LED Technology and the Modern Neon Sign

Neon signs have been around since the 1940s and they’ve entered our subconscious in all their gaudy, flickering glory. Neon lights can be glamorous, informative and even a little seedy and dangerous, which is why we love them. Neon is, however, at the end of its days as a new tech is moving in to take over.

LED lights have become mainstream because not only do they use just 8% of the energy used by older lights and bulbs, but they offer much more flexibility – literally!

The differences between LED “neons” and realneons

Where does the light come from?

The light in a traditional glass neon light comes from the neon gas fluorescing as electrical current passes through it, whereas LEDs are solid-state semiconductors that emit lots of light for a lot less energy.

How much less energy?

A neon glass light needs anything from 3KV to 18KV passing through it to fluoresce, whereas an LED light needs just 24V to glow. This makes them much more efficient and much safer than neons. While neon is an inert gas, the glass tubes it comes in can present an obvious hazard. Most LED lights are housed in flexible plastic strips, like Neon Flex, so there’s no danger of shattering.

LEDs last three times as long as neon

Neon lights do have a much longer lifespan than most other bulbs and lights, with an average of 10,000 hours. However, LEDs can offer at least three times this with an active life of 30,000 hours or more. This is so much better for the environment and, even better, unlike neons, there’s no mercury or other heavy metals used in their manufacturing process.

LEDs are also easier to design, make and install

LED strips can be cut, bent, connected and mounted with great ease. You can shape them into any figure you want as they’re basically bendy plastic strips. To make neon lights takes a lot of experience and craftsmanship, then you need an expert to install them.

Glass has a habit of shattering

Neon lights are very fragile, as the glass tubes must be thin in order to be bent into shape, so a bang or a fall will destroy them very easily. With a system like Neon Flex, a fall onto the pavement will almost certainly do no permanent damage so they’ll carry on sending out your message for many years to come.