Neon signs and channel letters are both popular options for outdoor signage, but they are vastly different in terms of their design, maintenance, and cost. Let’s take a look:

What are Neon Signs?

Neon signs are made from glass tubes filled with neon gas or other gasses such as argon or krypton. These tubes are bent into various shapes and sizes to create the desired image or lettering. The tubes are then lit by a high-voltage electrical current, which causes the gas inside to glow, creating a bright and eye-catching display. Neon signs are often associated with vintage and retro aesthetics and are commonly used in bars, nightclubs and diners.


Channel Letter Signs for StorefrontWhat are Channel Letter Signs?

Channel letter signs are made from metal and are typically illuminated by LED lights. The letters or images are formed by cutting the metal into shape and then attaching it to a backing, which is typically made of aluminum or plastic. The LED lights are then placed inside the letters or images, illuminating them from the inside. Channel letter signs are often used for modern and sleek designs, and are commonly used for business and commercial signs.


Old vs. New

Like a blast from the past, neon signs evoke emotion and feelings of nostalgia. Neon creates a dazzling and radiant display that is sure to catch the eye and calls up memories of diners, bars and night-clubs. 

Ironically, there was a time when channel letter signs were lit with neon lights inside of them. But those days are gone! Today’s modern channel letter signs are illuminated with LED lights, giving them a clean and professional appearance. Typically made of metal, acrylic or aluminum, channel letters create a sleek and polished look and have become the industry standard for business and commercial signs.

When it comes to maintenance, neon signs can be like a delicate flower, they need regular check-ups and if a tube breaks, the entire sign will need to be repaired or replaced. Channel letters, on the other hand, are known to be sturdy and dependable, having a longer lifespan and requiring less maintenance.


Potential Issues with Neon Signs

In terms of cost, neon signs are generally more expensive to produce than channel letters. The cost of the materials, as well as the specialized labor required to bend and shape the glass tubes, can make neon signs more costly. In addition to production costs, neon signs present other potential issues you should be aware of:

  1. Maintenance: Neon signs require regular maintenance to ensure they continue to function properly. The glass tubes need to be checked for leaks, and if a tube breaks, the entire sign will need to be repaired or replaced. This can be costly and time-consuming.
  2. Power consumption: Neon signs consume a significant amount of electricity, which can lead to higher energy bills.
  3. Environmental impact: The production and disposal of neon signs can have a negative impact on the environment. The gasses used to create neon signs are not environmentally friendly, and disposing of broken neon signs can be difficult and costly.
  4. Cost: Neon signs are generally more expensive to produce than other types of signs, such as LED or channel letters. This can make them cost-prohibitive for some businesses.
  5. Safety: Neon signs are fragile and can be broken easily. They are also dangerous if they are left on and have a broken tube.
  6. Heat: Neon signs can get quite hot and this could be a problem if they are close to flammable materials.


Neon signs and channel letters both have their own unique characteristics. In the end, we recommend using channel letter signs for business and commercial purposes. Channel letters offer flexibility, ease of maintenance and a plethora of creative design options. Let us know how we can help you create the ideal sign package for your business. Contact us today!

Helping East Bay businesses get noticed with custom business signs

Contact us today for a free design consultation

Helping East Bay businesses get noticed with custom business signs

Contact us today for a free design consultation

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