While it’s not exactly rocket science, there are some facts that will help you select the right neon open sign the first time.
1. Set a realistic budget
Under $100 “Budget” signs
While there are “okay” neon signs that will cost you less than $100, they only work in very specific situations. Most $99 ( or less ) open signs use “low voltage neon”. It’s still “real neon”, in that the light comes from neon gas in a glass tube, but there is a tradeoff for that low price…
Brightness: Real neon transformers cost a fair bit of money, so these “low voltage” products cut costs by using a low-cost power supply and electrodes that will work with them. They look terrific at night, and do well if your front window is shaded. However, they aren’t nearly as bright as a full power sign, and don’t work well in bright sunlight. See the picture below:
Size: While there are high-quality signs in smaller sizes, most cheap neon signs are 12″x24″ or smaller. A larger open sign will be easier to read. 13″x32″, or even better, 20″x37″, will be much more readable. The rule of thumb on readability is to have one inch of letter height for every foot of distance. So, a 10 inch letter will be optimally readable from as far as 100 feet away. ( It’s readable farther than that, but “grabs attention” out to 100 feet )
Other touches: Higher quality neon signs have the back half of the glass tubes painted black. This reduces reflections, and projects the light forward, where it does the most good. Most higher end signs will also come with a one year or more warranty on the electrical parts of the sign.