A Guide To Visual Alarm Colours

What colour should an alarm system’s beacon be? When selecting the appropriate colours for an application, it is important to consider that the colours need to be clearly understood by everyone without prior knowledge.

Traffic light systems are commonplace on the roads and their colours transfer across to visual indicators in many applications.

Red indicates ‘stop’ or a hazard/danger is present. Amber beacons encourage awareness. Cranford’s green beacons are less popular but are still used for ‘safe’ or ‘all clear’ signalling.

Blue signalling variants are most commonly used in security alarms applications due to the association with emergency services. Which brings attention to the importance of ensuring visual fire signals are distinguishable from other signals present within a building.

Clarity can be achieved with labelling Visual Alarm Devices with “FIRE”.

VAD Colour Requirements

In EN54-23, the standard that defines the requirements for Visual Alarm Devices, it states that VADs shall emit a white or red flashing light.

Despite red being associated with danger or fire, white light is a colour option for VADs as it is brighter and more visible over long distances. Coverage specifications of VAD products are typically greater in the white flash options which can reduce the number required in an install.

White light has additional advantages as it includes a broader spectrum of colours so more visible to those with colour blindness. This also helps in industrial applications where tinted eye protection is more likely to be worn.

The LPCB Code of Practice does highlight situations where another colour VAD may be necessary to signal alarm stages. To assist in these applications, Amber VADs variants are available upon request.

Photosensitive Epilepsy 

Particular care needs to be taken when VADs are used in hospitals and health care premises where those with photosensitive epilepsy may be occupants. Guidance is that red light is more likely to result in seizures than white (or other coloured) flashing lights so white flash VADs are preferable.

Red, Amber & Blue Coloured Beacons

What Do You Need To Know?

Red is associated with hazards & danger

red Light is more likely to result in reduces seizures

labelling fire alarms can distinguish from other visual signals

white Light Can Provide greater coverage

Amber is used in staged alarms 

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