Are glass neon signs worth it?

Published March 28, 2023

The art of illumination: Exploring the world of glass neon signs

Glass neon signs, an enigmatic and timeless art form, hold a revered position in the realm of lighting and design. Since their inception in the early 1900s, these illuminated beacons have been used to fashion captivating displays that enrapture the senses in any environment.

To fully appreciate the art of illumination, one must take an in-depth plunge into the captivating world of glass neon signs, unraveling the science behind their enchanting glow, delving into their historical roots, and exploring the intricacies of their manufacturing process.

Glass Neon signs
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This comprehensive guide provides a wealth of information, covering everything from the evolution of neon signs to their production, pricing, and beyond. By the time you finish reading this guide, you will possess a profound appreciation of the allure of glass neon signs, and a better understanding of why they are the perfect choice for your next lighting project.

This is chapter 1 in the neon sign library

The history and art of glass neon signs

The illustrious history of glass neon signs is one that stretches back to the early 20th century, a time of great technological innovation and artistic expression. The year was 1910, and a brilliant French physicist by the name of Georges Claude had just discovered the miraculous ability of neon gas to produce stunningly vivid and striking light for the purposes of commercial advertisement.

This revolutionary breakthrough immediately captured the attention of the most discerning commercial advertisers and visionary artists alike, who quickly recognized the enormous potential of neon signs to captivate and enthrall audiences with their dynamic visual impact.

Glass Neon signs
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As the 1920s dawned, the radiance of neon signs had become an ubiquitous feature of cityscapes across the globe. They were utilized for a wide range of functions, from advertising to architectural embellishment, and their unique properties rendered them a top choice for the most daring and innovative artists seeking to infuse their work with a luminous and otherworldly aura.

Moreover, the incredible versatility of neon signs played an instrumental role in the development of new and exciting artistic movements, including Art Deco and Streamline Moderne. The limitless creative potential of neon light empowered artists to unleash their imaginations, unleashing a wave of brilliant, bold designs that were utterly unparalleled by traditional forms of illumination.

In the present day, glass neon signs remain an enduring symbol of timeless aesthetic allure and distinctive flair. They continue to be utilized for commercial advertising and have found new applications in the worlds of art and interior design. By delving into the captivating history and artistic significance of glass neon signs, we can gain a deeper appreciation for their inimitable charm and enduring appeal.

What are glass neon signs? How do they work?

Glass neon signs are a type of illuminated signage made using glass tubes filled with neon gas. When an electric current is passed through the gas, it emits a vibrant, glowing light. Glass neon signs have a unique and classic look that is often associated with retro diners, bars, and other establishments.

The scientific principles behind the glow of neon signs are based on the behavior of electrons and ions in an electric field. When an electrical current is applied to the gas in the tube, it ionizes the gas atoms, causing the electrons in the gas to jump to higher energy levels. When these electrons return to their original energy level, they emit energy in the form of light, creating the bright glow of the neon sign.

How to make a glass neon sign?

Creating a glass neon sign is a delicate process that requires precision and attention to detail. While it may seem daunting, with the right tools and materials, it is possible to make a high-quality neon sign.

To start, you will need glass tubing, a gas that can be ionized (such as neon, argon, or helium), electrodes to carry the electrical current, and a transformer to supply the voltage. Once you have gathered all the necessary materials, you can begin shaping the glass tubing using a propane or butane torch.

After the tubing has been shaped to your desired design, the electrodes are attached to either end of the tubing. Then, the tubing is filled with the chosen gas, and the electrodes are connected to the transformer. When the electrical current is applied, the gas inside the tubing is ionized, and the neon sign emits its signature glow.

While the process may sound simple enough, there are many tips and best practices to keep in mind when creating a glass neon sign. For example, it’s essential to use the right type of glass tubing for your project. Borosilicate glass, for instance, is more durable and heat-resistant than regular soda-lime glass.

Another critical factor is the purity of the gas used to fill the tubing. Impurities in the gas can affect the brightness and color of the neon sign. It’s also important to ensure that the electrodes are securely attached and that the tubing is free from any imperfections or impurities.

To create a high-quality neon sign, it’s crucial to work in a clean and organized environment, with the right tools and equipment. With patience and attention to detail, you can create a stunning and unique glass neon sign that will be the perfect addition to any space.

Learn more: Looking for unique decor? Try these 30+ NEON SIGN IDEAS!

What kind of glass is used for neon signs?

The perplexing world of neon sign glass is a dizzying array of options, with two main types vying for dominance: borosilicate glass and soda-lime glass. The former, a robust and resistant type of glass, is an ideal candidate for the rigorous demands of outdoor environments.

This stalwart of the neon sign world boasts a high tolerance for temperature fluctuations and is virtually impervious to thermal shock, making it a popular choice for signs that will be subjected to frequent changes in climate.

Blowing glass neon signs
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On the other hand, soda-lime glass, the ubiquitous and more economical cousin of borosilicate glass, is often used for indoor signs or those that will not be exposed to the harsh elements of the great outdoors.

While soda-lime glass may not possess the same level of durability or resistance to temperature changes as borosilicate glass, its ease of use and low cost make it a perennial favorite of neon sign makers.

When making the crucial decision of which type of glass to use for a neon sign, several factors must be taken into account. The intended use of the sign and the environment in which it will be placed are critical considerations.

Generally speaking, borosilicate glass reigns supreme for outdoor signs or those that will face significant temperature changes, while soda-lime glass is the go-to choice for indoor signs or those that will not be subjected to the harsh realities of the great outdoors. The world of neon sign glass is complex and bewildering, but with a little bit of knowledge and guidance, anyone can navigate this fascinating realm with confidence.

How much should a glass neon sign cost?

When considering the acquisition of glass neon signs, the cost involved can vary dramatically based on a multitude of factors. These elements include the size of the sign, the complexity of its design, the quantity of colors employed, and the specific type of transformer that is necessary to power it.

For instance, a glass neon sign that is diminutive and uncomplicated, and that uses just one or two colors with a rudimentary transformer, may be obtained for a paltry few hundred dollars. In contrast, a sign that is grander in size and features multiple colors, intricate design elements, and demands a high-powered transformer could set you back several thousand dollars, if not more.

However, it is important to note that, while the cost of a glass neon sign may initially appear high, it has the potential to be an unparalleled and eye-catching mode of promoting your business or adding a distinctive touch to your home decor. When executed correctly, a glass neon sign of superior quality can become a valuable investment that pays off over the long term.

To provide you with a general approximation of the cost range for glass neon signs, a small sign measuring around 12 inches in length and utilizing a solitary color might commence at roughly $200, while a more sizable sign spanning 24 inches in length and utilizing multiple colors could amount to $1000 or even more.

Despite the initial expense, there are numerous advantages to investing in a glass neon sign. Not only are they visually arresting and attention-grabbing, but they also possess a timeless quality that makes them stand out from other forms of signage. Moreover, they are strong and long-lasting, rendering them a prudent choice for employment both indoors and out.

How long do glass neon signs last?

Glass neon signs, the epitome of enduring luminescence, are renowned for their longevity and robustness. A well-maintained glass neon sign can typically endure anywhere from 8 to 15 years, and remarkably, some can even surpass this lifespan. Nonetheless, one must acknowledge that several factors can influence the longevity of glass neon signs.

One of the primary determinants that can influence the lifespan of a glass neon sign is the caliber of the components employed in its construction. Signs fashioned with superior-quality materials are anticipated to have greater longevity in comparison to those fashioned with inferior-quality materials.

Additionally, the environmental conditions under which the sign is showcased can also influence its lifespan. The sign’s endurance can be compromised by exposure to extreme temperatures, sunlight, moisture, and various other environmental factors.

Learn more: How to hang neon signs LIKE A PRO? The ultimate guide

Do glass neon signs get hot?

Glass neon signs are renowned for their luminous, dazzling appearance, but a common question often arises concerning their potential heat output. The brief response is affirmative; glass neon signs do generate a certain amount of heat, but it is typically not significant enough to induce any safety apprehensions. As a matter of fact, most glass neon signs are crafted to function at a comparably low temperature to ensure their safety.

However, some aspects can affect the level of heat produced by a glass neon sign. For example, if the sign is overdimensioned or if the transformer utilized to energize the sign is overloaded, this could result in increased heat production. It is crucial to guarantee that any glass neon sign is appropriately engineered and set up to avoid potential safety issues.

Fortunately, several measures can be implemented to diminish the amount of heat generated by a glass neon sign. One conventional approach is to utilize LED neon, which produces a significantly lower amount of heat than conventional glass neon. Moreover, opting for a sign design that features intervals between the neon tubes can aid in enhancing air circulation and reducing heat buildup.

Regarding safety, glass neon signs are generally deemed a secure lighting option. Unlike other lighting types, such as halogen bulbs, glass neon signs do not produce UV radiation, which could be detrimental to individuals and objects alike. Additionally, due to their relatively low operating temperature, there is less danger of burns or fire caused by unintentional contact with the sign.

Learn more: The bright future of LED neon signs: Everything you need to know

Can glass neon signs get wet?

One of the most perplexing inquiries people often ponder is the question of whether glass neon signs are able to endure moisture. The answer, my dear friend, is a complex one as it is contingent upon the design of said signs.

Composed of glass tubes, gas, and intricate bends to create various shapes and letters, glass neon signs possess the capability to withstand moisture, but with certain stipulations. Upon sealing the glass tubes with electrodes on both ends and connecting them to a power source, the electrodes then generate a high voltage, resulting in the gas inside the tube ionizing and emitting the vibrant and vividly colorful glow that characterizes neon signs.

In spite of their lack of waterproofing, the ability of glass neon signs to endure moisture is dependent on their design. An integral factor in the creation of a water-resistant neon sign is the meticulous sealing of its electrodes, as well as the secure mounting of its glass tubes. It is imperative that the sign is placed in a sheltered location that is shielded from precipitation and other forms of dampness.

Using glass neon signs for outdoor purposes is an exceedingly popular choice among businesses and individuals alike. Not only do they provide a visually captivating and distinctive appearance, but they are also capable of withstanding various types of weather conditions.

Glass neon signs are ideal for numerous settings, such as storefronts, outdoor events, and even residential areas. With proper installation and maintenance, a glass neon sign can persist for many years, even when exposed to wet or humid environments.

Learn more: How to fix a neon sign: troubleshooting tips and repair options

What is the difference between LED neon and glass neon?

Neon signs, a beloved form of advertising and ornamentation, have undergone a transformation with the emergence of LED technology. Now, consumers are faced with a perplexing decision between the traditional glass neon signs and their contemporary LED counterparts. One notable disparity between the two types is the material employed to achieve the neon effect. Glass neon signs utilize genuine glass tubes filled with noble gases, while LED neon signs use bendable LED strips.

The glass neon signs, with their genuine and classic appearance, are in stark contrast to the sleek and modern LED neon signs. The glass neon signs’ unique and vibrant illumination is unparalleled by any other type of lighting, imbuing spaces with a sense of awe-inspiring radiance. Nonetheless, their frailty necessitates professional installation and maintenance, making them a more costly option.

On the flip side, LED neon signs are more affordable, easy to install and maintain, and eco-friendly. They are also more energy-efficient than their glass counterparts. However, LED neon signs may lack the same luminosity or color possibilities as glass neon signs.

Despite the advantages of LED neon signs, glass neon signs are still a sought-after choice for those aiming to create a one-of-a-kind, nostalgic atmosphere. The timeless quality of glass neon signs is difficult to duplicate using modern technology, creating a burstiness that captivates and dazzles.

Learn more: Neon versus LED: an indepth neon sign comparison.

Are glass neon signs better than LED neon signs?

The choice between glass neon signs and LED neon signs is not a trivial one and requires a deep understanding of the fundamental differences between the two. While LED neon signs utilize light-emitting diodes to simulate the appearance of conventional glass neon signs, glass neon signs are constructed by molding glass tubes into specific configurations and infusing them with gas to generate illumination.

When confronted with the decision of whether to opt for glass neon signs or LED neon signs, one must take into consideration their individual predilections and the anticipated usage of the sign. Nevertheless, for those who desire a top-notch, long-lasting sign that will undoubtedly grab attention, glass neon signs frequently prove to be the optimal choice. Despite the fact that LED neon signs may be a more budget-friendly alternative, they frequently lack the distinctive visual allure and resiliency of glass neon signs.

Do people stop using glass neon signs?

The decline in the utilization of glass neon signs has been a conspicuous trend in recent years, with numerous factors contributing to this shift. The emergence of cost-effective alternatives, such as LED neon signs, has played a significant role in this development. Additionally, the decreasing number of skilled neon sign craftsmen has contributed to this trend as the art of glass bending and neon lighting has become less popular.

Despite the decline in popularity, glass neon signs continue to hold a unique appeal that cannot be replicated by other lighting options. The key advantage of glass neon signs lies in their capacity to create a warm, inviting glow that can be tailored to suit any design aesthetic. With their vibrant colors and distinctive shapes, glass neon signs offer limitless creative possibilities, making them a favored choice for businesses and individuals seeking to make a daring statement.

Moreover, glass neon signs possess unmatched longevity that distinguishes them from many other types of lighting. With proper care and maintenance, glass neon signs can last for decades, thereby making them a wise investment for businesses seeking a long-term lighting solution. Furthermore, glass neon signs possess a timeless appeal that can add a touch of nostalgia to any space.

Customizing your glass neon signs with our app

In this rapidly-evolving era, consumers yearn for bespoke products that mirror their individualized preferences and exclusive flair. This holds particularly true for signages, where businesses aspire to make a resounding statement and distinguish themselves from their rivals. Enter our state-of-the-art application for personalizing glass neon signs.

Our Neon Sign Customiser app delivers a user-friendly and expedient avenue for clients to fashion their very own personalized neon signs. Clients can take their pick from a broad spectrum of fonts, hues, and dimensions to forge a sign that flawlessly conforms to their requisites.

One of the salient highlights of our app is that it lets merchants select the choice between glass neon and LED neon using the material selectable option. Using our app confers upon clients a gamut of benefits, including the capability to visualize the impact of customizations on the price. As patrons tinker with their sign, they can gauge how the price fluctuates in real-time, empowering them to make informed decisions regarding the design and cost of their sign.

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Glass neon signs have a unique charm and aesthetic appeal that is unmatched by other forms of signage. Although glass neon signs have declined in popularity in recent years due to the emergence of LED neon signs, they still have enduring appeal and benefits.

By choosing glass neon signs, clients can make a statement with their business or personal space, standing out with a one-of-a-kind design that captures the essence of their brand or personal style. As such, we encourage readers to consider investing in a glass neon sign, especially as our app makes customizing and visualizing the impact of different design choices on price easier than ever.

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