Neon vs. LED: The Fight of the Century

This is an argument which is becoming increasingly popular in all industries. The main reason for signage in the first place is to draw someone’s attention to your store and to get your brand out there to increase sales. The issue with neon lights is the high failure rate (approximately every 12-18 months), the expensive cost of repair, and the damage to your brand when your customers are greeted by these signs:




Whereas neon once had an almost complete monopoly on illuminating channel letters, LED’s are now dominating the lighting source market. Their overall features of higher brightness, lower electrical costs, increased energy efficiency, and a longer operation life, typically at least 100,000 hours per unit, make them very attractive as lighting fixtures.

In one recent study to demonstrate the benefits of LED over neon lights, the scope of work covered the cost and installation of 10 character 24 inch channel letters. The total savings was approximately $1,000 for the completed job in favor LED over Neon. These savings are the true beauty and profit of an LED system for channel letters.

The image below showcase further benefits of LED over Neon and this is expected to increase as LED technologies become even more sophisticated and more economical over time.

LED JT02 spec

A great scientific article that looks into the Neon vs. LED argument in great detail is Is Your Neon Lit Sign as Inexpensive as an LED Lit Sign? by Greg Honegger. In this research paper, Mr. Honegger does a complete breakdown of the two systems to get the overall value of each. He looks at production costs (labor and materials), energy savings (financial and environmental benefits), failure rates, reliability, frequency and cost of repair and appearance. The data is extremely interesting and clearly points in the favor of LED lighting, and this trend is expected to continue. The cost of raw materials is dropping, people are becoming more environmentally aware, businesses are having to tighten their purse strings even further, and businesses are able to take advantage of the associated rebates, tax credits, and reduced utility bills. Expect to see Neon signs slowly disappear, to be replaced by their LED rivals.

LED vs. Neon Price Comparison

A huge piece of the decision making process for sign selection is obviously the cost. The following chart shows the energy and financial savings associated with LED lighting over neon. Energy savings of 80.3% (per 100 feet of lighting being run for an average of 12 hours per day), a significant reduction in your firm’s Carbon Footprint, better looking stores, as well as adding $240.46 to your bottom line to keep the CFO happy, are all great reasons that support the switch to LED systems.

Energy Comparison Neon typical to LED-VLPlusWhite 150feet (2)

How much would you save by converting from neon to LED signage? Complete your own price comparison here: Power Savings Estimator. Start multiplying this through your network and the savings will be astronomical. For example, a company with 1000 locations, at this rate will save $240,460 per year, that’s almost $1,000,000 every 4 years! This is also a savings of 2,0004,000 kWh, which is a carbon emissions reduction of 1,382 Metric Tons, the equivalent of 3,290,143 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle!

carbon footprint

Perform your very own carbon footprint calculator right here: Emissions calculator

Chris Salva, Director of Networking and Government Services at Royal Services, recently completed a neon to LED sign retrofit project for a national telecommunications company. Here are some photos showing the before and after images of these recent retrofits in a target test market, where a variety of climatic conditions will be experienced to truly compare the reliability of these technologies. I will let you guess which photo was taken after the retrofit!

sprint aftersprint after retrofit

To find out about how your company could benefit from this technology, please reach out to Jamie Leeper at or 913-717-3188.

Royal Services – Service That Solves – Expect The Exceptional

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