LED Vs. Neon Sign -What are the Differences?

“Exit” LED neon sign
“Exit” LED neon sign
Resource: https://www.ecmag.com

In the world of neon signs, users can either choose pure neon or faux neon (LED) signs. The differences between the LED and neon sign define what makes each type of signage unique. That, in turn, determines which option is ideal for your needs.

In this comparison of LED neon vs. glass neon signs, we’ll explore their differences in terms of design, nostalgia benefits, energy usage, and brightness. We will also be looking at the differences in versatility and other parameters such as expected lifespan, cost, maintenance requirements, and installation ease.

About Neon Signs

Before their differences, here’s something brief about neon signs. Neon light signs were first patented in 1912, by Georges Claude, and their first commercial applications seen a few years later. These signs then quickly gained widespread popularity with their distinctive glow that could be seen from far away. Today, neon signs are available as either traditional glass neon signs or LED neon signs.

LED Light Neon Signs

LED stands for light emitting diode. LED neon signs use solid state components to create the same look as traditional glass neon. While they may appear almost identical, though, there are several advantages that LED signs offer over their traditional counterparts. These faux neon signs have their downsides, too, as we shall be seeing in the next section.

Glass Tube Neon Signs

These are the original neon signs. To make them, a glass tube is heated and then bent at the appropriate places. This creates the required sign shape. The tube is then filled with a noble gas, such as neon or argon, or a small amount of mercury vapor.

When a high voltage is applied to the connecting electrodes located on either end of the tube, it excites the gas inside, which glows in a very characteristic way that’s instantly recognizable as a neon sign light.

Neon gas sign at the entrance to a museum
Neon gas sign at the entrance to a museum
Resource: https://www.researchgate.net

LED Vs. Neon Sign

Both the glass and LED based neon signs have their own unique benefits and drawbacks. This section will compare the LED vs. neon sign in terms of design, energy usage, brightness, expected lifespan, cost, maintenance requirements, and more.

1. LED vs. Neon Sign: Design

When it comes to design, the LED and glass tube neon signs look almost identical. The biggest difference is that LED faux neon signs are much easier to design, both in terms of shape and size, especially the flex type.

On the other hand, glass tube neon signs are limited mainly by the length of the tubing used for each sign. This means certain shapes may not be achievable, and some of the more intricate or unique shapes may need to be crafted in several pieces.

2. LED vs. Neon Sign: Nostalgia Benefits

There’s no doubt that, when it comes to nostalgia, there is no comparison between the glass neon sign and the LED faux neon sign. Glass tube neon signs are instantly recognizable as classic signage, while LED signs can be seen as more modern alternatives.

For this reason, many people opt for the classic look of traditional neon for their signage needs. In the same vein, though, some users may prefer the convenience of modern LED neon signs. It all depends on the desired aesthetic.

3. LED vs. Neon Sign: Power Consumption

When using a neon sign, power consumption is a major consideration, since these signs must run for long periods each day. LED neon signs are much more efficient than glass tube versions, plus they do no require a transformer to run them.

Typically, LED signs use about 15% to 20% the amount of power that a glass sign would consume. In the long run, using LED sign saves you a few kilowatts every year, in addition to being an eco-friendly signage option.

4. LED vs. Neon Sign: Brightness

Comparing neon sign vs. LED sign for this parameter, we can see that LED signs are generally brighter than glass tube signs. That means, among other things, that you’re more likely to see an LED neon sign in sunlight than a glass sign. This makes it a more useful option for daytime outdoor signs.

That being said, the warm glow that characterizes neon signs can often be more inviting than the harsher light of LED signs, especially at night when a softer light is preferable.

5. LED vs. Neon Sign: Expected Lifespan

When it comes to neon light vs. LED light lifespan, glass tube signs tend to last longer than LED neon signs. Typically, glass signs will serve you for anywhere from 8 to 15 years, while LED signs can be expected to light for around 5-10 years.

With proper maintenance, though, your neon sign lifespan can extend significantly. That includes, among other things, ensuring that the sign is always kept clean as well as regularly checking for any potential issues with the wiring.

6. LED vs. Neon Sign: Cost

Comparing the glass tube and LED neon sign cost differences, a few factors make LED neon the cheaper alternative: First, these signs become a more affordable option when large or complex designs are needed such outdoor advertising pieces.

With their low power consumption, LED neon signs will also cost you less than their counterparts on your energy bill. They’re also much easier to install than a standard glass tube neon sign, which make them a cost-effective option for both home and professional use.

7. LED vs. Neon Sign: Versatility

You get more versatility with LED neon signs than when using glass tube versions. That’s because you get to choose from a wider array sign colors and sizes and shapes. It means ability to create the look you want for your space.

What’s more, LED signs allow for a myriad of control options, including automated dimming or changing of colors to easily create a desired effect. In other words, a custom neon LED signs are more likely to fit a setting or application.

8. LED vs. Neon Sign: Maintenance

When it comes to neon sign maintenance requirements, both types of signs require regular cleaning and occasional repairs or replacement parts to keep them looking good and functioning properly.

However, LED or faux neon signs require far less maintenance overall than glass tube signs, as they don’t require any special parts or tools to repair and replace. Plus, these can resist damage better than the brittle glass and suit many different environments

9. LED vs. Neon Sign: Installation Ease

With LED neon sign installation is as easy as it can be: You only need to attach the sign to a wall or surface, plug it into an outlet, and you’re good to go. Glass tube signs require more time and effort during installation. These signs operate using a small step up transformer, and the installer must do more to ensure proper wiring and connections.


LED and glass tube neon signs can suit both indoor and outdoor signage. However, there are some key differences between, and on many fronts. These differences, based on your needs and preferences, should be considered when deciding between the two types of signs. That will go a long way in helping you choose the right one for your business or any other need.

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