Everything You Need to Know About Neon Light
When you hear the words ‘neon lights’, the first things that come to your mind are storefront signs. These lights produce a luminous red-orange glow when an electric current passes through them. Neon naturally emits a reddish glow but you can make more than 150 colors by mixing neon with other substances. This makes neon lights ideal for the advertising industry because they can easily catch the attention of passersby.
Although neon lights are commonly used for advertising purposes, they are used for other purposes as well such as for car ignition lights and as light emitters for high-intensity lamps and lasers. There is more to neon lights that you do not know yet and that is what we are going to discuss in today’s blog. So if you want to learn more, keep on reading!
Table of Contents
What is Neon Light?
Neon lights were named after an odorless and colorless noble gas rarely found in the earth’s atmosphere – neon. Traditional neon lights contain small amounts of neon gas and have a reddish-orange glow but as we have mentioned earlier, manufacturers use other chemicals and gases to produce other colors.
Neon lights usually come in the form of glass tubes which you can fabricate in different artistic shapes to create pictures of letters. They are popularly used in making multicolored and dramatic signages for advertising, widely known as neon signs.
When Did Neon Lights Come Out?
Although Sir William Ramsay, a Scottish chemist, was the one who discovered the element Neon, it was Georges Claude (a French engineer and inventor) who saw the potential of neon light in the commercial industry.
Georges Claude spent many years perfecting the manufacturing techniques to create a neon tube lighting with extended service life and one that does not flicker. He presented the very first neon tube lighting at the Paris Motor Show in 1910. Since then, neon lights have become popular in various industries.
Advantages of Using Neon Light
Here are the main reasons why many businesses are choosing neon lights over other lighting options:
#1 Long Lifespan
While standard light bulbs have service lives of 6 months to 1 year, neon lights can work for 5 to 10 years on average. Neon lights can even last up to 20 years when maintained properly. Their lifespan is usually affected by factors such as susceptibility to electrical charges and exposure to heat which can cause deterioration to the light’s electrical wiring. They are easier to maintain though compared to other options that need repeated bulb replacements.
Since neon lighting options produce light through the interaction of electricity with the gas, they consume considerably less energy compared to traditional lights. Traditional lights use electricity itself as light sources while neon lights use the energy from electricity to produce light. Also, it is estimated that neon lights can save energy up to 50% compared to other lights. You can even install dimmers on your neon lights to reduce their energy consumption further.
This is among the biggest advantages of neon lights. They give more design freedom. The glass tubes that neon lights use are bendable so they can be shaped into any of your desired designs. Professional neon light manufacturers can mold neon lights into various designs to meet your business’ aesthetic. Moreover, neon lights come in a wide array of vivid colors that can match every business’ needs.
#4 High Visibility
One of the major reasons why a lot of businesses are being attracted to neon lights is because of the ability of neon lights to make a place stand out. Unlike other types of lights, like directional LED lights, neon lights can give a 360-degree illumination. Thus, they can be seen even from a distance.
Of course, how far your neon light will be visible will depend on your light’s size. But in general, a one-inch letter height will be visible up to 30 feet while larger signs can be seen up to 100 feet.
#5 Variety of Operating Ranges
Traditional lights need standard electrical sources. Neon lights, on the other hand, can work on a wide range of voltages. Thus, lighting designers can focus more on creative lighting approaches because of the flexibility of neon lights when it comes to power sources and structure types.
How Are Neon Lights Made?
So how are neon lights made? Neon lights are made by filling a glass tube with neon gas. However, you can make a wide variety of colors by mixing neon with other gases. Below are the common gases used in making neon lights along with the characteristics of each:
As we have mentioned previously, pure neon emits a red glow under normal levels. Neon lights containing higher neon gas levels will have pink or paler red colors.
Krypton produces a white-yellow glow which is why manufacturers use it to produce a wide range of colors. Craftsmen typically use colored glass when adding krypton into lighting tubes to create the desired color.
For manufacturers that make neon lights for colder areas, they add helium along with argon and mercury vapor to the tube to make it heat faster. Helium produces a pink-red glow.
Craftsmen usually mix mercury vapor with argon to create more vibrant blue colors. Sometimes, manufacturers paint the glass tube’s inside with UV-sensitive phosphors to produce different colors. Neon lights with clear, fizzy coloration in blue, white, yellow, or green likely contain argon gas.
#6 Mercury Vapor
The majority of neon lights either use mercury vapor or neon depending on the color that manufacturers want to create (warm or cool base colors). For cool colors, such as purple and green, manufacturers normally use mercury instead of neon.
How Does Neon Light Work?
Below are the key points on how neon lights work:
Neon tubes have electrodes at both ends. They work using either DC current or AC current. But, if they use DC current, you can only see the glow around one of their electrodes. This is why most neon lights are powered using AC current.
- When an electric current passes through the terminals, enough energy is accumulated to remove outer electrons from the atoms of the neon gas.
If insufficient voltage is applied, the neon light will not produce a glow because the kinetic energy produced will not be enough to make the electrons escape from the neon atoms.
The tube’s negative terminal attracts the positively-charged atoms while the positive terminal attracts the electrons that escaped from the atoms. This completes the light circuit.
While the atoms move around in the tube, they hit each other and transfer energy to other atoms. This releases a lot of heat.
The heat released causes the electrons to go back to their initial state by releasing energy (photons/light).
Here is a short video on how neon lights work:
How to Make a Neon Signs From Neon Light?
Now, let us proceed to how craftsmen make neon signs from neon lights.
Neon signs are normally made from the following materials:
Neon gas or a combination of neon with other gasses to produce different light colors
#2 Glass Tubing
Bendable soft lead glass with a diameter that depends on the application (8-11 mm for indoor signs and 12-13 mm for larger signs) and a length between 4 to 5 feet.
Made from pure iron and installed at each of the glass tube’s ends.
Neon lights are connected to a transformer (through a GTO cable) that helps increase the voltage to 15,000 volts
#5 Colors & Coatings
The glass tube can come in different colors and coatings. These coatings appear white when not illuminated and turn to other colors when lit.
Now, let us proceed to how neon lights are manufactured.
#1 Tube Preparation
The tube is cut, cleaned, and coated.
The coated tube is placed inside an oven for drying.
#2 Tube Bending
The glass tube is heated, softened, and formed into the client’s desired shape.
The shaping process is done by hand.
The craftsman attaches a flexible hose to one of the tube’s ends and blows into it to prevent the tube from collapsing.
#3 Tube Bombarding
The craftsman creates a vacuum in the glass tube to remove all air inside.
Once a specific amount of vacuum is made inside the tube, it is filled with dry air until a 0.5 to 1-mm pressure is reached. Longer tubes need lower pressure values.
The glass tube and electrodes are heated.
Once the tube cools down, the craftsman pumps gas into the glass tube under very low pressure.
#4 Aging Process
The craftsman connects a transformer to the tube’s electrodes.
The neon sign is illuminated for a certain amount of time depending on the gas used.
Below is a video showing how neon signs are made:
How Much Does Neon Light Cost?
Pre-made neon lights usually cost around $150 to $400 depending on the light’s size. On the other hand, custom-made neon lights can start at about $200 and can reach up to $1,500 for larger neon lights. Below are the factors that affect the price of custom neon lights:
Combination of lowercase and uppercase letters (all lowercase or all uppercase letters are cheaper)
Font style (complex fonts are more expensive)
The weatherproof capability of the neon light
For the power consumption of neon lights, a neon light with an average size (10-15 inches high and 30-35 inches long) will use approximately the same energy as standard bulbs.
Types of Neon Light
There are 2 common types of neon lights: traditional neon lights and LED neon lights.
#1 Traditional Neon Light
Traditional neon lights come in hand-crafted glass tubes. They create light from the reactions of inert gases that emit fluorescent colors when the gas atoms release energy. While neon tubes are crafted beautifully, they break easily and this can cause damages to the glass tube if not handled properly.
#2 LED Neon Light
LED neon lights use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that are positioned closely together, allowing the emitted light to overlap. Thus, creating a steady light source. LED neon lights are normally lighter and more durable compared to traditional neon lights because LEDs are wrapped with polymer jackets that help protect the diodes from damage. Also, they are dimmable and do not need a lot of power before they can operate.
Below are the common types of LED neon lights:
Difference Between Traditional Neon Light & LED Neon Light
Here are the differences between traditional neon lights and LED neon lights to help you choose which one suits your needs better:
Traditional Neon Light
LED Neon Light
Slightly more expensive than LED neon lights. Additionally, finding a trustworthy traditional neon light supplier will also not be easy because of the decrease in the demand for traditional neon lights.
While the initial prices of traditional neon lights and LED lights do not have much difference, LED lights are slightly cheaper. However, the price will depend on the style and size you want.
When it comes to brightness, traditional neon lights produce warmer and more aesthetically-pleasing glow compared to LED lights.
LED lights have a brighter glow that can still be seen even in great distances.
Traditional neon lights last longer when properly maintained compared to LED lights. they do not need a lot of replacement or repair services under normal conditions.
The LED in LED lights might need to be replaced once damaged.
Since neon lights use glass tubes, they are prone to breakage and need special treatment when disposed of. They also operate in high voltages which can be quite dangerous.
LED lights are made of shock-proof materials and emit little heat so they are safer. Plus, LED lights do not have detrimental materials such as phosphor and mercury which are used in neon lights.
Although neon lights last longer than LED lights, neon lights need more maintenance when installed in colder areas. Neon lights also need a professional to fix maintenance issues which can be costly.
LED lights do not need much maintenance services, unlike neon lights.
Although modern developments have improved the power consumption of neon lights, they still use higher power compared to LED lights.
LED lights are more energy-efficient because they use much less energy compared to neon lights.
How to Choose the Right Type of LED Neon Light?
Choosing the right neon light for your business is not a simple process because there are a lot of factors you need to consider. Here are 10 important factors you should take into account:
The type of lighting you choose for your business will have a great impact on the utilities you are going to pay each month. More importantly, you need to consider the budget you have for your lighting project. Aside from the initial price, consider your option’s cost-effectiveness in the long run.
#2 Power Supply
Neon lights and LED lights are normally plugged into power sockets but some manufacturers offer battery-powered options for smaller lighting projects. Different LED lights also have different voltage requirements so make sure that you have the appropriate devices to power your chosen lighting. Some would require special AC adapters so they can function properly.
When choosing the color for your LED light, make sure to match it with your company’s logo and theme. LED manufacturers can offer you various LED light colors so you need to think carefully about what matches your business best. Also, consider the theme of the area where you are going to install your LED lighting.
Below are the most common LED neon light colors with different shades per color:
LED neon lights can come in round or flat surfaces. For neon signs, round LED lights are more suitable. If you want to add ambient or accent lighting to areas, flat LED lights are more ideal. LED tape or strip lights are perfect for lighting architectural structures.
Manufacturers use different materials to make LED lights. Choose lights that are made from durable and resistant materials that will not fade, chip, or break. Some manufacturers make custom kid-safe LED light tubes that are not made from breakable glass materials and do not overheat so they are safe to touch. There are LED lights that are also made from flex materials that can be easily bent. LED flex lights are more durable and lightweight.
The type of LED light you will buy will also depend on your lighting project’s shape because not all LED lights are flexible enough to accommodate any shape you want. So before you buy an LED light, you need to decide on what shapes you are going to form first. LED flex neon lights are more recommended for applications that require extreme flexibility.
Neon lights produce different brightness intensities. As mentioned earlier, traditional neon lights produce warmer and more attractive glow while LED lights have brighter colors that are visible even from great distances. LED strip lights emit light that is several times brighter compared to other LED lights. You need to consider whether you want an effervescent or solid glow.
Most neon lights are equipped with advanced technologies that allow you to control them. Some come with demo modes, dynamic modes, autosave, brightness adjustment, and speed adjustment functions that can be controlled using a remote. Take note, though, that the more functions you want your LED light to have, the more expensive it will be.
Your neon light’s design will heavily depend on the theme you want. There are appropriate LED lights for architectural purposes, events, ambient lighting, and others. Knowing what application you will be using your lights in will help narrow down your choices. If you are going to make neon texts, consider the font you will be using. Do not choose fonts that are hard to read. It is even better to avoid cursive fonts. Choose large fonts instead.
Lastly, consider the size of the neon light. The dimensions of the most appropriate LED light for your application will depend on the size of your desired lighting project. Different LED light sizes are used in smaller designs and in large scale designs. The size of your neon light will affect the overall appearance of your lighting project so make sure that you choose the right sizes.
Also, you need to ensure that your LED light will fit in the space where you are going to install it. It is best to measure the available space first before buying an LED light.
What is LED Neon Light Used For?
LED neon lights are used to highlight dark areas. A good accent lighting brings life to boring displays and is an effective way of beautifying areas. You can use them in almost every application including the following:
#1 Architectural Lighting
You can use LED neon lights in any architectural application. Whether it is for lighting up staircases or bringing accents to sculptures, LED lights can give life to any architecture.
#2 Artwork Lighting
Artists can use LED lights to bring their works into life. The versatility of LED lights allows you to use them in various media applications. Aside from using power-saving LED lights to illuminate your work, you can use them as parts of your art itself.
#3 Automobile Lighting
The first applications of neon lights were for automobile lighting. LED lights are ideal for retrofitting your trailer, RV, or vehicle because they do not consume a lot of power. Thus, they can significantly extend your automobile’s power source.
#4 Marine Lighting
LED lights are also used in a wide range of marine and boating applications. The majority of marine vessels use 12 Volts DC or 24 Volts DC and high AC voltage. Using LED lights gives a power-efficient and ultra-bright solution for any marine lighting application. You can retrofit your vessel’s existing halogen bulbs to get the many benefits that LED lights can offer.
#5 Special Event Lighting
LED lighting is great for special event planners, designers, caterers, audio and visual specialists, DJs, and others. LEDs make events more exciting by lighting the place up with color-changing LED lights and adding an accent or ambient lighting to areas.
#6 Signage & Exhibit Lighting
You can save a lot of energy and repair expenses by switching from fluorescent signages to LED lighting options. LED lights can last up to 50,000 hours and only require little maintenance. They also offer great flexibility and advanced control systems so you can easily create or design any LED exhibit lighting or signage you desire.
#7 Business Lighting
RGB LED lights are excellent for ambient lighting, task lighting, special racks, window displays, nightspots, clubs, bars, and other aspects of your business that you want to highlight. They produce eye-catching colors that can help you attract new customers.
#8 Home Lighting
Lastly, you can customize LED neon lights to decorate your home. You can use LED strip/tape lights for under cabinet lighting and LED Modules for indoor/outdoor lighting applications. Converting your existing lighting to LEDs will not be easy but you can significantly reduce your energy consumption while still having an awesome lighting design.
As an important part of our homes, gardens also need our careful design. LED neon lights is a great option to decorate your garden. Lighting up some funny gardening quotes with the LED neon lights will make your garden more attractive. When you renovate your small area also pay attention to no dig landscape edging.
How LED Neon Light Can Bright up Your Business
Aside from energy savings, LED neon lights create visual appeal in your products or business. This is a good way of attracting potential customers to increase your overall revenue. Plus, they are wicked cool. If you want to have a visually attractive business area but also want to save on your expenses, you can buy neon lights in wholesale quantities and even request for custom-made lighting.
Wholesale Neon Light
Buying in wholesale quantities can save you a lot of money because you can get neon lights at much cheaper prices compared to buying in small quantities. You can find a lot of neon light manufacturers and suppliers that offer wholesale orders, but make sure that you check the credibility of the manufacturer/supplier first.
Custom Neon Light
Custom neon lights are common in creating stylish interior designs. Neon lights can greatly enhance the appearance of any area, whether it is a store, a bar, a hotel, and others. Neon lights come in various styles and designs. They can be formed into objects, animals, or texts. Thus, adding a unique personality to any area in an instant.
Where to Find Neon Lights?
Have you decided to buy neon lights and are wondering where you can get them? Below are your options:
#1 Buy Neon Light Online
The easiest method would be to buy neon lights from online stores. Buying from online stores is the most convenient option because they can deliver your orders right at your doorstep. All you need is to make an order through the website of your chosen online store. Below are some of the most popular online stores you can check out:
#2 DIY Neon Light
Neon lights are awesome, but they can be costly if you want a customized design. If you cannot afford pre-made neon lights or did not find any neon light that matches your taste, you can create your own neon lights. You just need the following:
An electroluminescent (EL) wire – a thin, flexible wire that comes in various colors and lengths and is similar to a flexible neon tube)
#3 Neon Light Shop
For small businesses that need simple neon lighting options, you can buy from neon light retail shops near you. Although they sell in retail quantities, you can ask them if they accept wholesale orders at discounted prices. Some might even offer customization options for small projects.
#4 Neon Light Manufacturer
Lastly, if you want to buy neon lights in wholesale quantities at affordable prices, we recommend contacting a neon light manufacturer. Manufacturers can offer you various customization options for any application. However, make sure that you partner with a reliable neon light manufacturer that can help you all throughout the process.
Ginde Star is among the top neon light manufacturers in China that creates innovative and environmental-friendly neon lights for different lighting applications. Aside from neon light manufacturing, the company also offers customization services. Our designers can create attractive neon lights to fit your specifications. You are welcome to contact us anytime.
Neon lights are widely used in making decorations and signages. Their clear light, bright colors, and wide-range luminance make them great choices for a wide variety of lighting projects. Plus, they offer more design flexibility to meet the specific requirements of businesses. If you need custom-made neon lights for your business, do not hesitate to contact Ginde Star. We are more than happy to help you.