Channel Letters South Bay | Neon Vs. LED

Channel Letters South Bay | Neon Vs. LED

San Jose Signs manufactures and installs illuminated signs and channel letters. Many of our customers ask for neon signs, which is no longer a product that we offer. Our channel letters are illuminated by LED’s, which are small, low-power and very bright modules. Typically we use General Electric LED modules, but we do use equivelent LED’s occassionally.

Years ago, the primary method to illuminate channel letters was ‘neon’. Neon letters were bright but they were very power hungry, and because they run hot, they were also a fire danger. Being n this industry for so many years, I’ve seen melted signs and fire caused by poorly wired neon signs. Not only are neon signs hot and power hungry, they also contain material that is very dangerous to use – mercury and lead.

Open faced neon is still used, primarily for interior hanging signs. These pull less electricity due to the smaller size and are easily turned off and on manually. Also, today there are neon alternatives, using plastics and LED’s that create a very similar ‘exposed’ neon appearance.


LED stands for Light-Emitting-Diode, and is considered the best illumination vs. power requirements. An entire LED illuminated channel letter sign will use about the same amount of electricity as somebody pressing a door bell button. Quite the change from before when Neon signs would cost thousands of dollars per year to have running.

Channel letters and signs that use LED technology will last longer than neon – and does not burn out like neon. Neon can lose color over time, and will eventually become white-washed, where as LED modules remain color-consistent over time and never degrade in luminosity.

Neon vs. LED? I think there really isn’t any debate. LED’s provide better, longer lasting and brighter solutions than neon. San Jose Signs is the Bay Area’s leading provider of LED channel letter signs. Call today for your store signage!