Illuminated Exit Signs


An illuminated exit sign is designed to be permanently fixed in place to identify an exit.


Traditionally, exit signs used small incandescent bulbs.  However, these signs operate all the time, making energy use high.  For example, a 40 W exit sign will cost $35/year to operate at an electricity cost of 10 cents/kWh.  To address this high energy use, manufacturers first developed compact fluorescent exit signs (typically using around 13 W) and then developed LED (light emitting diode) exit signs (typically using 3-4 W).  The LED signs were promoted by the Energy Star program and many utility and state programs.  California and other states then adopted standards requiring use of exit signs using no more than 5 W per face (e.g. 5 W for a one direction sign, 10 W for a sign that faces two different directions).  Congress made this a national standard in 2005, with the standard taking effect in January 2006.

Illuminated Exit Sign documentation can be found in EPAct 2005.

Projected Savings

Illuminated Exit Sign Standards of 2005
Savings through what year?:
Energy saved (quads):
CO2 savings (million metric tons):
Net present value savings ($billion) 3% discount rate:
Net present value savings ($billion) 7% discount rate:


Federal Date States
2008 AZ Standard Effective *
2007 WA Standard Effective *
2007 NJ Standard Effective *
2007 RI Standard Effective *
2007 OR Standard Effective *
2006 CT Standard Effective *
1st Federal Standard Effective 2006
2005 MD Standard Effective
EPACT Initial Federal Legislation Enacted 2005
2005 WA Standard Adopted
2005 NJ Standard Adopted
2005 AZ Standard Adopted
2005 RI Standard Adopted
2005 OR Standard Adopted
2005 NY Standard Adopted
1st Federal Standard Adopted (Congress) 2005
2004 CT Standard Adopted
2004 MD Standard Adopted
2003 CA Standard Effective
2002 CA Standard Adopted

* State standard never went into effect due to preemption by federal standard.

States not showing an effective date have an ongoing rulemaking process to determine standards.

Timeline reflects state standards from 2001 to present; federal standards from inception to present.