Do you want to attract your dream customers? Using attention-grabbing signage is one way to do that but people are often confused when it comes to choosing between LED and Neon signs. There are numerous benefits associated with using the right sign and this guide aims to help you understand the differences between LED and Neon signs so you can take your time and carefully consider your options before making a decision between LED and neon signs.
LED Technology and How it Works
So, have you ever wondered how LED lights work? LED stands for “light-emitting diode,” which is a type of semiconductor device that converts electrical energy into light.
LEDs are made of two types of materials called “p-type” and “n-type” semiconductors, which are put together to form a junction. When a voltage is applied to the junction, electrons and holes (positively charged “absences” of electrons) combine and release energy in the form of photons, which are particles of light. This process is called “electroluminescence.”
By combining different materials and varying the voltage applied to the junction, it’s possible to create LEDs that emit a wide range of colors.
Why Choose LED Signs?
1. Energy Efficiency
LED signs use up to 80% less energy than neon signs, making them a more eco-friendly option. Not only that, but LED signs can also help you save money on your energy bills in the long run. LED lights generate less heat, which can reduce your energy consumption and cooling costs.
LEDs are designed to emit light in a specific direction, which makes them more efficient at directing the light where it’s needed, such as on a sign. This is known as directional lighting, and it helps to reduce wasted light and energy.
- Dimming capabilities: LED signs with dimming capabilities can adjust the brightness of the sign according to the time of day or lighting conditions. For example, a sign may be brighter during the day and dimmer at night.
- Motion sensors: LED signs equipped with motion sensors can detect when there is no activity in the vicinity of the sign and automatically turn off or reduce the brightness of the sign. This can be particularly useful for signs in areas that are not always busy, such as in a parking lot or at the entrance of a business.
- Automatic shut-off timers: LED signs can also be programmed to turn off at certain times of the day, such as at closing time or during off-peak hours. This helps to ensure that the sign is not using unnecessary energy when it’s not needed.
2. Brightness and Color Options
The color of the light is determined by the materials used in the semiconductor, and different materials emit different wavelengths of light. By combining different materials, LED manufacturers can create a wide range of colors.
There are two main types of semiconductors used in LED technology:
- Gallium nitride (GaN)
- Indium gallium nitride (InGaN).
These semiconductors are used to create different colors of light based on the wavelength of the emitted light.
For example, blue LEDs are made with GaN semiconductors, which emit a wavelength of light of around 470 nanometers (nm).
Green LEDs, on the other hand, are typically made with InGaN semiconductors, which emit a wavelength of light of around 520 nm. Red LEDs use a different material called aluminum gallium indium phosphide (AlGaInP), which emits light at a longer wavelength of around 630 nm.
By combining these different materials and wavelengths, LED manufacturers can create a wide range of colors.
3. Durability and Low Maintenance
LED lights are made up of solid-state components, which means there are no delicate glass tubes or gases that can break or leak over time.
LED signs are built to last, with a lifespan of up to 100,000 hours, compared to just 30,000 hours for neon signs. This means that if an LED is used for 8 hours a day, it can last for up to 34 years.LED is made up of layers of semiconductor materials that produce light when an electric current is applied. These layers are protected by a durable plastic or epoxy casing that shields them from environmental factors like dust, moisture, and heat.
As a result, LED strips are highly resistant to shock and vibration, and they can operate at low temperatures without affecting their performance.
4. Flexibility in Design and Animation
When it comes to designing your business sign, you want to make sure it looks as eye-catching as possible. With LED signs, you have the freedom to create a custom design and animation that perfectly captures your business’s personality.
LED signs also offer more design options than neon signs because they can be made from LED strips rather than bulky glass tubes. LED strips are thin, lightweight, and highly flexible, which allows them to be easily bent and shaped into virtually any design or form.
Challenges of LED Signs
You want to be sure to factor in the upfront cost when deciding which type of sign is right for you. LED signs generally have a higher initial price tag compared to neon signs, which can be a concern for businesses on a tight budget although you may end up saving money in the long run.
1. Limited Viewing Angles
When it comes to LED signs, one potential drawback is the limited viewing angles. This means that if you’re not directly facing the sign, the visibility and legibility of the message may be compromised. This can be especially problematic if you’re trying to attract customers from different directions.
When an LED light is placed perpendicular to a surface, it will emit light evenly across that surface. However, when it’s placed at an angle, the light will spread unevenly, resulting in reduced visibility from certain angles.
It’s important to consider the location of the sign and the direction from which people will be viewing it. Keep in mind that this can vary depending on the design and type of LED sign.
2. Possible Heat Dissipation Issues
LED signs generate heat, which can affect their performance and lifespan. LED strip lights are particularly susceptible to heat dissipation issues because they are installed in a narrow channel or a confined space, which makes it difficult for heat to escape. This can cause the temperature to rise and affect the performance of the LED lights over time.
Heat dissipation is the process of transferring heat from a hot object to a cooler object or environment. In the case of LED signs, heat is generated by the diodes that emit light, and if the heat isn’t properly dissipated, it can cause damage to the sign and reduce its lifespan.
To avoid these issues, you need to ensure proper ventilation and cooling for your LED signs. This can involve installing fans or heat sinks to dissipate heat and prevent damage to the LED modules. Failure to address heat dissipation issues can result in reduced brightness, color distortion, and even failure of the LED lights.
3. Concerns about Light Pollution
LED strips emit a lot of blue light, which has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns and circadian rhythms in humans and wildlife. Additionally, the brightness and color temperature of LED strips can be difficult to regulate and control, which can lead to excessive light spillage and glare.
To avoid these issues, you should consider the placement of your LED sign and use appropriate brightness levels and shielded fixtures.
4. How do LED Neon Signs Work?
When the electric current is applied to a gas, it ionizes the gas atoms, causing them to release energy in the form of photons. In the case of neon signs, the gas mixture inside the glass tube is typically composed of neon atoms, which emit red-orange light when ionized.
- The glass tubing used in neon signs is typically made of borosilicate glass, which has a low thermal expansion coefficient and can withstand high temperatures. The tubing is heated and bent into the desired shape using a process called glassblowing. Once the tube has been shaped, it is attached to a vacuum pump and evacuated to remove any impurities.
- After the tube has been evacuated, the gas mixture is introduced into the tube using a vacuum pump and sealed with an electrode at each end. When a high-voltage electrical current is applied to the electrodes, the gas atoms in the tube become ionized and emit light.
- The color of the light emitted by the neon sign depends on the type of gas mixture used in the tube.
- The electrical current required to light a neon sign is relatively high, typically ranging from 3,000 to 15,000 volts. However, the current is low in amperage, usually in the milliamp range. The power supply used to light a neon sign is typically a high-voltage transformer, which steps up the voltage from a lower source voltage.
Why Choose Neon Signs
1. Classic Look and Feel
The warm, glowing light of neon tubes is iconic and timeless, harkening back to a bygone era.
A neon sign has a unique three-dimensional quality that gives it depth and texture. This is because a real glass neon sign is created by bending glass tubing into a specific shape and then filling it with gas, which is excited by the high voltage to produce the characteristic neon glow.
Neon gas is heated and charged with electricity to create a bright, colorful light. And because each gas has its own unique spectral lines, neon signs can be made in a wide variety of colors by using different gases and combinations of gases.
2. Eye-catching Glow and Warm Light
When you walk down a street at night, what catches your eye? It’s the classic look of Neon signs that’s been popular for decades, and it’s still going strong today.
Inside a glass neon sign, there are two electrodes that are connected to a high-voltage power supply. When electricity flows through the electrodes, it excites the neon gas molecules inside the glass tube, causing them to emit light.
The light is diffused and softer than the harsh, direct light of an LED strip. This gives neon signs a cozy, welcoming feel that’s hard to resist.
3. Long Lifespan and Low Maintenance
When an electrical current is applied to a sealed glass tube filled with neon gas, it ionizes the gas and causes it to emit light. Because the glass tube is a vacuum-sealed, airtight environment, there’s no chance for the neon gas to escape or become contaminated over time.
Also, Neon signs don’t have any moving parts, there are fewer things that can go wrong with them.
4. High Visibility in Low-light Environments
Neon signs have a warm glow that is highly visible even in dimly lit areas. This makes them perfect for businesses that operate at night or in poorly lit spaces.
Glass neon signs are made up of thin glass tubes filled with neon gas. When an electric current is applied to the gas, it ionizes and emits light in the visible spectrum. The resulting glow is bright and highly visible, even in low-light conditions.
Challenges of Neon Signs
1. Higher Energy Consumption
Neon signs rely on ionized gas to create their distinctive glow, which requires a lot of power. This is because neon signs are made using glass tubes filled with neon gas, which requires a higher voltage to produce the desired glow.
This means that neon signs can be expensive to operate, especially if you plan on leaving them on for long periods of time.
2. Limited Color Options
Unlike LED strips or LED neon, which can offer a wide range of colors, real glass neon signs are typically limited to the colors produced by the different gases used in the tubes.
This is because the colors of a neon sign are determined by the gases used inside the glass tubes, which emit different colors when excited by an electrical current. Neon gas, for example, produces a bright orange-red color, while argon gas emits a blue hue. To create other colors, such as green or purple, a combination of gases must be used, which can be costly and complicated to produce.
3. Fragility and Susceptibility to Damage
Neon signs are more delicate than LED signs and small cracks or chips in the glass can affect the sign’s performance and lifespan
Extreme heat or cold can cause the gas inside the tubes to expand or contract, which can lead to cracking or other damage.
The gases are highly sensitive to changes in temperature. As the temperature of the gas changes, the pressure inside the glass tube can either increase or decrease, which can cause the tube to expand or contract.
Any changes in the shape or size of the tube can cause the neon gas to move to different parts of the tube, which can affect the overall look and brightness of the sign.
To prevent damage from expansion and contraction, neon signs are typically designed with expansion joints or other mechanisms that allow the gas inside the tube to expand or contract without putting undue pressure on the glass.
4. Higher Cost of Repair and Maintenance
Unlike LED neon strips, which can be easily replaced, repairing a neon sign requires a trained technician to carefully remove the glass tube and replace the broken section, a process that can be quite time-consuming.
- To repair a broken section of a glass neon tube, a skilled technician first needs to remove the damaged section and clean the surrounding area thoroughly. Next, they need to carefully measure and cut a new section of glass tubing to fit precisely into the gap left by the broken section. This requires a high level of precision and attention to detail, as even a slight discrepancy in size or shape can affect the overall look of the sign.
- After the new section of glass tubing has been cut, it needs to be heated and shaped to match the curvature of the existing tubes. This process requires a specialized tool called a ribbon burner, which produces a flame hot enough to heat the glass without melting it completely. The technician needs to be skilled in using this tool to ensure that the new section of glass is shaped accurately and seamlessly.
- Once the new section of glass tubing has been shaped and cooled, the technician can then reattach it to the existing tubes using a specialized adhesive. This process also requires a steady hand and a great deal of patience to ensure that the new section is securely attached and aligned properly with the rest of the sign.
Neon vs LED Strip
|Category||LED Strip||Neon Strip|
|Technology||Uses light-emitting diodes to produce light||Uses electrified, ionized gas to produce light|
|Energy||Low energy consumption||High energy consumption|
|Brightness||Bright and vibrant colors||Soft and warm colors|
|Durability||Durable and low maintenance||Fragile and requires regular maintenance|
|Design||Flexible and customizable design options||Limited design options|
|Cost||Higher upfront cost but lower long-term costs||Lower upfront cost but higher long-term costs|
|Visibility||Visible in daylight and low-light conditions||Highly visible in low-light conditions|
|Eco-friendliness||Environmentally friendly due to low energy consumption||Potentially harmful due to the use of toxic gases|
|Repair||Easy to repair and replace individual components||Requires specialized expertise for repair|
|Brand Image||Ideal for modern, high-tech businesses||Ideal for vintage, nostalgic, or classic brands|
Things to Keep in Mind when Choosing Between LED and Neon Signs
Type of Business and Brand Image
it’s important to choose the type of sign that best aligns with your brand image to create a lasting impression in your customers. LED signs are ideal for modern businesses that want to showcase their cutting-edge technology and contemporary style. On the other hand, neon signs are perfect for businesses that want to evoke a nostalgic or retro feel, such as bars, diners, or vintage clothing stores.
1. Location and Lighting Conditions
When it comes to choosing between LED signs and neon signs, you need to consider the location and lighting conditions of your business. LED signs are generally better suited for well-lit areas and can be easily seen in direct sunlight. On the other hand, neon signs are more visible in low-light conditions and can be ideal for darker environments.
2.Budget and Long-term Costs
You should weigh the upfront cost of the sign against its long-term costs and consider your budget for maintenance and repairs. LED signs may be more expensive at first, but they could save you money in the long run. Neon signs may be cheaper initially, but their ongoing costs could be higher.
3. Environmental Impact and Sustainability
LED signs are more energy-efficient than neon signs, using up to 80% less energy. On the other hand, neon signs use more energy and have a higher environmental impact. Neon gas is a greenhouse gas and has a global warming potential that is 310 times greater than carbon dioxide.
Comparison of LED and Neon Signs Based on These Factors
|Factors||LED Signs||Neon Signs|
|Type of business and brand image||Perfect for modern and high-tech businesses.||Ideal for classic, vintage, or retro-themed businesses.|
|Offers a sleek and sophisticated look.||Gives off a warm and nostalgic vibe.|
|Location and lighting conditions||Ideal for brightly lit areas or outdoor signage.||Best for dimly lit environments or indoor use.|
|Limited viewing angles might require careful placement.||High visibility even in low-light conditions.|
|Budget and long-term costs||Higher upfront costs but lower energy consumption and maintenance costs in the long run.||Lower upfront cost but higher energy consumption and maintenance costs in the long run.|
|Flexible design options can help maximize marketing efforts.||Limited color options may not fit all branding needs.|
|Environmental Impact and Sustainability||Energy-efficient and eco-friendly option.||Uses potentially hazardous gases and requires specialized disposal.|
Pros and Cons of LED and Neon Signs
- LED Signs:
- You can choose from a variety of colors, brightness, and animation options to create eye-catching displays.
- LED signs are energy-efficient
- They are low-maintenance and have a longer lifespan than neon signs.
- LED signs have a higher upfront cost than neon signs.
- They have limited viewing angles, which means they may not be visible from all directions.
- Some LED signs may generate a lot of heat, which could lead to durability issues.
- Neon Signs:
- The warm glow and classic look of neon signs can be perfect for businesses looking for a vintage or retro feel.
- Neon signs are highly visible in low-light environments and can attract attention even from a distance.
- They are durable and can last for a long time with proper maintenance.
- Neon signs are not energy-efficient and can increase your electricity bills.
- They have limited color options and cannot produce some of the bright colors that LED signs can.
- Neon signs are fragile and can be easily damaged, which means they may require frequent repairs and maintenance
Ultimately, the choice between LED vs Neon signs depends on your brand image, location, and budget. We recommend doing your research and consulting with a sign professional to help you make an informed decision that best suits your business.