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For more than 100 years, neon signs have blazed brightly, humming faintly as their curved and bent tubes illuminate the night. From New York’s Times Square and Miami’s Ocean Drive, to Las Vegas’s strip and Tokyo’s Shinjuku, neon light signs advertise products, companies, and so much more.

An Evolution in Technology

Neon’s lo-fi tech made it attractive to even smaller businesses. Barber shops and restaurants, bars and local entertainment venues hung signs to attract attention. These bright, colorful signs shine even through dense fog and rain. But they’re still more expensive than LED neon signage. In fact, the very first neon signs cost up to $12,000. While prices have dropped considerably, they still represent a significant investment of marketing dollars. And neon remains an energy hog that’s expensive to operate. One of LED-based neon’s biggest benefits is its reduced energy consumption. 

For businesses who love the look of classic neon — but perhaps not the price tag — Faux Neon signs that use LED (light emitting diode) lights provide a more sustainable, cost-effective option. As the technology to create these lights evolved starting in the mid-1990s, they’ve become an attractive alternative to the traditional neon lights. 

Some of the advantages that these LED neon lights offer include:

  • Greater energy efficiency. LED lights can use up to 75% less energy than traditional incandescent lights, and less energy than traditional neon bulbs.
  • Longevity. LEDs last longer than regular, incandescent lights — up to 25% longer. Traditional neon lights also have long lifespans.
  • Visibility in sunlight. If you live in foggy London and have a choice between original and faux neon, opt for the original. However, LEDs shine more brightly in sunlight and work well in outdoor applications.
  • Flexibility for retrofitting. LED neon can replace most traditional signage lighting, an option that traditional neon doesn’t offer.
  • Limitless design possibilities. No design is too outlandish or challenging for manufacturers to build custom LED neon lights. Original neon tube lighting does have some structural limits.

Facts About Traditional and LED (Faux) Neon 

From small signs hung in storefront windows to giant billboards and towering signposts, neon lights provide a marketing staple helping companies, products, and services shine.

Neon glass fluorescents power traditional glass neon. Solid-state semiconductors power LED neon. Traditional neon’s input voltage ranges between 3KV to 18KV whereas LED’s average AC voltage ranges between 24V and 120V.

The average life expectancy for traditional neon can span up to an impressive 10 years when they’re well-maintained — but they’re comprised of multiple components, including transformers, tubes, and wires/plugs. These electrical parts don’t last as long as the gas in the tubes and can wear out sooner and need replacing. LED neon lights can produce up to 30,000 hours of light and require minimal upkeep.

Custom neon signs need protection from the weather — they’re great for indoor use where they won’t take abuse from snow, ice, or rain. LED neon lights fare better outside regardless of the weather.

A Bright Future for Faux Neon

Traditional neon signs remain a mainstay especially for people who love the retro feel the signage evokes. But LED technology allows signage manufacturers to create faux neon signs with:

  • Design and display flexibility that includes color changing and even fade/flash options, since each tiny bulb can be programmed independently of the others
  • Branding that matches company logos exactly to help maintain brand integrity
  • An easier, faster, less expensive installation process, because of its flexibility and lighter weight.

The following Metro clients have embraced and used LED neon to create unforgettable, original exterior signage.

Ryder Revere

This multi unit residential building stands just across the street from the beach. Located in historic Revere Beach, the project owners wanted to evoke the area’s lengthy history, from its well-known dance pavilions like The Crescent Gardens Ballroom and Spanish Gables to its famous Cyclone and Lightning Roller Coasters.

The luxury apartments’ faux neon sign, with its LED bulbs, provides the perfect touch of whimsy, blending the area’s modern and traditional flavors for a cool new vibe. The faux neon offered the perfect option thanks to its durability and weatherability.


Trillium Brewing, founded in 2013, decided that it needed to update its signs. The craft brewing company, whose five locations include a seasonal beer garden, taproom, restaurant, and brewery, wanted a sign that embodies its community focus and commitment to minimizing its carbon footprint.  

Metro installed an LED color-changing channel letter set designed to look like neon on the roof of the company’s Fort Point location in the Seaport district. We also manufactured and installed the taproom’s exterior signage in the Fenway — another open face illuminated sign with LED-neon flex tubing.


Never was the phrase “Go big or go home!” been more apt than for the Massport Sign at the Braintree Split — especially since it alerts travelers (who just might be heading home) to the location of Massport’s Logan Express Park & Fly commuter parking lot with shuttle express to Logan International Airport!

Five poles support this 46-ft tall sign, which comprises nine total signs per side — or 18 different cabinets — including several huge 20’ oval signs. While the original project specs called for traditional neon, Metro proposed switching to a faux neon LED product to keep costs from escalating. Travelers can see the easily visible sign, which is set back from the highway. The decision to use faux neon will also reduce the sign maintenance, since LED neon lights better withstand the effects of the weather.

Companies don’t have to sacrifice quality, versatility, or visibility when they opt for eye-catching and creative signage. Faux neon’s range of signage uses is limited only by the imaginations of the design team.

Learn more about the benefits of LED neon signage and check out some of our other projects that feature faux neon signs.


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