Do Window Neon Signs Have A Future?
The formed glass tube window neon as we know it will soon be disappearing in the 2020’s much like tube televisions have in this decade. “The neon graphic has a bright future” so to speak, says Ray Starsiak. Ray has been involved in brand advertising using neon since the 1970’s. Neon lit signs have always been visually attractive and stand out in day and night. They are intriguing because it is one of the few things we view with a combination of rods and cones in our human eye. The light is steady and not strobing with electric cycled current. Think of it as the difference between candle light and alternating current powered lighting.
Neon signs as a technology is what will be disappearing. The many steps involved in producing neon is very taxing on our resources and environment. Brand Advertisers put up with it because it was the best medium for a window sign. Glass neon holds up to the bright sun and heat extremes. Now there is a new development.
“Better Than Neon” has been the claim by a lot of faux neon attempts at replacing window neons. In the 1980’s we had “neo-neon”, a term to describe a fluorescent backlit half-round neon graphic printed on a black background plastic. In the 1990’s we started using phosphor edgelight plastic on the black background. In the 2000’s dome LED’s worked their way into plastic faux neon signs. They were better, but as we sculpted the designs in tight formed plastic the electronics would still break down in high heat windows.
The largest users of window signs, US beer distributors, thought that the LED replacement was history until the 2010’s. SMD LED technology became brighter and less costly. Sign suppliers started building the electronics into smaller molded tube-like plastic. They even mounted the plastic forms on metal frames to look like glass neon signs. What all these “Better than Neon” attempts had in common was “plastic”.
“SILICONE” is the game changer” for the neon look graphic. It is not plastic, it is in the rubber family. It has a high temperature range of -67F to +572F. The LED circuitry is insulated in the silicone to withstand retail window temperature extremes and sunlight. This new Silicone-LED combination is unbreakable, flexible and brighter than neon. It is powered safely at low voltage.
The Silicone LED tube has been available in large diameter format for a few years. It is commonly placed outdoors as architectural highlights for buildings where neon was previously used. Recently it has been taken down in diameter for smaller retail window signs. Silicone-LED will soon be taking over the window neon sign advertising category. No More glass tubes, high volt power and mercury infused gas.
“NOEN” is the term coined by Ray Starsiak for the new visual format. “Just take the word NEON, spell it backwards, turn the E and you get “NOEN”. Both words are similar, just like their graphic visuals. It will be an easy vernacular transition” adds Ray Starsiak, “when you describe a NOEN sign, people will get it. We will just have to add it to the dictionary in our spell check programs”. Soon we will be saying, “look at that cool NOEN sign”.
The change from glass tube neons is already seen as a “no brainer”. The NOEN core material, silicone, is considered as a very safe polymer with virtually no toxic effects. There are no mercury disposal requirements as with neon signs. Noen signs do not require over packaging for glass breakage in shipping. They will be powered safely at low voltage direct current. Switching out old signs will have an average three-year payback in power savings. The new NOEN-LED technology is virtually undetectable side by side. We will soon get past neon nostalgia. The new credo is "neon, if it’s not broken, break it"!