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Neon, Fluorescent Outdoor Lights, or LED: Which Is The The Best Light Type For Outdoor Signs?

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Fluorescent Man Lighting Neon Signs Lights Exterior Outdoors

We’ve posted extensively about how lighting can enhance your business’ property and draw in customers. We’ve covered finding the right lighting products for your store, and why parking lots should be well-lit. Our post on why signage matters outlines exactly how lighting can benefit your business. But now that you know that signage matters, how do you select the best options for your business?

Questions many business owners have include:

  • My neon lights might be outdated, but they’re stylish. Why should I upgrade?
  • Fluorescent lights are bright and efficient. Why should I change?
  • Do LEDs really live up to the hype?

In this post, we’ll go over three different types of exterior lighting Calgary business owners use for their signs:

  • Neon
  • Fluorescent
  • LED

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Outdoor Neon Signs

How It Works

A neon light’s main component is a tube which contains gas which is at a lower pressure than the atmosphere. An electric discharge is introduced, and the reaction creates a colourful, glowing light. The composition of the gases and the colour of the glass tubing make a wide range of colours possible.

Pros of Neon Exterior Lighting

This style of sign is often favoured because it:

  • Has warm tone, and is undeniably eye-catching
  • Has been around for a long time, making it easy to find parts or a repair company
  • Is associated with the Art-Deco movement, and certain film genres, and therefore lends a retro touch to businesses it embellishes

Cons of Neon Exterior Lighting

While there are benefits to this type of sign, there are also drawbacks. For example, neon lights:

  • Dim unevenly as a result of the gas leaking out of the tube
  • Are often heavy or unwieldy for their size when compared with modern options
  • Contain small amounts of mercury
  • Cannot always be used outside of a building in certain temperatures, business owners are therefore required to keep some types of neon signs inside their windows

Sign Repair


Outdoor Fluorescent Signs

How It Works

Fluorescent lights are similar to neon lights in that they are composed of a glass tube. These lights ionize mercury vapour, which causes electrons in the glass to emit photons at UV frequencies. A special coating in the tube converts the UV light into visible light.

Pros of Fluorescent Signs

Fluorescent lights are still relatively popular because they are:

  • Relatively inexpensive yet long-lasting
  • Able to distribute light evenly
  • Durable and no-fuss

Cons of Fluorescent Lights

There are a few reasons why many are opting to replace their fluorecent lights with more advanced options:

  • Fluorescent lamps do not do well in cold weather, meaning that Canadian business owners need to be extra careful about what fluorescent exterior lighting they choose
  • Fluorescent lights contain mercury and must be disposed of carefully
  • Fluorescent lights, while initially favoured for their efficiency, are no longer the most efficient lights on the market

LED Retrofit


LED Signs

How It Works

LED lights are based around a solid piece of material called a “semiconductor”, which contains positive and negative components. LEDs produce light when excited electrons careen around within it. The fact that LED lights have a “solid state” configuration makes them very durable.

LED Sign Pros

LED lights have increased significantly in popularity because:

  • They are long-lasting
  • They are durable
  • They do not contain gases and therefore don’t fade throughout their life cycle

LED Light Cons

Some are still reluctant to switch to LED because

  • LED lights can be more expensive “up front” than other options
  • LED lights don’t always fit into fixtures meant for fluorescent or incandescent ones


Which Option is Best For Your Calgary Exterior Signs?

LED lights are safer and more cost effective than fluorescent and neon, but what we truly love about LED lights is their versatility. Due to their unique array of characteristics, and their customizability, it’s easy to replicate almost any of the “pros” of other signage options, such as:

  • The warm, colourful glow of neon
  • Fluorescent lighting’s characteristic, appealing daylight glow and efficiency

When you take into the count that LED is also:

  • Longer lasting
  • Lower maintenance
  • More efficient
  • More durable

...than neon or fluorescent signs, the choice becomes clear. Why hang on to your old sign when a modern, superior alternative can offer the same style at a better price?

Sign Replacement


Contact Us

To schedule an LED retrofit or a sign replacement, get in touch with our team. Our experienced and friendly lighting consultants can help you find the most visually appealing and cost-effective option available. You can reach us by phone at 403-863-8529 or through our online contact form today.

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