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Neon Signs: Are They Energy Efficient or Energy Wasters?

How much electricity do neon products consume? In this era of increasing prices for energy, this question becomes increasingly relevant.

Illuminated logos and lettering are frequently a major part of brand identity and interior design concepts and cannot be disregarded so easily – simply switching off their illumination to conserve energy is therefore not an option in all situations. In the end, advertising that is illuminated fulfills an essential function that cannot be quantified using economic cost-benefit analysis.

However, it is sensible to get an overview of the power use of neon tubes as well as LED-based products. So, we’ll understand the root of this question here using some specific examples and then put them in context by comparing them to the average energy consumption of common household appliances.

The power consumption of LED Neon is a result of its LEDs.

Advertising with LED neon is highly efficient in energy use. The majority of electrical energy is utilized to generate light, therefore along with the power consumption, heat production is quite minimal, in contrast to, for example, conventional light bulbs.

LED neon Flex is available in the range of 12 to 24 volts with a service life that exceeds 50 years. LED-based products typically require just one transformer (power supply unit).

It is easy to calculate the amount of power used by the LED neon sign. The following parameters are needed: power in watts, length of LED tubes in meters (m) and operating time in hours, and time (h).

It makes sense to determine the energy consumption per hour to be capable of extrapolating to longer durations later. LED neon has an average power consumption of 9 Watts per meter (W/m). A logo or lettering that is 5m long will use 45 watts per hour. 9W/mx5mx1h equals 45 W/h or 0.045 Kilowatt Hours.

Now you can extrapolate power consumption to the month and year. It’s also related to the length of time that the LED neon sign stays up during the night. Let’s suppose that the LED logo illuminates for eight hours per day.

Example 1: LED Neon “Ick bin een Berliner Original”

Adidas Flagship Store Berlin

Let’s demonstrate how to do this mathematical calculation by using an actual example: this LED neon pre-mounted on a dibond plate we created for the Berlin Adidas flagship shop in 2020.

The sign illuminated has a total size of 200x50cm and the length of the neon LED tubes is 6 meters.

Let’s suppose that the neon sign is used for ten hours, six days a week:

This LED neon consumes an average of around 168 kW per year in energy. The more precise you are in your ability to estimate the cost and demand, the easier it will be.

Power consumption of Glass Neon

The energy consumption of classic neon tubes (i.e. It is harder to estimate the energy consumption of neon products that are made of bent glass tubes than for LED neon. Alongside the total length of the tubes made of glass, the power consumption depends on several other variables: the color and the diameter of the tube (we work with thicknesses between 8 and 18 mm) as well as the power of the specific transformer model as well as the number of transformers required; and the number of systems (individual glass components which make up the neon). The question of how much power is used by neon tubes is difficult to answer.

Example 2: Glass Neon Credit Card

N26 Office Berlin

Let’s look at another example of neon in Classic Blue which has been adorning the Berlin office of N26 since 2021.

Two of our standard transformers having an output of 8kV/30mA are required to power the neon which measures around. 100x 63cm and is made up of seven glass systems.

We will not give ourselves the entire path to solution because, for a realistic estimation in addition to the number and length of connecting cables between the systems, it is also necessary to be taken into account in addition to that there is a kind of “voltage curve” that is present in glass neon. The voltage is settled at 60% of its maximum power after a while because neon transformers self-regulate. In this case, we will get the energy content to be around 0.29 kWh. If the neon is switched on for eight hours each weekday, it would result in an annual average consumption of 603 kWh.

This isn’t a generalization. The dimensions and shape of every neon sign determine the specific power consumption.

Neon’s power consumption is in contrast

Which devices consume the least energy?

To put the numbers in a better context, we will look at the energy requirements of some typical household appliances below.

It should be noted that all figures are approximate averages. The actual power consumption will be contingent on the size of the model and energy efficiency and how often you wash your laundry. Washing laundry three times per week will be more effective than one wash cycle.

  • Laptop: For a typically equipped notebook, you can expect that you will use 15 to 22 kWh.
  • Dishwasher: A 60-centimeter-long dishwasher (multi-person household) consumes 70-80 kWh per year.
  • Refrigerator: A fridge that is of medium size in the highest energy efficiency class could consume more than 120 kWh per year.
  • Washing machine The majority of commercially-available washing machines need 200 kWh annually.
  • Television: A flatscreen television with a 55-inch diagonal screen consumes approximately 225 kWh per year.

With 129.6kWh, the LED neon sign above is in the middle of the range. If you now consider that the majority of household appliances mentioned here are only used sporadically in comparison to a neon sign that is usually in operation for longer periods it is a sign of a product that is energy efficient.

Bonus question: Do dim (LED) neons use less power?

The simple answer is. The simple answer is yes. But beware: there are dimming and control systems into which the illuminated sign can be integrated that require electricity for operation themselves. This should be known before you decide to commission the sign. But, aside from that the power consumption of dimmed (LED) neons are much lower.

Our LED neon products can be dimmed by using the use of a remote or controller. This option can be chosen in the Neon Configurator.

Manual dimming of glass neon is accomplished by switching the rotary switch on your power supply. The dimmable transformer also can be selected within the Neon Configurator.

With this insight into the power consumption of neon as well as LED neon, we hope we have brought some light into the darkness!

Additional information on our products is available on our Neonproduct page as well as in our product catalog. If you have specific questions regarding a product, please contact our team.

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