Neon or LED - What's the difference?

We're often asked "what's the difference between Neon and LED and which one is better".

It's a great question and one that needs a bit of explanation - its very easy to get confused.

Traditional glass tube Neon 

Traditional neon dates back to the 1920's and was used to create eye catching, brightly lit signage to grab people's attention (think Vegas in the early 70's and you'll know exactly what we mean).

Neon signs are produced with delicate glass tubes using heat to bend them into shape. Gas is then filled into the tube and traces of mercury are included to give the neon its specific colour. When an electric current passes through the glass tube it reacts with the electrodes in the gas to create a bright light. 

Traditional neon is expensive to make, it is extremely fragile and if the glass tube cracks at any point, then the gas escapes and the neon won't work. It also uses high amounts of electricity and is very bright - you can't dim a glass neon light. 

Here's an example of traditional neon from the Las Vegas strip. 

LED Neons 

LED or LED neon creates a very similar effect to glass neon but with multiple benefits.

LEDs are made from light emitting diodes (LEDs) that emit a bright coloured light. The LED strips are wrapped in a polymer jacket for added protection and a flexible and easy to shape. They are much lighter than traditional neon and far more durable given that no glass or gas is used. 

LEDs do not require any maintenance although if they get damaged it may not be possible to repair them. 

Another major benefit of some LED neon lights is that you can select their level of brightness to suit your room, mood or the time of the day) and they can be controlled by remote. 

Below shows various colours of unshaped LED strips


Here at Lights up your life, the off the shelf lights that we sell on our site are LED neon. We specialise in LED because we think that it's much better for safety, low power consumption and for overall durability.

Many of our LED neons are powered by USB and some smaller lights have the option of batter power. They are also very easy to hang and do not require any drilling, you can simply hang them from the wall or place them on a shelf (traditional glass neon often requires a specialist electrician to install) and drilling may be required).

If you ask us to make a custom made LED neon, it will come with a remote to allow you to select the brightness and even choose from a number of different flashing options, although we prefer our lights to be static. 

If you're a specifically looking for a bespoke traditional (glass tube) neon, we can certainly help you with that too. 😊

For inquiries for custom made neons and LED neons, please message us via the Contact Us tab or Click Here.