 10 to 25 years compared to less than a year for compact fluorescents and less than three months for incandescents. For the environment, the benefits are tremendous. The amount of carbon dioxide generated annually by a power plant to power an incandescent bulb is 574 pounds; for an LED system the amount of carbon dioxide is just 72 pounds.
From a safety perspective, LED exit signs are usually brighter than comparable incandescent or fluorescent signs, and have greater contrast with their background. LED lighting comes in two colors: green or red. Many exit signs come with a battery back-up or offer this feature as an option. Some localities may require this.
Where can one find LED exit signs? Aside from working with a purchasing company, a simple Google search on “LED exit signs” produces a long list of vendors. One vendor, Grainger, sells both signs and LED retrofit kits to replace incandescent lamps. Grainger’s signs start at $80 and go up from there. Retrofit kits start at $40. Based on energy savings alone of about $24 a year, payback on a retrofit would be less than two years and a little more than three years for a complete sign change. Considering the time and labor saved from having to change lighting, the payback period actually would be much less.
The Home Depot Supply, Exit Light Co. and Pegasus Associates are three other vendors to consider for LED exit signs.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.