Which signal colour is suitable for which type of light beacon? 

 December 15, 2022

Most of us see some kind of light beacon daily. Whether in the dash of your car, at traffic lights, in emergency vehicles, at work, or home. Light beacons and their colours have been standardized to make things uniform so what they signalled is easily recognized and understood. Companies are expected to use the correct light beacon and colour in the right situation, but how do you know what that is? Let’s look at what the colours mean and the types of light beacons needed for certain applications.




By standardising the meanings of the colours in light beacons, it doesn’t matter where you are, what industry you are in, or if you are a public member; you know immediately what the light beacon is signalling. For example, the red in a traffic light means to stop, and green means go, and we all understand this. These same meanings for the colours carry over to other light beacon applications. The following are the colours used in light beacons and their universal meanings:


  • Green – all clear, systems as normal.


  • Amber or yellow – caution, slow down, take care.


  • Red – fire, danger, stop, get out, immediate intervention needed.


  • Magenta/purple – danger, stop, get out, immediate intervention needed. Most commonly used in the mining industry, where the red light beacon is exclusively used to signal fire.


  • Blue – action required. Most commonly used in the security sector are burglar alarms and police vehicles.


  • White – does not signal an action but more signals the presence or location or something.


Except for the magenta light beacon, the colours are well-known and understood by most of society. Regarding visibility, the white and amber light beacons can be seen at a greater distance.


Types of beacons


Light beacons come in different shapes and sizes. For example, they can be domes for the top of a vehicle or machinery, in a tower like traffic lights, or in shapes like lettering. They can be run on mains electricity, battery, or solar power. You can get them with LED lights, halogen bulbs, or xenon ones. Light beacons can strobe, flash, be continuous, rotate, or come as a combination.


Which one?


Traffic lights use flashing, and continuous light beacons, police and emergency vehicles use flashing light beacons, and lighthouses use rotating beacons. The only way to get the right light beacons is to understand their application, their position, how far they need to signal and for how long. The alternative is to get expert advice from somewhere like RS.


To keep your workforce safe, you must use the correct signal colour and the correct type of light beacon. Getting it wrong can be costly in more ways than one, so follow the light beacon safety standards and regulations. With RS and safety light beacons, your company will be on the right track to maintaining an accident-free workplace.

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