Illuminated Exit Signs



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


Current standards for illuminated exit signs were adopted by Congress in in EPAct 2005 and went into effect in 2006. The standards require maximum energy use of 5 Watts (W) per face (e.g. 5 W for a one direction sign, 10 W for a sign that faces two different directions).

California first adopted state standards for exit signs in 2002, effective in 2003. Eight additional states (AZ, CT, MD, NJ, NY, OR, RI, WA) adopted the CA standards, though all standards but those in Maryland were preempted by the national standards before taking effect.


Illuminated exit signs are required by safety codes in commercial buildings. There are millions of these signs in place in buildings across the US in continuous operation. Manufacturers can utilize light-emitting diode technology (LED) to meet the standard.



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.