What is a Neon sign? All Your Questions Answered

Neon sign examples in town
Neon sign examples in town
Resource: https://www.thrillist.com

The neon sign is an iconic symbol of bright, eye-catching illumination. Found in cities, homes, and various outdoor spaces around the world, neon signs have become a staple of modern culture. But what is a neon sign exactly and what is it made of? Here’s all you need to know about this captivating form of lighted decor and advertisement.

What is a Neon sign?

The neon sign is a type of illuminated sign. It basically consists of specially-made tubes that are formed into letters, shapes, logos, or symbols and then filled with a noble gas or gases before being lit up by an electrical current.

The brilliant colors and eye-catching designs of neon signs have made them popular in cities where they can be seen far away on buildings or along the street. Neon signage products are also used in homes as fun, decorative pieces.

Do Neon Signs Have Neon in Them?

Not necessarily. Despite its name, a “neon” sign does not have to contain neon gas inside the tubes. Many modern signs use different gases, such as argon or helium, instead.

 There’s also a growing trend toward using LED neon signs that don’t need to be filled with a gas mixture. LEDs are less costly and use less power. This makes them cheaper and more energy efficient than traditional neon signs while providing the same vibrant colors. 

Why is Neon Used in Neon signs?

Several reasons explain why neon is used in neon sign. First, neon is a noble gas that has the property of fluorescence, meaning it can be made to glow in different colors by applying an electrical current.

Second, it is a non-toxic and non-flammable gas, making it safe to use in enclosed spaces. Neon is also one of the most cost effective lighting options out there. By combining several different colors of neon gas in neon signs, a wide range of vivid and attention-grabbing displays can be created.

How neon signs work, gas filled types
How neon signs work, gas filled types
Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHdcM2PftUQ

How Neon Signs work

 How do neon signs work? Neon signs work through what’s scientifically called glow-discharge, created when electrons collide with atoms in the gas or gases inside the tubes. The collision produces light that can be seen through the glass tubing. 

However, as you can remember, we mentioned earlier that not all neon signs contain neon gas. Therefore, we need to consider both gas-filled glass types and LED-based signs when explaining how neon signs work.

Glass Neon Sign

Glass neon sign is used to mean the original glowing neon signs that were made using glass tubes filled with a noble gas such as Neon, Argon, or Xenon. Here is how works:

  • A transformer is used to convert the electrical current from the power line into a high voltage, low amperage current. The neon sign transformer is often placed behind the sign.
  • That current passes through an electrode at one end of the tube, which causes electrons in the gas mixture to collide with atoms and create light.
  • Different colors can be created by using different types of gas mixtures and changing the voltage on the transformer.
  • Different neon sign colors may also be produced by coating the inside of the glass tubes with colored phosphors. For example, white light can be created by coating the inside of a blue tube with yellow phosphors.

LED Neon Sign

When it comes to the LED neon sign, the process is slightly different. That’s because LED lights are already self-contained, so there’s no need for a gas mixture or transformer. Instead, a strip of LEDs is used to create the desired design. Here’s how it works:

  • An array of LEDs are connected in series and powered from a low voltage DC supply.
  • The LEDs are designed to produce a particular color and brightness, depending on their make-up.
  • Different colors can be produced by adding colored filters over the top of the LED strip.
  • The low voltage requirement LED sign boards means it can be a battery-operated device.
Using a neon sign outdoors
Using a neon sign outdoors
Resource: https://www.sactownmag.com

What are Neon Signs Used For?

Neon signs are used for various applications, including business advertising, decorative lighting, home decor, and more. While they were initially popular in signs and displays on buildings’ sides or storefront windows, they can now be found in many places.

For example, it’s not uncommon to find neon signs being used as a fun accent piece in restaurants, bars, and homes. Besides advertising, neon signs are also popular as decorative elements for events such as weddings, birthdays, or anniversaries.

Neon sign art is gaining popularity as a unique way to decorate walls and spaces. Neon sign décor can take any form, from simple geometric shapes to intricate designs with words or symbols. Broadly, neon signs can be classified as indoor and outdoor applications.

Indoor Neon Signs

Indoor neon signs include business signs, home decor, and decorative purposes. The signs draw attention to products or services in restaurants, retail stores, or other businesses. In homes, they make personal decorations, such as wall art or lighting accents. The beauty of indoor neon signs is that you can use them anyroom, from office spaces to living rooms and kitchens.

Outdoor Neon Signs

Outdoor neon signs are the most common type of neon signs. They are typically used for advertising businesses or promoting events and can be seen from a distance. Outdoor neon signs are often quite large and brightly colored, which makes them difficult to miss! They can also be creative displays and works of art that suit any location.

Neon sign board
Neon sign board
Resource: https://monteclarkgallery.com

Neon Sign Examples

Neon signs come in all shapes and sizes, so there are endless possibilities for how you can use them. Here are a few common neon sign examples to give you an idea of the how these products are being used today:

Neon Sign Board

A neon sign board is a type of sign that’s often used for business advertising. It provides a bright and eye-catching display that’s difficult to miss. Neon sign boards can also be used for decorative purposes and in different art forms, such as in home theaters or game rooms.

Neon Sign Decor

Neon sign decor includes everything that you can use to make a space look more interesting and inviting, from wall art to tabletop pieces. Neon sign decor is a great way to bring personality and color into any room, and can be anything from neon clocks to illuminated letters.

Neon Sign Logo

In addition to the traditional neon signs, businesses may also opt for a custom-made neon sign logo. These signs offer a great way to make a statement and stand out from other businesses in your industry. You can use it on the storefront as well as inside the business to draw attention to your brand.

Neon Sign Background

A neon sign background or backdrop can make for a unique and eye-catching look. These can be used in photo booths or wedding receptions to create an interesting atmosphere. Neon signs are also popular for stage performances and dance clubs, as they provide an exciting visual element that will draw attention from the audience.


Neon signs are an affordable and fun way to make a statement in your home or business. Their vibrant colors and eye-catching designs, they suit virtually every space, from decorating a room to creating custom logos for businesses. In a nutshell, there’s almost no limit to the things you can do with neon signs, ​ whether you’re looking for a sign to use in outdoor advertising or a sign for indoor decor.

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