How To Mount Emergency Lights and Exit Signs

How To Mount Emergency Lights and Exit Signs

Mounting your exit sign or emergency light can be relatively simple, especially if you have any experience with hanging or mounting other objects, or basic tool knowledge.  Most lights or sign will come with instructions.  If they do not, most manufacturers will have a customer service number that you can call to get assistance with your particular model.


Emergency Light

Industrial emergency lights back mount to all types of non-flammable surfaces.

When mounting an emergency light, it is important to consult an electrician if you are unfamiliar with  the proper safety procedures.  An emergency light will be connected to the electrical wiring of a building or residence, so that it can sense when the power goes out.  In the even of an outage, or the tripping of a breaker, the unit will be signaled to come on and have ninety minutes of backup power to illuminate the path to an exit.

Of course, it is extremely important that the breaker your emergency light is connected to be tripped before installing your emergency light to avoid shock and possible electrocution.  Before disabling the power, check to see that any backup batteries in the unit have been installed correctly.  Once the power is off, the instruction will guide you in connecting the power properly.

Instructions for installing the models offered are included with every unit. Make sure the circuit you are installing the emergency light into is turned OFF before performing any installation procedure.

Either 2 or 3 connections will need to be made into your electrical system for an emergency light to be installed correctly. Installing an emergency light incorrectly can burn out the transformer and circuit board, causing the unit to become inoperable and broken.

First, identify the electrical voltage of the connection that is being made to the emergency light fixture, either 120 or 277 volt. Next, examine the connections on the unit, there will be 3 or 4 wires which will be colored and labeled:

  • 120v wire (black)
  • 277v wire (red)
  • Common wire (white)
  • Ground wire (green - not included on all models)

Connect the correct voltage wire and the common wire to the electrical conduit. Connect the ground wire if your emergency light fixture requires it. DO NOT CONNECT BOTH THE 120V an 277V WIRES - UNIT WILL MALFUNCTION.

Power the circuit on and let the emergency light and its battery backup system charge for 24 hours before testing the battery backup to its full, 90 minute capability.


If your wall is not already wired for the fixture, your will need to consult an electrician to run the necessary wiring.  Depending on the unit, you will generally mount the unit or partially mount it before connecting the wiring.  The wiring uses 120 or 277v AC electrical power.   This allows the battery to be charged while on the building power supply, and then goes directly to  battery power if the building power stop.

Steel Emergency Light

Steel emergency light fixtures feature sturdy construction, a five-year warranty, and compliant across the USA.

Most emergency lights use mounting brackets for installation, others have preformed areas for screws to be attached to wall studs through the back.  It is important to familiarize yourself with your particular model and its instructions for mounting.  Usually once screws, or screws and brackets, have been used to mount the unit, these and the wiring will be covered by a housing of metal or thermoplastic.


Emergency Exit Combo Sign

Emergency Exit Combo Signs are an easy and effective solution for applications requiring both an exit sign and an emergency light.

Many of the the same considerations used for mounting an emergency light come into play when mounting an exit sign.  It must be determined whether the sign will be connected to both building power and a backup generator, or just to the building power.  Depending on the design, some exit signs will have a side mounting bracket that leads to a light from which the sign hangs.  Other sign will be screwed into the studs  through the back of the sign and the faceplate slid in front to cover the bulb and housing.  As with the emergency light, if the area has not already been wired for the sign, you will need to consult an electrician.


Again, be sure that the power has been turned off before mounting the exit sign. Electrical LED exit signs install using 120 or 277v power and feature a battery backup system similar to emergency lights. Exit signs use nickel cadmium (NiCad) emergency light batteries that are smaller than the lead acid batteries within emergency lights.

Perhaps the easiest sign to mount is the self-luminous exit sign, which is powered by tritium. A self-luminous, tritium exit sign does not require connection to the building power source or generator because it is self-luminous.  You will merely need to mount the sign to the wall studs as directed and it is ready to go.  Please consult the manufacturer of your particular light or sign with specific mounting questions about your model.

It is important to develop a plan for the most effective placement and use of your emergency lights before installation is done. Emergency lighting units are not cheap for any facility owner or manager, not only are you responsible for the cost effectiveness of your building, but you also have to do so according to all government regulations.


In accordance with the numerous emergency lighting requirements that deal with placement, youíre insisted by law to install emergency lights in all areas where personnel are likely to be found, and all egress routes (exit routes/pathways) from the building, up to public area (sidewalks and streets) or safe assembly areas. This inherently means the following areas need to be lighted:

  • All work areas
  • All office, vestibules, and waiting areas
  • All corridors
  • All sales areas
  • All exterior walkways up to the public way


Emergency Light

Emergency Lights Co. manufactures and sells a wide variety of emergency lights, including thermoplastic, steel, and wet location outdoor models.


OSHA codes and regulations stipulate that the entire egress route be lighted to a minimum level of 1 candlepower measures at a height of 1 foot above the floor. It is important to consider this at all times before installation of any emergency lighting. The space between lighting models depends on the amount of light (measured in lumens) supplied by that particular lighting unit. As far as the actual light produced is depended on the wattage, voltage and efficiency of the bulb, we cannot provide you an accurate distance between fixtures, because every application calls for a different solution.


Every area where visitors or personnel to the building are to be present must be illuminated by emergency lighting in the event of an emergency or complete power loss to the building. Inherently this means that all corridors to all exits must also be illuminated in conjunction with the exit doors themselves. In addition, walkways on the exterior of the facility leading from those egress points to a public way (sidewalks, streets) or a secure assembly area must also be lighted.


Finding the right professional to install emergency lights can save you a lot of time, money and aggravation.  There are several questions to ask when selecting an installation professional.  The first question is do I need a professional?

The best person for some lighting jobs may be looking at you in the mirror.  If you purchase a light that is a standard emergency light for a new or retrofit project, you may be able to install it yourself.  In many states, if you are the owner of your property you can serve as your own general contractor.  There is often a cost limit on whether or not not your need a building permit, for instance under $500.



If you have decided that the project is too lofty for you to tackle or you just don't want to mess with it, ask these questions:  Have I hired any electricians in the past?  Was I satisfied with their price and workmanship?  If you don't know any electricians, the next best step is to ask friends or family for electricians they have hired.  If you still can't find any that you are comfortable with, check with the Better Business Bureau or online with sites such as, that allow people to rate contractors and other service providers.  It is important to hire an electrician who is bonded and insured.

It is also important the the electrician be experienced in the type of project you are hiring him or her for, namely installing an emergency light.  Always ask for references, and check with those references.  You will want to find out the cost, the quality of work, the time it took, if the house was left clean or messy, and the general quality of service provided.  It is also important to get a quote from at least three professionals.  Quotes can vary widely as can quality of work and they are not always related, although they can be.  It is also important to be aware of the structural material.


If you live in an older house your walls could be plaster rather than drywall.  It can be a much more ambitious job to wire a plaster wall because there is the potential for cracking, and because there is plaster lathe behind the wall in addition to the wall studs.  Also if you alter the wiring in an older house, you may incur the expense of having to update all wiring to the current code regulations.  Be sure to discuss this with your contractor when obtaining a bid.

When hiring a professional for a commercial or industrial setting, it is important not to overlook current employees.  Often a commercial or industrial company can have several licensed electricians on staff that will be able to perform the task adequately.  For smaller companies who will need to hire an outside contractor, current or former contacts can be utilized.  It is also important not to overlook recommendations from affiliate companies or from the Better Business Bureau.

Be sure to check with your facilities manager to make the contractor aware of any structural or environmental concerns before installing the emergency lighting and always be sure that a permit has been obtained when necessary.  Once you find a good electrician be sure to write down his information so that you can use him again and recommend him to all of your friends.


In conclusion any are where people are anticipated to be demands emergency lighting, this can lead to a large number of emergency light fixtures. While offices designed for single occupants may not required to install emergency lighting, they must have the corridor outside of the office properly lit. In Lager Rooms, such as a warehouse or industrial building, perimeter illumination of the room may not be enough. In these applications, lighting units will have to be interspersed throughout the room, either attached to the ceiling or columns.

In warehouse applications, which typically have high ceilings, its more commonsensical to attach the emergency lighting to the storage racks in the warehouse, roughly 10 feet above floor level. This prevents dissipation of the light before it reaches its destination, where it is needed most. Again, careful planning must be taken into consideration before mounting lights to your racks to insure that they will not become damaged during regular operation of the facility.

In corridors, emergency lights should be placed close enough to insure that light from one unit somewhat overlaps the next unit; essentially this will prevent an are from being below the minimum requirement levels.


Please call 404-224-9365 right now for more information, to request a quote, or place an order. Our friendly staff is here 24/7 to help you with any need related to emergency lighting products, applications, and compliance. Installing emergency lighting fixtures has never been easier with help from Emergency Lights Co.

If you need more help installing your signs check out our step by step tutorial HERE