Undoubtedly, the best way to attract the attention of customers to your business is by bright lights and an eye-catching sign outside your store. By nature, humans are attracted to visuals, hence an effective signage is guaranteed to garner their business.
Neon signs were initially a favorite amongst business owners for advertising but the LED market has now taken over the lead. In this blog, we aim to go into a detailed discussion of LEDs vs Neon signs, educating you on the key differences between both, so you know which one would be most suitable for your business.
What are LED lights?
Light Emitting Diode is what LED stands for and this is the technology used to create LED lights and signs. LEDs are closely strung together and when each bulb emits a light, it overlaps with the other and creates a steady source of light. LED lights are wrapped in a polymer jacket, which protects them from damage. This means LED signs are usually more protected than neon lights. Furthermore, in terms of replacement, LEDs have to be manually fixed to the base of the board, but with neon signs, only the glass tube has to be replaced. The colors emitted in an LED sign are solid, as opposed to the varied hues that glow on neon signs.
What are neon lights?
Traditional neon lighting comes in a hand-crafted glass tube, with light created as a result of inert gas releasing energy, which in turn emits a fluorescent color. While neon signs are beautifully crafted, they are very fragile and prone to damage when incorrectly handled. If a tube of a neon sign is damaged, the entire sign should have open circuit protection. This means that the flow of gas will stop automatically in order to prevent any further accidents. Because of this protective feature, and the attractive display of neon signs, many businesses still prefer this to advertise their store.
Key components of an LED Display system
- LED unit board: comprises the LED module, driver chip and the printed circuit board. This entire board is made up of tiny LED dots encapsulated by resin or plastic field-array.
- Wires: power cables, data cables and transmission lines.
- Power source: depends on the characteristics of the LED display, but keep in mind – a high quality power source will prevent breakdowns.
- Choose power source with good appearance – an excellent uniformity of components array.
- Efficiency of the power source must be over 80%.
- Inquire about the PF value of the power source – anything less than 0.6 will cause huge power losses.
- Power source has to be extremely stable, otherwise the stability and working life of your sign is at risk. A low ripple and small increase in temperature suggests good stability.
- Control card: a bar-screen control card is the most convenient for controlling your LED display.
Key components of a neon sign
- Tubes: a soft lead glass which is heated, bent and twisted by hand. The cooling and fusing process happens together and is later filled with various gases for different colors.
- Electrodes: are made from pure iron and are welded to each end of the tube, and with high-voltage cables, these are wired to the transformer.
- Transformer: used to transfer the necessary voltage from the mains to the electrodes, which in turn makes the gas inside the tubes glow.
- Backing panel: supports the traditional glass tubes with a steel, wood, or aluminum framework.
The cost difference between neon and LED signs depends on the size of the display being created. Larger outdoor digital signage is about 10% cheaper than neon signs. Therefore, when considering large displays, LED signs may be more cost effective. Also, in terms of maintenance, LED signs do not require experts for installation, maintenance and replacement, thereby producing more cost savings in comparison to neon signs.
LED lighting has less secondary power consumption than neon lights. If you look at some figures: large neon displays need input voltage of about 3000-18000V, creating high energy costs and greater safety concerns. The neon gases used to produce neon tubing are also harmful to the environment.
LEDs instead use a very low power voltage of just about 24-120V, meaning lower electricity costs and more safety.
Safety and Installation
With LED signs, there is no special installation team needed; simply hang it on your wall just like any other piece of art. Neon signage requires specialist installation due to its weight, fragility and power requirements.
In terms of safety, LED lights are encased with flexible material and attached to an unbreakable backboard. They don’t heat up either like glass neon signs, so there’s no risk of breakage.
Curb Appeal and Aesthetics
Neon and LED signs both have its own way of capturing attention. Some believe that the vintage style neon signs are more attractive, given its traditional appeal, and warm and welcoming light emission. Nevertheless, the bright and modern look of LED displays are also very popular and fast overtaking its neon competitors.
Neon signs are used for outdoor decoration as well as interior signs. For this reason, bars and restaurants are where neon signs are seen as perfect for use. Many people use neon signs in ceilings, flooring and walls to enhance the interior of their homes and create an unusual approach to a homely setting. Photographers also use neon signs in their studios to create unique and interesting shots of their models/objects.
LED signage is used mostly for official purpose such as communication within a business organization or advertising products and services on a busy street. Factories, warehouses, banks, hotels, hospitals, restaurants, clothing stores, auto dealership and shopping malls are just a few places where LED signage is a popular choice used in indoor and outdoor settings.
It is finally down to each business owner as to which is the best sign for your business. Consider the pros and cons of neon and LED signs and make an informed decision, making sure you purchase a sign that your customers will notice and in return bring business to the table.