Neon Signs Custom LED Signs Terms

Signs for San Diego is a commercial sign company that designs, makes, and installs all different types of signs. The public at large calls these “neon signs”, building signs, company signs and a range of other names. Insiders have a set of names the public in general does not understand or use. This short piece will “decode” some of these names. If you want to sound like an insider, or just be more effective at getting the exact sign you need, these will help you speak “sign” language. This sign is from Punch Bowl Social in San Diego.

CHANNEL LETTERS: Back in the days when everything was neon, all illuminated signs were a Neon Sign. There was a need to channel the light from these neon tubes into the shape of a letter. The channel is the side of the letter. These were always metal, and most were 5” in depth. The result is the term “Channel Letters”. This is the first term you need to know. A channel letter sign is metal walled shape that directs light to the front or the back (or both) to make a three-dimensional letter. We call the walls “returns”. In sign speak they are all returning to the starting point.   

Channel Letters

FRONT-LIT CHANNEL LETTERS:  this is a channel letter where the light comes out the front, The front is usually covered with a shaped acrylic face. The lighting element can be neon, or LED. Today these are known as Custom LED Signs, but the sign people just say front lit or face lit channel letters. The returns (walls or sides) were 5” so the neon could fill the face (front) with light. With today’s LEDs 5” is not needed to do this. Many people feel a 3” return is more modern looking; it is more elegant.  So, if you want front lit channel letters, you are likely asking for a 3” return lit with LEDs with a color of 6500K and an acrylic face, with tripcap.

            TRIMCAP is a plastic 90-degree trim piece that lets the return and face attach. It can be in ½” ¾” and 1” normally. The refinement is to specify the colors on the return (the side wall), the trimcap (and the face. Black returns, gold trimcap and red faces are common on Chinese restaurants, Black returns, black trimcap and a white face is common for light colored buildings, there is a range of stock colors available, but black, white, and red are the most common.  custom colors are painted and any color you want is available.

Blog halo lit channel letters

HALO-LIT CHANNEL LETTERS: Halo-lit letters are also called reverse channel-lit letters. The light does not come out the front, it comes out the back. They are aluminum faces and returns with an open back. They back a detachable clear Lexan back with LEDs that face inside the letter and reflect an outline or “Halo” on the wall they are mounted on. These are thought of as more upper end than Face Lit. They are commonly seen for professional businesses, doctors, lawyers, CPAs, Upscale Malls, Art Galleries.  While they give an upscale impression, they also are harder to read at night and require a flat background (wall) behind them. If we do not have a flat wall, we can often make a flat surface with a pan.

OPEN FACE CHANNEL LETTERS This was more common 50 years ago and with neon. Today there are many cities that require clear faces over these for safety. They can give you that 1920s look and feel and are nostalgic to many. Open Neon is a safety issue, Neon requires 5000-18000 volts. These can be dangerous if arced through a person. These a niche signs used for specific purposes

Web Punch Bowl Social Channel Letter B

There are a lot of other sign types, but these are the most common found in shopping malls and main streets in the US. Picking the right sign type is very important. “Nearly two-thirds (64%) of women 18-24 years old reported drive-by failures.” That is, they cannot find the business! This results in less sales, less cash flow, and less profit. “29% of American consumers report having been drawn into unfamiliar stores based on the quality of its signage.” Good quality and attractive signs increase traffic and profits. “More than a third of American consumers (34.5%) report having made quality assumptions about a business on the basis of clear and attractive signage.” Having the correct sign in good condition is very important to the success of your business

Now that you speak “sign” language you can communicate more exactly, faster and get what you need for the maximum foot traffic into your business. Signs for San Diego is a commercial sign company that designs, makes, and installs all different types of signs. We can help you create that sign that is exactly what you need. While the public calls these “neon signs”, Custom LED Signs, building signs, company signs and a range of other names, you know these are Channel Letters. Specifically Front-lit channel letters, with returns and trimcap, Halo-lit channel Letters and Open Face Channel Letters. You now know the secrete decoder ring to terminology. Need a channel letter set?  Give us a call and let’s get going!!  760-730-5118

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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