Comparing Glass Neon vs. LED Neon Signs

Since making its 1910 debut at the Salon de l’Automobile in Paris, glass neon signs, lights, and art became incredibly popular, first in Europe and then in the U.S., where, by the 1930s, they were lighting up skyscrapers and small storefronts alike. Experiencing a heyday of sorts in the decades between 1940-1960, glass neon signage began to decline in popularity thanks to the emergence of cheaper forms of illuminated signs that began appearing around the 1970s. Vintage neon signage went through somewhat of a boom-bust cycle to the point that some cities started “de-neonifying,” and by 2010, LED signage in the U..S was at 40% compared to just 18% using glass neon signs.

LED light signs are once again challenging the neon signage market, but this time it’s moving in on the neon look itself thanks to LED Neon Flex. Offering a modern-looking alternative, LED Neon Flex signs are cheaper to manufacture and maintain, require less power, do not get hot or shatter, and contain no mercury or other gases.

Neon and neon look signs have become the perfect way to elevate any blank wall space in a home, enhance a company logo, and draw customers to a business. With such an array of uses, the option you choose comes down to the type of sign your customer is after, as well as where and how it will display.

So, what’s the better choice for neon look signage? Glass or LED? Here’s what you need to know.


The differences

LED neon is much cheaper than traditional glass neon because of the tubing used to hold the light. Made of flame-resistant PVC material, LED neon is more durable than its fragile glass counterpart. LED neon is more energy-efficient, with an input voltage of 24V/120V, compared to glass neon signs, which use 3KV-18KV. The lower voltage equates to better safety, reduced energy consumption, and cost savings.

Traditional glass neon signs are more cumbersome and, due to their fragility, more challenging to install. They can also pose a potential health risk if poorly made or improperly handled. Some colors require minute droplets of mercury, which is safe, as long as the glass tubing remains intact. It is always recommended to have a qualified technician install a glass neon sign, and conduct regular maintenance to monitor for any indications of wear and tear. With all that said, a well-constructed and maintained glass neon sign should be problem-free for many years.

LED neon, on the other hand, requires far less maintenance. Its lightweight material makes it easy to hang, rubber coating protects the PVC flex, and the sign emits little heat, so there is no fire hazard. Installation is a simple as hanging a picture, and plugging in a lamp, no electrician required. LED neon can have a greater lifespan of up to 50,000 hours, while glass neon only lasts an average of 10,000 hours.

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Better for business

If a customer is looking for a neon sign for their business, whether it’s for their shop storefront or a logo for the office, the type of neon sign you require depends on what they want to achieve. If they want something eye-catching with curb appeal, you can accomplish that with both LED and glass neon. LED neon is sleek and brighter than traditional glass neon signs, making it the popular choice amongst buyers.

There are, however, many other factors to consider, such as the amount of space available for your sign. LED neon is a lot thinner, making it perfect for small cafes or brick and mortar storefronts. If you need to cut costs, LED is a lot cheaper to manufacture and more energy-efficient, which means end-users save money on power.

If versatility is what you are after, LED comes in a broader range of colors, and thanks to its flexibility, it can be bent more tightly, giving you the freedom to create any word, sign, or logo you want. If safety is a big concern, LED is the choice for you, as glass neon signs heat up and can break easily, while LED neon poses no such risk.

Art for home

Neon signage has become increasingly popular for the home. Beautiful baby name signs for the nursery would never have been considered previously, not only because of safety concerns but also for lack of color choices and the inability to dim the light.

This is no longer the case, as LED neon options come in an abundance of warm colors to create an ambient glow in any room of the house. LED neon won’t break or overheat, making it an excellent solution for any home décor neon needs.

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Have an event in mind?

If you are looking for event signage, neon signs make for the perfect attention grabber. Whether it be for a wedding, tradeshow, party, or business event, neon signs can make your event more memorable. In this case, LED neon is easier to transport and is the cheaper alternative.

Event signage, when done creatively, can prompt attendees to take action. LED neon signs are a great way to get your audience involved, inspiring them to engage with your brand and take photos with your sign, which they can later share on social media.

With its simplicity, LED neon signage is more portable, and the lower cost also helps when your customers need a sign made for a one-off tradeshow or party.

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Courtney Stables

Custom Neon

Courtney Stables is an online marketing specialist for Custom Neon, a signage provider. Whatever you need, be it a sign for your business or a funky piece of art, Custom Neon can create something for you.

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