Neon Signs and Electricity Consumption: How Much Do They Cost to Run?

How much electricity do neon products consume? This question is increasingly important in times of rising energy prices.

Illuminated letters and logos are usually a key element of brand identity or interior design concepts and cannot be rationalized away so easily – simply switching off their illumination to conserve energy is not an option in most situations. In the end, advertising that is illuminated fulfills an essential function that cannot be quantified by an economic cost-benefit analysis.

It is nevertheless sensible to have an overview of the power consumption of LED-based products and neon tubes. We will understand the root of this matter by providing specific examples and then contextualize the findings by comparing them to the typical energy usage of the most common household appliances.

LED neons use power to produce it.

LED neon advertising could be categorized as very energy-efficient. The majority of electrical energy is utilized to generate light, therefore in addition to the power consumption, the heat generation is relatively small, in comparison to traditional light bulbs.

LED neon flex is powered by 12 or 24 volts and has an operating life of more than 100,000 hours. LED-based products usually require only one transformer (power supply units).

The process of calculating the power usage of an LED neon sign isn’t too difficult, which means it is not necessary to have a degree in mathematics or engineering. The following parameters are needed: power in watts, length of LED tubes in meters (m) as well as operating time in hours, and time (h).

It makes sense to calculate the amount of energy consumed per hour to allow for extrapolation to longer durations later. The power consumption average for LED neon is about 9 Watts per square meter (W/m). A logo or lettering with an overall tube length of 5 meters thus consumes 45 watts per hour: 9W/m 5m x 1h = 45W/h or 0.045 (kWh). (kilowatt hours).

Then you can calculate power consumption for the month and the year. It is also relevant to how long the LED neon light stays on during the night. Let’s suppose that the illuminated logo is on for eight hours a day.

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

Adidas Flagship Store Berlin

Let’s illustrate this mathematical calculation by demonstrating it with a concrete instance, namely this LED neon pre-mounted on Dibond plates that we designed for an upcoming Berlin Adidas flagship store in 2020.

The sign illuminated has a total dimension of 200 x 50 cm The total length of the neon LED tubes is 6 meters.

Let’s suppose that the neon sign is in use for ten hours, six days per week.

The average energy usage of LED neon is about 128 kW over a year. The more precisely you know the parameters that apply, the demand, and consequently, the costs can be calculated.

Power consumption of Glass Neon

The energy consumption of “classic” neon tubes, i.e. neon products consisting of bent glass tubes is a bit more difficult to calculate than for LED neon. The length of the tubes isn’t the only element. It is also important to look at the thickness of the tubes (between 8 to 18mm), the capacity of the transformer model, and how many transformers are needed as well as the quantity and kind of systems (individual components of the neon). So, the issue of how much power is used by neon tubes isn’t an easy one to answer.

Example 2: Glass Neon Credit Card

N26 Office Berlin

Let’s take a look at another one of the neon color Classic Blue that has been on display in the Berlin office of N26 since 2021.

Two of our standard transformers with an output of 8kV/30mA are required for the operation of the neon, which measures approx. 100 x 63 cm. It consists of seven glass systems.

At this point we spare ourselves from the entire solution path to make a reasonable estimate beyond the quantity and length of the connecting cables connecting the systems, it is also necessary to be taken into consideration as well that there is a form of “voltage curve” that is present in glass neon. Neon transformers self-regulate, and thus the voltage will settle over time, at around 60 percent of the maximum power during operation. In this case, the energy amount is 0.29 kWh. Assuming that the neon is on for 8 hours each weekday, it would result in an annual average consumption of 603 kWh.

It should be noted that this result cannot be generalized. The dimensions and shape of each neon sign will determine the specific power consumption.

Neon’s power consumption in comparison

Which devices use the most power?

Below, we’ll take look at some household appliances that can help you understand your energy needs.

All figures are estimations. Actual consumption of power will depend on the size of the model and energy efficiency as well as the frequency at which you wash the laundry. The washing of laundry three times every week will be more effective than just one wash cycle.

  • Laptop: An average notebook can consume between 15 and 22 kWh each year.
  • Dishwasher: An approximately 60-centimeter-long dishwasher (multi-person household) consumes 70 to 80 kWh per year.
  • Refrigerator: A fridge that is of medium size in the highest energy efficiency class can consume as much as the equivalent of 125 kWh per year.
  • Washing machine: Most commercially-available models need around 200 kWh of energy per year.
  • Television: A flatscreen model with 55-inch screen dimensions consumes around 225 kWh of electricity per year.

With 129.6kWh this LED neon sign above is at the middle of the range. Consider that many of the appliances in this article are only used occasionally and neon signs are typically in use for longer periods. Therefore, you can certainly call it an energy-efficient product.

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

Short answer: Yes. In essence, you can begin with the assumption that a dimmed illuminated sign is less energy-intensive which means that the following is true: less brightness = less electricity. Be aware that dimming and control systems can be integrated into illuminated signs, and require electricity to run. It is important to know this before you decide to commission the sign. In addition, dimmed (LED), neons consume less power.

Our LED neon products can be dimmed using a remote and controller. It is possible to select this option from the LED Neon Configurator.

The dimming process of glass neon is accomplished by turning the rotary switch on your power supply. You can also select the dimming transformer from the Neoconfiguration.

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

More information about our products in our Neonproduct page as well as in our Product Catalog. If you have concerns about a particular product, please contact our team.

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