LED vs Neon: Open Signs

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Neon has been one of the most popular and iconic sources of light for open signs since it was first used for that purpose, but LED signs have many more benefits than their neon counterparts.  LED lights have been around for a while, but have only been more recently used for store signage. While both lights have their own unique qualities and strengths, the advantages that LEDs have outweigh the novelty of neon.

LED vs Neon: A Comparison Study

The Southern California Edison company did a study comparing LED and neon open signs. They found that using LEDs offers more benefits than neon, in terms of energy savings, costs, maintenance, and more.

Oval LED signs in five different color combinationsSimilarities

The study discovered that both lighting sources have the same potential to attract attention. With similar brightness levels and eye-catching displays, they can both attract attention to a business. LED and neon signs are also available in similar styles and sizes if you’re looking for an open sign. So, if you’re looking to replace a neon open sign, you can find a similar one that uses LEDs.

Initial Cost

LED signs are cheaper to buy compared to neon signs, and they can cost $30 less than neon signs on average. LEDs are newer to the market, so the average price has fluctuated, but has been decreasing overall. LED signs usually cost less than neon signs if they’re similarly sized. 

Replacement Costs

old fashioned blue and red neon sign
Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

LED signs last a lot longer than neon signs, which means that they need to be replaced less often. The average life of a LED sign is 16 years, while most neon signs would have to be replaced four times in that same time period. The average cost of one LED sign is $192, while the average cost of a neon sign is $222. If you replaced the neon open sign four times, that would cost $888, compared to the one time cost of $192 for the LED sign. You will save time and money because you don’t have to buy the replacements required for a neon sign. 

LED Signs Energy Use

In terms of energy use, LED lights are more efficient than neon. They use less energy, which results in lower operating costs overall. LEDs can save your business 133 kilowatts a year, if you use a typical open sign for 12 hours a day for each day of the year.


LED open signs have the ability to be animated, and while neon signs do too, the features are not as extensive as LEDs. In neon signs, only whole tube sections can be animated, which is limited compared to LEDs, where individual bulbs can be turned on and off. Most LED signs have animation features that come at little or no extra cost. The animation features allow the individual LED bulbs to blink sequentially, which creates the illusion of motion.


Compared to neon signs, LED signs are harder to break. LED signs are made of plastic. Neon signs are primarily made out of glass, so neon signs are more likely to break. 


While neon signs offer a nostalgic view of the past, LEDs offer a greener view of the future. LED signs are more durable, long-lasting, versatile, energy-efficient, and cost-effective than neon signs. As more businesses move towards energy efficient LEDs, the potential to attract customers attention remains, with the possibilities for LEDs in business signage being more “open” than ever.