Why Are Neon Signs So Expensive? Here’s the Answer

Why Are Neon Signs So Expensive? Here’s the Answer

Using neon signs is a great way to advertise your business. Many people use neon signs mounted on high and easily observable points so that customers can see them from afar. Thanks to their bright and vivid colors, neon signs stand out quite a bit.

But, when it comes to purchasing them, the first thing that could come to your mind is "Why are neon signs so expensive?"

It’s true, they are quite costly.

Of course, it is still a good idea to buy them, but you may be wondering what exactly causes them to be so expensive. That is what we're going to be discussing in this blog post. We're going to talk about what makes neon signs so highly-priced, and then we will talk about what other options you can opt for instead.

But first, let’s preface the discussion by…

Understanding Neon Signs and How They Work

Neon signs are quite an old and popular signage option. They are often used by businesses for the “Open” and “Closed” signs, as well as for the main sign board for their premises. The reason that they are so popular is because of their visibility and aesthetic appeal.

These signs are essentially made of glass. They are made up of glass tubing that contains different types of inert gases (which are also known as “noble” gases) such as neon and argon.

When an electric current is applied to one end of the glass tubes, it travels to the other end via the gas contained inside. This causes the gas to light up and give off a vivid color.

The working of a neon sign is similar to that of normal fluorescent tube lights (that are slowly getting replaced by LED lights). In tube lights, the tube is also filled with a gas that lights up when electricity is applied to it.

Why are Neon Signs So Expensive?

Why are Neon Signs So Expensive?

Now that we’ve seen how neon signs work, let’s take a look at what makes them so expensive.

1.  The Manufacturing Materials

The first thing that contributes to neon signs’ cost is the materials they are made of.

  • First of all, the casing/tubing is made of glass. And not just any glass, but special lead glass that can be bent into specific shapes without breaking or cracking. Neon signs are made to be installed in all types of places, both indoors and outdoors. As such, they have to be durable. This durable and high-quality glass is not exactly cheap, and that is why the cost of neon signs is a bit high.
  • Secondly, these signs, as we mentioned earlier, contain gases like helium, argon, and neon. These gases can be expensive to procure, and this causes an increase in the overall price of neon signs. This can be the case especially if the signs in question have to be made in a very unique shade. Normally, neon and argon are used in these signs, and the latter is quite affordable. But if there is a need to incorporate gases like xenon, then the price can increase.
  • The third thing that can cause these signs to be so expensive includes all the electrical components. Normally, when it comes to signage, electricity isn’t that often used. But in normal types of signs like backlit ones, the electric components involve simple LED lights, etc. In other words, there is nothing too delicate and intricate. However, this is not the case with neon signs. The electrodes and wiring required in these signs to properly channel the electricity from end to end can be, at times, expensive to procure and difficult to set up.

2.  The Manufacturing Process

To further answer the question of “why are neon signs so expensive,” we’re going to discuss the manufacturing process.

One of the reasons why these signs are expensive is because they are not very easy to make. When you need to have a neon sign made for your business, it means that the manufacturers will have to shape the lead glass precisely to form the logo/name (or whatever it is that you need) of your brand.

The Manufacturing Process

The technique and time taken for this process are quite significant. To understand just why neon sign build cost can be so high, you can compare it to other types of simpler signage methods.

For example, if you need to have a simple backlit sign, the actual manufacturing process isn’t that formidable. Normally, these types of signs are either made of plastic lettering or they just have the name/logo printed on them. The same goes for fully digital signs that use LED screens. It is simply a process of programming the screen to show the required text, message, image, etc.

But that is not the case with neon signs. First, the glass has to be melted and handled expertly to form the needed shape. Then, it has to be filled with the right combination of gases so that the required color is displayed. The process requires skill, and that is why it comes at a greater price.

3.  The Rarity and Novelty

This is another, albeit not a major, reason for neon signs being expensive.

Nowadays, proper neon signs with glass construction aren’t used very commonly. People prefer using cheaper alternatives instead of spending money on genuine neon lights. However, businesses that want to stand out still favor them as their choice of signage.

Since they are not as commonly used nowadays, there aren’t a lot of companies that manufacture them. If neon signs were to be completely abandoned and rendered obsolete, they would actually become cheaper. But they are still sought out by businesses that want long-lasting, aesthetic, and unique signs for their premises.

Due to this whole dynamic, neon signs have become something of a rarity and a novelty. Manufacturers put a lot of effort into customizing them according to the needs of their customers—which is something the latter appreciates. That is why neon signs are somewhat more expensive than other forms of signage.

These factors make up the custom neon sign cost overview that we wanted to provide to explain their comparatively high prices.

Is it Worth Getting a Neon Sign?

Yes, neon signs are definitely worth getting.

The full answer to the question is as follows:

Is it Worth Getting a Neon Sign?

If you have the funds and if you have a business that requires prominent signage, then it is definitely a good idea to spend money on neon signs.

To give you a better perspective of just why we say they are worth acquiring, here are some of the main benefits they provide:

  • They are long-lasting. They don't get worn out like normal signs and boards, and they don't need to be replaced frequently.
  • Due to the bright light they give off, neon signs have a very high visibility. They can be seen from quite a distance, and that can be very beneficial for your business’s advertising.
  • They don’t require a lot of maintenance and they also won’t rack up your electricity bills. Neon signs are made to work on a low voltage current, and they don’t use up a lot of electricity even when constantly running.
  • Another benefit of neon signs is that you can have them customized precisely according to your requirements and preferences. This is also one of the things that make them highly worth it.

What are Some Affordable Alternatives to Neon Signs?

You may not have the budget available to acquire neon signs for your business, and that’s quite all right. For the time being, you can suffice with some other more affordable signage option and then buy a neon one once you have the funds available.

Here are some of the affordable alternatives to neon signs that you can buy to promote and advertise your business.

Faux Neon Signs

These are commonly known as LED neon signs. While they look similar to the actual ones, faux neon signs use acrylic instead of glass. They use LEDs housed inside the acrylic casing to give off the same type of vibrant and vivid look as proper neon signs. There is no neon or argon gas involved.

While these signs have a similar appearance, they don’t provide the same benefits as actual neon signs. They are significantly less expensive and they can be an excellent signage choice for businesses that have a low budget.

3D Letters

3D Letters

Signs with 3D lettering are also an excellent alternative to neon signs. These signs are usually made of plastic. The plastic is shaped to form the name or logo of the brand. There are LED units housed inside the plastic lettering that make the whole sign light up during the night time and provide excellent visibility.


And there you have it. That is where we’re going to bring this post to an end.

Hopefully, after reading this post, you know the answer to the question of "Why are neon signs so expensive?"

There are a bunch of different factors that contribute to their high price, such as the materials they require, the technique they use to form, as well as their somewhat rare availability.

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