If you’re hoping to find a new piece of art or a quirky sign for your wall at home or at work, you’ve no doubt discovered there is a lot of choice out there when it comes to design and style! When it comes to a brightly coloured sign, there are typically two choices but they are very different, so it’s important that you know what you’re buying. These choices are neon signs or LED signs. 

These two types of signs can both give off an impressive appearance when installed, but they can differ in their manufacturing and how they work. There are an increasing number of companies who are advertising neon signs when they are actually LED, which can be misleading. Here we take a look at the difference between the two.

Are neon signs and LED signs the same?

While both neon signs and LED signs are designed in quirky styles and give off light, they work very differently. Firstly, neon signs are lighted by gas-discharge tubes that contain neon or argon gas, which helps to make them glow when they are switched on. LED signs are powered by light emitting diodes that are strung together to create a light source.

This can make a difference to the brightness and appearance of the sign. Typically an LED sign will appear quite harsh and cold, while a neon sign often provides a warm glow that can be very vibrant. Usually you will find the light tubes give off a 360 degree light source too.

Are they made in the same way?

Making a neon sign and making an LED sign are incredibly different. A neon sign is typically made by hand, using a flame to bend glass tubes into the desired design. They are prepared and pumped with gas to achieve the right colour, before being assembled with all the various components. All of this is usually done by a skilled craftsmen in a workshop.

LED signs are typically created by housing the diodes in a silicone or PVC strip, which is then glued on to the backing. While some of it is done by hand, it takes much less skill to create the finished sign.

 A Guide to Neon Signs vs LED Signs

Which one is more expensive?

You will usually find that neon signs cost more than LED signs, but it’s important to remember that you are paying for quality and skill. Neon signs can take hours or even days to make, so keep this in mind! 

If you find a neon sign listed online that looks particularly cheap, double check its description as you will probably find that it is actually LED.

Despite this, neon signs are not expensive to run once they are installed, and won’t cost any more than turning on your normal household lights.

Are neon signs dangerous?

You would be forgiven for seeing the word ‘gas’ and worrying that neon signs are dangerous. In fact, neon signs only use neon or argon gas, both of which are noble gases and are found in the air we breathe. The idea that neon signs are actually toxic is a complete myth, so be careful what you read!

A quality neon sign will be created with in-built safety features when it comes to the electrical components, so you can rest assured your sign is safe. For instance, if a neon tube breaks, the power will be automatically cut off.

Which type of sign lasts longer?

It’s difficult to say whether neon signs or LED signs last longer. This is because LED technology simply hasn’t been around long enough yet to tell. However, neon signs have been around since the early 1900s and some of them have been known to last for decades.

So, if you see a company advertising that LED lasts longer than neon, be wary of their sources!