Illuminated signage, part 2: illumination

Not only in terms of colour, design and size there is a lot to choose in illuminated signs. When it comes to light sources for the illumination there are many possibilities as well. Although nowadays LED lighting is used more and more, neon and fluorescent lighting are still options.

LED vs neon and fluorescent lighting
One of the reasons for the increasing use of LEDs is that there are many opportunities and in most cases the results of using LEDs are comparable with neon or fluorescent lighting. The principle of neon lighting is a gas-filled glass tube in which gas discharge light is generated by means of high tension. One of the benefits of neon is the creative design, the used overlying glass tubes are relatively easy to deform, think of well-shaped ornamental letters. With fluorescent lighting ultra-violet radiation is generated by means of a mercury discharge. This radiation is converted into white light by phosphor powder. One of the reasons to choose fluorescent lighting is the often lower investment compared to the use of LEDs. Especially when the singing is going to be used for a relatively short period of time. Traditionally fluorescent lighting is preferred over LED lighting because of the higher RA value, which benefits the colourfastness. LED lighting, however, is getting better in this area and will be at the same level soon.

Benefits of illumination by means of LED lighting
LED is an electronic semiconductor component that emits light when an electric current is transmitted through in one direction. Due to the good lighting quality and the extensive design freedom when it comes to colour and appearance LED offers lots of options for illuminated signs. One of the additional benefits is de long life span of at least 50,000 hours and the use of low voltage of 12 or 24 volts. This means that LED is less harmful to the environment in comparison with neon and fluorescent lighting.

The colour temperature of LED is indicated with Kelvin. Most illuminated signs are conducted between 4000 and 6000 Kelvin (white). But for the illumination of, for example, a sign with a red front plate 1000 Kelvin (red) is often used. In combination with a red opal acrylic this offers the best results.

As mentioned in the first blog of this series the illumination of signage is closely related to the chosen colour and the depth of the sign. This is because the amount of LEDs is not solely determined by the selected light intensity, but by the depth of the sign and the chosen front colour as well. The illumination of warm colours requires fewer LEDs in comparison with the illumination of dark earthy tones like brown, green and blue.

Another advantage of LED over neon and fluorescent is the opportunity to make LED dimmable. Nowadays it is even possible to adjust the light intensity from a distance with an app on your phone. Basically we now always advise illuminated signage based on LED lighting. Only when the situation specifically requires a different source of light we will move to neon or fluorescent.