June 21, 2024

Do All Exit Signs Need To Be Illuminated?

Author:  Nick Celenza

Exit signs are a crucial part of any building’s safety setup. They guide people to safety during emergencies like fires, power outages, or other urgent situations. A common question often arises: do all exit signs need to be illuminated? This blog will explain the regulations, types, and maintenance of illuminated exit signs according to Australian standards. 

Our goal is to help property owners and managers understand the importance of compliance and safety, especially regarding emergency lighting. PWA Electrical Services is here to help you navigate these requirements and ensure your building remains safe and compliant.

Do All Exit Signs Need To Be Illuminated
Importance of Exit Signs

What is Legally Required For Commercial Properties?

In Australia, the National Construction Code (NCC) and the Australian Standard AS 2293.1 outline the requirements for emergency and exit lighting in buildings. These regulations state that all exit routes must be marked, and exit signs must be illuminated at all times to ensure visibility, even during a power outage. 

The NCC specifies the performance requirements for the emergency lighting system and illuminated exit signs to ensure they provide adequate visibility and direction during an evacuation. So, do all exit signs need to be illuminated? To have your property up to Australian standards, yes, they do.

exit sign installation

Do Different Buildings Have Different Requirements?

Different classes of buildings have specific requirements for illuminated exit signs and emergency lights. For example:

Commercial Buildings:

  • Must have exit and emergency lighting that is visible and placed at strategic locations to guide people to safety.
  • Ensure all escape routes, external stairways, corridors, and exits are well-illuminated.


Residential Buildings: 

  • Larger residential buildings, such as apartment complexes, may require emergency exit lights, particularly in common areas and escape routes
  • Install emergency lights in hallways, stairwells, and near exit doors to ensure safe evacuation during emergencies.
  • While smaller residential buildings may not be legally required to have emergency lighting, installing them is still the best practice to enhance safety for all occupants.


Industrial Buildings: 

  • High-risk areas such as factories and warehouses must have robust and highly visible illuminated exit signs to ensure worker safety.
  • Install emergency lighting in all key areas, including production floors, storage areas, and any hazardous zones.
  • Design lighting to withstand challenging conditions, such as dust, vibrations, and extreme temperatures, commonly found in industrial settings.
Importance of Electric Exit Signs

The Importance of Electric Exit Signs

Electric exit signs are powered by the building’s electrical system and typically have a backup battery to ensure they remain illuminated during a power outage. These types of exit signs are ideal for areas that need high visibility and have a reliable power source. They can be further categorised into:

  • LED Exit Signs: These are energy-efficient and have a long lifespan. They are the most common type of electric exit signs used today.
  • Incandescent Exit Signs: These are less common due to their higher energy consumption and shorter lifespan.




  • Bright and highly visible
  • Reliable during power outages (with battery backup)
  • Available in various designs and styles




  • Higher initial cost
  • Require regular maintenance and battery replacement
  • Depends on electrical power
Lighting Installation and Maintenance

Lighting Installation and Maintenance

Proper installation of illuminated exit signs is crucial for their effectiveness. Here are some best practices:

  • Placement: Place exit signs at all exit doors, intersections, and along escape routes to guide people to safety. In a building with a fire-isolated stairway or external balcony, ensure that exit signs are visible.
  • Visibility: Ensure that exit signs are not obstructed by furniture, decorations, or other objects.
  • Height: Install exit signs at a height where they can be easily seen by occupants, typically above doorways or high on walls.

The key to having your exit signs working properly is getting them installed by a professional team, like our licensed electricians at PWA Electrical Services. Each of our team is up to date on all Australian commercial building codes and we can guarantee that your exit signs and emergency lighting will be done quickly and efficiently.

Maintenance Tips to Ensure Signs Remain Functional and Compliant

Regular maintenance of illuminated exit signs, done by a professional team to uphold your Australian standards, is essential to ensure they function correctly in an emergency. Here are some tips:

  • 6-Monthly Inspections: Check the functionality of electric exit signs, including the operation of backup batteries, especially after harsh weather conditions and power outages.
  • Annual Testing: Conduct a full system test at least once a year to ensure all components are working correctly.
  • Cleaning: Keep exit signs clean and free from dust and debris to ensure maximum visibility.

Our team at PWA Electrical Services can schedule maintenance checks for your property, to give you peace of mind and ensure everything is working as it should.

Initial Costs vs Long-Term Benefits

While the initial installation of illuminated exit signs may involve an initial cost outlay, the long-term benefits and savings outweigh these expenses. Electric exit signs, particularly LED types, are energy-efficient and have a long lifespan, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.

Hamersley electricians

When To Get In The Professionals

Hiring a commercial electrician, like our team at PWA Electrical Services, for the installation and maintenance of illuminated exit signs is crucial to ensure compliance with safety regulations and building codes. Our team will ensure:

  • Proper Installation: We correctly install exit signs to meet regulatory requirements and maximise visibility.
  • Conduct Regular Maintenance: We perform regular inspections and maintenance to keep exit signs in optimal working condition.
  • Troubleshoot Issues: We identify and resolve any issues with illuminated exit signs promptly.
Ensure Your Building’s Safety with PWA Electrical Services

Ensure Your Building’s Safety with PWA Electrical Services

Illuminated exit signs are a vital component of any building’s safety measures. They provide essential guidance during emergencies, ensuring that occupants can find their way to safety. Understanding the legal requirements, types, and maintenance of illuminated exit signs according to Australian standards is crucial for compliance and safety. 

To answer the question of ‘do all exit signs need to be illuminated?’, as this blog has broken down, yes, for your property to be held up to Australian standards, all exit signs and emergency lights need to be lit. This ensures that exit signs are always visible, guiding people safely during emergencies and complying with legal requirements.

Get in touch with our team of licensed commercial electricians today at PWA Electrical Services to see just how we can help you.