What's the difference between real neon lights and LED neon?
Actually, it's a big difference!
While it can be hard to tell in photos because the quality of LED manufacturing has become so good with innovation, it is a completely different light source in so many ways.
Ask any diehard neon fan, and guaranteed you'll hear their passion for the science and magic in the answer. When neon "lights up" you are seeing the result of chemistry.
How it works.
Neon gas is a rare non-toxic earth element existing high up in the Earth’s atmosphere! In neon lights, this gas "glows" to produce a mesmerizing natural light when excited by electricity. Basically, when you turn the power switch on, the current flows through hitting the neon atoms and providing them with extra energy. We call this "exciting the neon". When the neon atom releases that excess energy, it glows a visible light.
How it's made.
The glass is handblown by professionals at very high temperatures over an open flame. It is shaped in parts to make a complete design. Each part is filled with neon and other gases, like helium and argon, to change the colors. The gas is sealed in the glass tubes, and black paint is applied to mask areas of the design that are not meant to light up.
The light effect of real neon has been described as a unique, intense, brilliant light that is appealing to the human eye. It also takes time to learn how to capture on camera just right!
Innovation has advanced the manufacturing of LEDs (light-emitting diodes) incredibly over the last few years. Unlike neon lights which are gas discharge lamps, LED neon is made with tiny diodes encased, and specially placed, inside plastic tubing that is designed to look like the glow of neon.
The tubes are sometimes called LED "soft neon" because they bend to form shapes. The thicker tubing is often mounted on an acrylic backing because it is harder to bend, and pieces must be wired together to make a seamless design.
As technology advances, the casing tubes for the LEDs become more flexible, thinner, and generally resemble neon even better. LED Neon is a safer alternative to real neon, non-breakable, and longer-lasting.
So What Should I buy?
Well, that really depends on your needs or what is important to you!
Real neon is magical, but also fragile and not fixable if broken. And the craftsmanship of handblown glass is an art form, one that takes professionals over 8 years to even attempt to commercially bend. Because it is labor-intensive, there may be small imperfections, and bends must be painted black to hide the light. Of course, this is all part of the appealing love of neon lights. If you're looking for the real deal, this is for you!
LED neon is generally non-breakable, a safe alternative to fragile glass neon lights. It is lightweight, easy to hang (if wall designs) and portable (for battery versions) making it great for kids, nurseries, and dorm rooms.
Whatever you decide to choose will be perfect for you! All our products are packaged well with layers of foam and branded boxes, whether real neon or LED neon, they all make amazing gifts too!