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Neon vs LED Neon: What’s the Difference?

May 24, 2019 3 min read

Neon signs have been a popular way of decorating people’s homes and places of work for decades. First introduced in the early 1900s, they have now become a retro trend that adds an eye-catching piece of artwork to any wall.

In recent years, other lighting products have gone into production that appear similar to neon, when in fact they are much different. This is important to know if you’re shopping for a neon sign.

Many of these similar signs try to emulate neon, which can be misleading as a customer trying to find a genuine, traditional neon sign. Indeed, there are a number of companies that advertise their product as neon, when in fact it is LED, although this is not made clear on their websites.

Here we offer you some tips and guidance on the difference between the different lighting signs that are available to buy.

Traditional neon signs

Traditional neon signs are called so because they use neon, or argon, gas to create the bright colour. Genuine neon signs give off an inimitable glow, created by pumping glass constructions with the right gas depending on the final colour of the sign.

All neon signs are handmade every step of the way, from shaping the glass to assembling the finished product. Bending the glass to shape is a skill/craft that takes a number of years to master. A neon tube is circular by nature and therefore emits a 360 degree light. There are around 40 different colours to choose from.

At Neon Creations we offer a vast range of neon products using the traditional method, including custom made signs. Find out more about the process of creating a neon sign.

Alternatives to neon signs

Recently, there have been other signs made available that market themselves under names such as LED neon (this term in itself is contradictory) and faux neon. Signs of this type may appear similar to neon, but they differ greatly in their appearance and in the materials used to create them.

If you were looking for a neon sign, and you realised you had actually bought LED, it’s safe to say you might be a little annoyed. So, we want to help you understand the difference.

Faux neon signs

Faux neon signs, such as Neon Plus, are an LED alternative to traditional neon. Neon Plus is a high quality alternative option, for occasions when using traditional neon isn’t a feasible option. This material creates a partial neon effect, using plastic/acrylic and LED’s, which are lots of tiny individual bulbs. The plastic is cut to shape by machinery and then assembled by hand. The illumination is at the front, half of the sides, and sometimes the back.

Offering a bright and illuminated look, Neon Plus offers a choice of 8 static colours, an RGB option, and various styles to create the desired finished product.

It’s important to remember that faux neon signs are not made using neon or argon gas, as traditional neon signs are. Be wary of buying products labelled ‘LED neon sign’; it will be created with LED lighting solutions, not neon.

There is nothing wrong with choosing a faux or alternative neon design. In some cases, it can work better for your chosen design or environment. We just want to make sure that you understand what you are buying.

If you would like some help in deciding which is the best product for your needs, get in touch with us today!