Signs: LED lighting revolution & retrofits

Signs for San Diego offers LED retrofits for signs. These retrofits are popular with companies and it’s easy to understand why.  Older signs have Neon and florescent lamps. Let’s look at these older technologies and see what they are all about:


Neon in signs was first used around 1910, it had a long period of popularity from the 1920s through the 1960s. Neon signs can be open, exposing the neon or inside a channel letter.  The ability to shape, bend and make neon tubes to fit inside the letters made it idea for the time. LEDs are smaller and can do the same thing, but they have a few big advantages:  the electrical usage is about 1/10th that of Neon, LED use 12, 24, or 36VDC electric that is safe, Neon transformers are from 5000 to 15000 volts. I shock from a Neon transformer can kill. Neon is in a series of glass tubes, Glass cracks, breaks, leaks, and requires repair.  LED is generally brighter.

feb Neon Florist
Feb Channel Letter Auto Neon 2
feb Service fluorescent lamp 2
xRetrofit to LED in an Vista Pole Sign


Fluorescent Lamps were the energy savings and a standardization breakthrough from GE in the 1930s and were widely used during World War Two.  For sign cabinets Fluorescent Lamps replaced Neon after WW2 and were the default lighting for cabinets through 2000.  They are about 30% more efficient than Neon, come in standard lengths and are cheaper to use and replace. The voltages are much lower, a striking voltage of up to 600 and a running voltage around 100V.  It is safer cheaper to run, cheaper to buy and has a life of about 2000 hours. However, LEDs are cheaper yet, about 1/7th the energy cost, 10,000 hours or more and often brighter. In California Fluorescent lamps have been deemed “republican” and will be banned by 2025

Retrofitting from fluorescent or neon to LED makes sense. LED retrofits pay for themselves through electrical savings and reduced maintenance costs, offer in less than 2 years. The life of an LED module are significantly longer that Neon or fluorescents, on the order of 5-10 times. LED lighting is consistently better quality. LED retrofits are not only a good choice, in most cases they are the only choice.

Want to learn how we can retrofit your signs? We’re here to talk.


  1. Retrofit Fluorescent to LED Pylon Signs
  2. Retrofit Neon to LED Sign Cabinet
  3. Retrofit Neon to LED Marquee Letters or Channel Letters
  4. Retrofit Neon to LED Sign Cabinet
  5. Retrofit Fluorescent to LED

We do a lot of retrofits for customers that are looking at a “repair or replace” decision. Give us a call and let’s get going!

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