NEON has been the leading lighting source for the sign industry for multiple decades. The relatively recent advancement in LED technology has brought a challenger to NEON. The question is, which one is better... NEON or LED?
Yes it's true, we only sell Neon supplies. Simply put we love neon. We do appreciate LED's as an additional lighting source to the sign industry. There are many installations were LED's are the best choice. Likewise, there are many installations where NEON is the best choice.
The following is a straight forward comparison of NEON -vs- LED's. Included is an easy-to-follow star rating given to each comparison category as well as an easy to understand explanation.
LED's - It's irrefutable, LED's are more efficient than incandescent light bulbs. As an example, simply look at holiday light strands. The old incandescent holiday light strands usually allowed up to 4 be connected end to end. With LED holiday light strands, some manufacturers allow up to 40 strands to be connected end-to-end, all attributed to it's energy efficiency. But when LED's are tested to neon, LED'S are either less efficient or the same.
NEON - Most everyone has heard of the "Energy Star" program run by the US Government's Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. This program is meant to single out and promote energy efficient products. Products are submitted to the program for testing. The ones that pass strict energy consumption criteria are granted the Energy Star rating. UL Laboratory, the most well known and respected safety testing lab in the United States, has established it's own equivalent rating system named "UL Energy Verified Program". After much testing, UL has awarded NEON it's "Green Energy Verified".
LED's - Each LED is a "directional" light source. This means that the light produced is directed forward, just like a flash light. A sign illuminated with LED'S usually exhibits "hot-spots" or an inconsistent blotchy illumination.
NEON - Neon is a 360 degree light source. It's light will illuminate in all directions. When used in a sign cabinet or channel letter, the cabinet's white interior becomes a reflector, thus increasing the already superior light to an even greater level of brightness. With NEON, there are no breaks in the light source as there are with LED's, so the sign is illuminated evenly and consistent throughout the sign.
LED's - The power supplies that run LED's can operate off of 120vt, 220vt or 277vt current. The LED power supply transforms the secondary power down to 12 volts DC (same as a car battery). Installation for the sign shop is easier because they are installing low-voltage wiring to the LEDs.
NEON - The power supplies that run NEON can operate off of 120vt, 220vt or 277vt current. The power supply transforms the secondary power up to a higher voltage, but a low mA. Installation for the sign shop is more complex because they are installing high-voltage wiring to the NEON. But, keep in mind, this is the job of the sign shop and the Customer has no dealings with the installation.
LED's - Maintenance issues with LED's have been the "thorn-in-the-foot" as they say. Failures of LED's can happen to one module, multiple modules or even the entire run. When individual LED modules fail, each failure requires disassembly of the sign and hand replacing failed modules. If multiple modules fail all over the sign, the sign becomes profoundly unevenly lit and blotchier, thus putting the clients image in a bad light until it is fixed.
Another sensitive issue with maintenance of LED's is the inability to get replacement parts. LED technology is at it's infancy. Advances and new generations of LED's are introduced quite frequently. When a sign has been installed for as little as 1 year, exact replacement LED's can sometimes be hard to track down. New generation LED module's can give off a different color and/or brightness than an earlier generation module. So, when a repair is made to a LED sign with a different generation module, the sign can illuminate "funky".
LED's degrade (get dimmer) over their life... starting out bright and ending dim. Even if one was to purchase extra LED modules and set them aside for maintence issues in the coming years, these modules would themselves not match the in-service modules after a short period.
NEON - With billions of linier feet of NEON installed since 1923, NEON has proven itself with no "unknowns" left to discover. Maintenance is simple. NEON tubes have a indisputable track record of lasting because NEON tubes do not contain a filament to burn out like incandescent bulbs. NEON tubes only have an "inert" gas inside a sealed glass tube. Unless the NEON tube is physically broken, most tubes will last for 30-40 years or more. With this in mind, usually when there is a problem with a NEON sign, the fix is simply replacing the neon transformer.
In the unlikely event that a NEON tube does fail or get's broken, a new tube can be made and will almost always match the older one's still in the sign. This holds true for signs that were built back in the 40's and 50's. Bottom line, with maintaining a NEON sign, replacement parts have never been an issue as the making of NEON has changed very little since it's inception.
NEON maintains it's brightness throughtout it's life.
LED's - Brightness levels degrade (get dimmer) throughout it's life. Real world life expectancy remains unproven because of the infancy of the LED industry. Drive down any main street and see installations of LED's that were just installed in the last couple of years ands see where sections of the LED's have failed, leaving the sign blight blotchy and unevenly lit.
NEON - Brightness levels remain the same throughout NEON life. Life span is normally 30-40 years. With billions of linier feet of NEON installed since 1923, NEON has proven itself with no "unknowns" left to discover. Drive down any main street and see original neon from the 40's and 50's still burning like the day it was installed.