Marquee Letters Terms

Signs for San Diego, A commercial Sign Company, makes Marquee Letters. These are also called Illuminated signs or Channel Letters. These terms are explained.

Every industry has its own set of terms, and “Channel Letters” are a great example. “Channel Letters” are used on restaurants, retail stores, large businesses, and many other places. “Channel Letters” are the common lighted signs seen everywhere. So, let’s define some signage term!

The depth of the letter comes from a “channel” or a wall.

Standard channel letters are 70-80% of the letters installed. These light the front.

Marquee Letters - Raceway Terms

Reverse Channel Letters project light to the back. These are also called “Halo Letters” or a “halo effect” letter or back lite letters.

Who uses Channel Letters? Most channel letter users are using these signs at night. This makes sense for businesses that are: high profile or open after dark. Restaurants, stores, clubs, bars, department stores are all good candidates. Many large companies want their name to know, and these signs do exactly that. Businesses that only work during the day are much less likely to use or need channel letters.

Marquee Letters - channel letter terms

Light sources – There are 2 light sources: Neon and LED. Neon is less expensive to make and found in all the older installations. Neon has been around since 1910 and was popular from the 1920 through the 1960s. Neon is disappearing rapidly. While currently less expensive to produce, LED pricing is coming down quickly. Neon required a high voltage transformer and high energy consumption. Properly made, neon will last for 20-30 years, but some neon is much older. It comes in a range of colors and the shapes are made to fit. The tube diameters and typically 15 mm. smaller tubes require more power to produce the same light. The tube diameters have driven the width on channel letters in the past. Channel letters are typically not narrow and avoid fine points and curves because the Neon supporting these cannot conform to these shapes. Neon is an art form and there is a nostalgic renaissance occurring as the mainstream uses disappear.

LEDs: LEDs have several advantages. They consume less electricity, they are smaller, they can be brighter, they are not fragile, and they do not require the heat, melt and bending skills of Neon. The return is they are easier to get, use and are taking over as a light source in Channel letters.

What is a Raceway? – A Raceway is a long box that can be mounted at the bottom, the middle, or the top on the letters. It is normally at least 3.5 inches deep. Raceways are normally the same color as the wall behind them.

author avatar
Developer & Designer
I, Frank Murch was born in Honolulu. Dad was an Army Captain. After his separation he drove my 2-year-old self and Mom to Colorado. After starting Kindergarten and terrorizing my parents, brother and sister for 20 years, I graduated both Kindergarten and the University of Colorado. I worked at Coors Porcelain for a time and then a series of high-tech companies in California, Pennsylvania, New York, and Tokyo. Along the way I gathered letters to drag behind my name MSEng, MBA.  30 years later I started Signs for San Diego. Signs for San Diego is a manufacturing company. Much more about building signs than other Sign Companies; it comes from my background. Technical Capability is a focus. We are a wholesale source for the industry. We want to make the best sign possible. It is in my DNA. Applying 30 years of manufacturing experience and 10 years of entrepreneurial experience make us the best sign company around. I also am of the HP management culture, Inclusion, respect and treating people as adults makes Signs for San Diego a happy place to work. We are looking for customers that match our culture, happy, better quality, and better than what is generally available