Southern California Sign Blog

Burbank Sign Company | Should You Retrofit Your Channel Letters?

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 @ 04:12 AM

Here are a few helpful items. Some of LED illumination's potential advantages over neon are:
• LED is less fragile. Neon tubes are much more susceptible to breakage both in transit and during installation.
• LED can mean a lower utility bill for you. LED is a more efficient light source, and the electrical transformer is smaller.
• LED is a more focused light source. An LED module produces a "cone" of light, where neon illumination is emitted from all sides of the neon tube (this can also be a disadvantage for LED, as noted below.)
• Installation of an LED channel letter signs can be easier, as it does not always require conduit on the secondary side.
• LED is a more environmentally friendly product. Neon tubes often contain mercury.
• LED is safer to install, service and maintain. LED is typically powered by 12 volts DC, where neon is powered by 4,000 - 15,000 volts AC. The high voltages required by neon present a significantly higher electrical hazard potential.
However, with all of these differences, neon still has its place. Here is where neon illumination can be better:
• Neon illumination has a certain warm glow that many think LED has yet to match. This is particularly true for reverse and front/back lit channel letter signs. Neon's 360 degree illumination is very easy on the eyes when used with front/back lit letters. LED's focused "light cone" is not as good with these letter types.
• Some custom colors can be better matched with neon. If your client is concerned about a specific color match (such as a logo color), neon may be a better choice.
• Open face channel letter signs still require neon - LED is not yet a viable option.
So, the short answer to "which illumination source is better?" is that it all depends on the project at hand. LED and neon are completely different illumination sources, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

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Topics: Electrical Signs, Channel Letters, Burbank Sign Company