Neon may not be dead, but it is on a resuscitator. Neon was first successfully demonstrated in 1910 by Georges Claude at the Paris Motor Show. It’s still manufactured pretty much the same way. If you haven’t seen any of the many YouTube videos on the process, it’s worth the time. Many neon shops have shuttered as more energy efficient technologies, such as LED, have taken hold. However, there are billions of lineal feet of neon that still must be maintained, repaired, and replaced.
Neon tubes require a high voltage to operate, perhaps as much as 15,000 volts. Accidental electrocution and fires are rare but are more likely if wired incorrectly. Electrical codes are there for a reason. Compare that to LED’s which utilize 12 or 24 volt power supplies. So, you love the look of authentic neon, but you want to avoid the risk and high energy costs? What are your options?
Faux neon, also called LED border tubing, is now available in a nearly unlimited array of colors, contours, and profiles. Some are bendable, cut in the field, and can be dimmed. Best of all, as volume goes up, prices are going down.
Many national brands are returning to the look of neon for their retail stores. Energy efficient LED’s, combined with very creative engineering, have revitalized this 110-year-old favorite. If you like the look of neon, you might want to look again at alternate technologies.