neon LED lights strip lights blue coiled into a circle

Glass Neon Vs. Neon LED Lights: Which Neon Sign Shines Brighter?

The radiant glare of neon signage attached to various establishments will attract your eyes everywhere you go. No matter what color or shape, you’re bound to notice their enticing and atmospheric glow. 

It’s no wonder that business owners and interior designers alike use these signs to improve a room’s ambiance and brighten any space. 

But let’s debate—which one is better, traditional glass neon signs or newer LED neon lights? Find out in the battle between these extra luminous light fixtures you’ll want for your room. 

Traditional Neon Signs

Glass neon signs have been around for over a century, originating way back in 1910 when a French engineer first demonstrated his neon lamp at a motor show. 

As the name suggests, glass neon signs work using three main components: noble gases (in this case, neon), glass tubing, and electrodes. Mercury can also be added to enhance the sign’s luminosity. 

Neon gas is sealed in a glass tube with electrodes on both ends. When switched on, the gas particles interact with the electrodes, “exciting” the atoms and producing the neon glow. 

It’s important to note that the color emitted comes from the gas inside the glass tubing. Most neon signs emit a red-orange color because that is the natural color of neon when activated. Fortunately, neon sign makers have found a way to emit other colors apart from using different noble gases. Instead, they coat the glass tubing with phosphor, which produces different colors and glows when it interacts with radiant energy. 

Why It’s Better

Because of its long and tested history, the traditional neon tube light is a more popular option. You can’t deny its nostalgic vibe that creates a homey atmosphere. In addition, glass neon signs are said to emit warmer lighting compared to LED neon tube lights. Perhaps, it is because traditional neon signs are wide light sources, giving off consistent lighting in all directions.

Glass neon signs are also customizable. However, you must constantly heat the glass tubes to shape them to your desired form. Because of the tedious process involved, many consider neon sign-making as an art form in itself. There are even museums to honor and highlight neon artists and their art.

Where It Lacks

While phosphor coating is there to help, neon signs can lack in the color department. Unlike LED neon signs, you must either painstakingly obtain noble gases or coat your glass tubes before emitting different colors. 

Additionally, because of the nature of its components, traditional neon lights are difficult to make, incredibly fragile, and are considered high-maintenance. 

A damaged glass neon sign poses a great threat to its owner, potentially exposing them to mercury and other harmful gases once the glass tube is broken. Moreover, many have opted not to use neon signs because they may radiate harmful UV rays.  

Poorly maintained neon signs may also produce a hum or buzz, which can be distracting and bothersome to its users. 

LED Neon Lights

Because the materials are difficult to maintain and introduce several health risks when they come in contact with skin, the use of traditional neon signs immensely declined in the 1950s. Today, you will hardly see traditional neon signage being used. The neon signs you see in today’s establishments are likely LED neon lights

Instead of using easily breakable and hazardous components like glass and chemical gases, LED neon signs use readily available and cheaper ingredients. LED neon signs are created with LED strip lights, wires, and PVC or acrylic materials. 

The light source of LED neon signs comes from light-emitting diodes, semiconductors that give off light when an electric current passes through them. An LED strip light contains dozens of LED emitters lined up in a flexible circuit board strip. 

Unlike traditional neon lights, you can easily customize the color of a neon LED light because it uses electrons and photons to determine the sign’s color and tone. 

Why It’s Better

LED neon signs are much safer to create and use because of their highly durable materials and easier production process. 

LED lights also do not need harmful chemicals like mercury to create a bright glow, allowing their owners to use them without fear of being exposed to these gases. 

Because it uses bendable strip lights, LED neon lights can be easily formed and customized. 

LED signs are cost-effective and energy-efficient—it doesn’t take a lot of energy to power an LED sign. Moreover, LED bulbs can light up a space for 100,000 hours. 

Unlike glass neon signs, neon LED lights don’t produce any bothersome buzzing, even when broken. 

Where It Lacks

Despite the safer materials, LED lights can still cause some health risks with long-term exposure. But these aren’t as serious. Long-term use of LED lights can worsen one’s sleeping habits and increase the risk of cataract growth. 

LED lights are also known to have directional illumination, meaning they only give off light in a singular area instead of all directions. As a result, neon LED signs can give off inconsistent lighting. 

So Which One Is Better?

Traditional and LED neon signs have their fair share of benefits and drawbacks. Deciding which light source is better will be entirely up to you and what you need the signs for.

Below is a summary of their features. We’ll let you decide.

Traditional Neon SignLED Neon Sign
ProductionHard to obtain materials, long and tedious processReadily available and durable materials, safer and easier process
CustomizationNeed to heat glass tubing to shape it in desired formMaterials are flexible, easily customizable
ColorLimited color options, need phosphor coatingCan create signs and lights with various colors
Energy EfficiencyHigh power consumption, higher costsLow power consumption, more energy efficient
SafetyPoses risks such as exposure to UV rays, mercury, and other toxic gasesSafer to use, long-term exposure can lead to bad sleeping habits and may affect cataract growth
LifespanCan last up to 2 years, luminosity declines every year followingCan last up to 6 years
NoiseMay produce a buzz or a hum if not maintained properlyDoes not make any noises

Brighten Up Your Space With Neonize Today!

If you do end up choosing neon LED lights for room and wall decoration, Neonize has a wide collection of neon signs and lights for you. 

Our signs are handcrafted using durable and high-quality materials such as LED Flex, PVC, acrylic, and rubber flex tubing. Our signs are also easy-to-install with our variety of mounting options.

Customize your neon sign with us by sending your design! 

Get your neon lights and signs from Neonize today with free shipping!

Related Blogs
The Energy-Saving Question: Do Neon Signs Use a Lot of Electricity?

When you think of neon signs, you can’t help but imagine the lively ambiance they create in vintage diners or how they make city streets come alive with color. They’ve become a symbol of cool and a magnet for attention. But let’s address the elephant in the room—do neon signs use a lot of electricity?  […]

Read More
Why It’s Better to Use Custom Neon Signs for Your Business

Are you searching for innovative ways to distinguish your business from the competition? One of the effective ways to grab a customer’s attention is by using custom neon signs. Business owners can use them in beauty salons, small restaurants, bars, and almost any other commercial space. In this blog post, we’ll examine the advantages of […]

Read More
Affordable Neon Signs and 5 Other Low-Cost Home Decor Ideas That Scream Luxury

Anybody can live in an aesthetically pleasing home if they set their mind to it. However, you're reading this because you discovered that designing a space can get pretty costly. The basics alone (furniture, wall paint, etc.) can make you feel like you're rolling in dough. It's understandable if you're concerned about having less money […]

Read More
1 2 3 76

Get Exclusive Discounts

In less than a Sign up below to be below to be the first to access exclusive offers, promotions and announcements! five minutes, create your neon and bring your vision to life!
Subscribe Form

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping