Complete Guide to LED Neon Signs | Brite Lite Blog

Complete Guide to LED Neon Signs

No matter which way you look at it, custom LED neon signs are superior to traditional glass neon: they’re more durable, they’re longer lasting, they’re cheaper to create and to maintain, and they’re better for the environment.

So, you have questions

You’ve seen some of our custom LED signs and you like the look of them, but you still have questions like “how durable are they?”, “How long will they last?” and “Are they good for the environment?” This article will answer all your questions in this complete guide to LED neon signs.

For starters, LED neon signs are a modern alternative to traditional neon signs. You may ask why we need an alternative to traditional neon--doesn’t regular neon work just fine? We’ll explain more below, but the answer is that LED neon is safer, cheaper, more efficient, brighter, longer lasting, and more affordable.

Not all neon is created equal.

What is the Difference Between Traditional Neon and LED Neon Signs?

A traditional neon light is called a neon light because it’s a glass tube filled with neon, one of the Noble Gases on the Periodic Table of Elements. When electricity is put in the tube, the neon gas lights up. Neon is found in trace elements in the crust of the earth and has to be commercially produced from liquid air using a system called fractional distillation. As you can imagine, this can get expensive.

LED neon signs (light emitting diode) are solid-state semiconductors which glow when voltage is applied. They are relatively inexpensive to manufacture, easy to acquire, and quite environmentally friendly.

What Makes LED Neon Signs Better than Traditional Neon Signs?

LED Neon Signs Are Safer

Neon is an inert gas found in the atmosphere, but it can still harm or kill you. Neon can be an asphyxiant, making it difficult or impossible to get oxygen. If you breathe in too much neon you could easily pass out or even die.

Also, traditional neon signs are made out of fragile glass, and they can break easily--and when they break, they break into hundreds of pieces. LED neon, on the other hand, contains no glass, and the tubing is durable. This not only makes them safer to have in your home or at your event, but it also means that they can survive bumps, drops, and falls. Once a traditional neon sign cracks, the whole thing is garbage.

LED Neon Signs Are Longer Lasting

Traditional glass neon has been an industry standard primarily because it has such a long lifespan--but that was before LEDs came along. Traditional glass neon has a life expectancy of about 10,000 hours of light. This works out, approximately, to 1.5 years if run continuously, or 3.5 years if you run them during nighttime hours.

On the other hand, LEDs have an extremely long life span--30,000 hours or more of light. That works out to 4.5 years run continuously, and 10.5 years if run only at night.

LED Neon Signs Require Less Energy

Traditional glass neon requires 3.5 to 4 watts per foot, and if you run a traditional neon sign for twelve hours a day, it averages out to about 15.33 to 17.53 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year which, at average rates, costs about $210 to run a typical neon sign for a year.

LED neon signs, on the other hand, use one tenth the energy--10%--the energy of a traditional neon sign, which means that you’re knocking that electric bill down from $210 dollars per year to $21. It’s much better for your wallet.

LED Neon Signs Are Lightweight

Considering that a traditional glass neon sign is so fragile, and dangerous when broken, you’d want it to be easily transportable, right? Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s glass and metal, and glass and metal get heavy--and are therefore more prone to falling (and breaking).

LED neon signs are much lighter, easier to move, easier to transport, easier to ship. And, because they’re so much lighter--and so much more durable--you won’t be needing to replace one any time soon.

LED Neon Signs Are Easier and Cheaper To Make

LED lights are far easier to create, because the LEDs themselves are so durable and easily manipulated. LED lights can be moved into any design. But traditional glass neon is a much harder creation process. It requires bending hot glass tubing. Accordingly, the cost of entry into traditional glass neon is very high.

LED Neon Signs Are Better for the Environment

Glass neon lights, much like fluorescent light bulbs, have an issue of mercury contamination if broken and must be disposed of in a careful way. The artisans who work creating these traditional glass neon lights must be tested regularly for heavy metal poisoning.

LEDs contain no toxins or poisons, no heavy metals.

And when it comes to power, lighting up a row of LED lights is far more efficient (draws less electricity) than traditional glass neon.

LED Neon Signs Are Dimmable

With a traditional glass neon sign, it has two settings: on or off. Not so with a modern LED neon sign. They can be dimmable, from 10% power all the way up to 100%, and they can be controlled by remote. Note: not all LED neon signs are dimmable and have remotes, but all Brite Lite neon signs do. We’ll discuss the differences between types of LED neon signs more below.

Not All LED Neon Signs Are The Same

We’ve just highlighted all of the many benefits that LED neon signs have compared to traditional neon and it’s pretty clear which one is safer, cheaper, longer lasting, easier to use, and better for the environment. So you’re ready to buy an LED neon sign, right? Wait just a minute, because not all LED neon signs are made the same.


Here are a few important features of LED lights that you need to watch out for:


  • Not all LED neon signs are UL listed. A UL listing means that the product has been tested and meets specific, defined requirements that are a part of UL’s published Standards for Safety. All Brite Lite Neon Signs are UL listed.
  • Some LED neon signs are made cheaply using lower quality bulbs that are less efficient and don’t last as long, but Brite Lite only uses high-quality LED neon.
  • Some LED neon signs are of lesser quality: look to see if your LED neon sign is an “SMD” sign or a “DIP” sign. “SMD” signs are not as bright, are thinner, and don’t last as long as “DIP” signs. “SMD” signs also do not photograph as well as “DIP” signs. Brite Lite signs are all “DIP” signs.
  • Not all LED neon signs are dimmable or have remote controls. All Brite Lite LED neon signs are and do.
  • Some LED neon signs use inferior and flimsy acrylic backing for their signs. A properly-made LED neon sign, such as the ones made by Brite Lite, are at least 5mm thick to ensure durability and quality.
  • All LED neon signs are handcrafted, and they’re only as good as the craftspeople who are making them. At Brite Lite, we pride ourselves on having expertly-trained and competent artisans making each and every sign by hand.
  • Not all LED neon sign companies have a solid history, and you can tell a lot about a company by their reputation. Brite Lite has great reviews from customers and clients and we’re not afraid to show them off. You can read them here.
  • Not all LED neon sign companies have good customer service. To determine which LED neon sign company you should go with, simply pick up the phone and call them--see which company answers their phones. We are a US company based in South Florida and you can call us at (561) 406-6283. We’re eager to hear from you.


Any way you look at it, LED neon lights are a vastly superior technology to old glass neon lights. They’re more environmentally responsible, they’ll last longer, they’re less expensive to create and to maintain, and they’re every bit as attractive.

And further, not all LED neon signs are the same--but you can be assured that Brite Lite LED neon signs are made with high quality materials, that they’re hand-crafted by experts, that they’re certified to be safe, and that we have impeccable customer service.

Are you ready to make a custom LED neon sign?


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