Sign Lighting: LED vs. Neon - Part 1- Pros & Cons (2024)

The main common theme between LED and Neon is that they are both a source of light for signs (and many other items), but that is about it where their similarities end. They both have their place in the sign world, and in this portion of our multi-part blog we will see the basic Pros and Cons of each.

We will give a brief description of each here and go into more depth of both in future posts.

LED – Stands for Light Emitting Diode, which is basically a semiconductor that produces light. There are for more LED’s in everyday life than you may realize, such as car instrument clusters, watches, calculators, etc.

Pros to LED lighting for Signs:

  • Extermely long bulb life (100,000 + hours)
  • High light output with low voltage input
  • Very low maintenance
  • Extremely durable
  • Unlimited color options
  • Doesn’t use mercury or any other toxic chemicals to produce light
  • Low power consumption

Cons to LED lighting for Signs:

  • Up front costs invested in future proofing
  • Some are somewhat directional (focused beam)
  • As with anything, there are cheaper/less reliable brands
  • Some higher wattage LED’s run hot and need a heatsink

Neon is a low pressure gas inside a glass tube with and electrode at each end of that tube. When high voltage is connected to the electrodes, it charges the gas to a point that it gives off light that can be seen.

Pros to Neon lighting for signs:

  • Wide operating ranges
  • Sometimes they don’t need a special power supply
  • Can run on AC or DC
  • Can be made into custom shapes
  • “Old school” look and feel cannot be duplicated

Cons to Neon lighting for signs:

  • They output very little light for amount of power required
  • Limited colors available based on gas and glass color configurations
  • The glass tubes can be fragile
  • Generally only one color can be used at a time
  • Very high maintenance costs
  • One small crack and the entire piece is broken

These are just a few things to give you an idea of the good and the bad of each. In the sign world there is a time and place for LED and Neon lighting and at Signarama Detroit our expert staff can help you choose which is right for you. If you have questions about neon signs or are wondering why we choose LED’s for channel letters give us a call!

Sign Lighting: LED vs. Neon - Part 1- Pros & Cons (2024)
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