The life of a neon sign depends a lot on where it was built, if they are built in the USA then you will have the best quality neon sign , but if they were built in China then you will get a very low quality neon sign.I have written about this before in more detail , go here if you want to read that post http://www.theneonsignguyblog.com/neon-signs-made-in-china/
But in this post i want to write about the best practices on how to have a long living neon sign and not have it die prematurely.
I will consider you have a good quality neon sign, so one of the first things i tell my customers is that it’s not a good idea to have a neon sign on 24/7, if you do you are cutting the life of the sign almost in half. And here’s why.
All manufacturers of any type of electronic or electric device will make the device last longer depending on the materials with which they were built, so what they do is put in materials in which they know the life expectancy is “X” .
Manufacturers of cars for example could make them so they would last in perfect working order for 20 years, but then they would sell a lot less cars, same happens to everything else you buy, in neon the parts that wear off are the electrodes in the glass (metal part inside the glass with two wires coming out) and the transformer, the best transformer sold right now (which is made in china but of good quality) should last you between 8 and 10 years, and the electrodes should last you the same time, but if you have the sign on 24/7 then the life of the transformer and electrodes are cut in half.
So the best practice is to have your sign on only when needed, could be all day and part of the night but then turn it off at around 1 am-8am,.
And this is the reason why they have a limited working life .
First they are engineered to last that long, in other words it in their genes,but what makes a neon sign age?.
Every Electrical device and electronic device has parts that are heating up, some more than others, in the case of computers they even put a heat diffusing element in some circuits so the heat is absorbed by this element that is mostly made of aluminum, but eventually it will fail, the reason for this is that everything that heats up is actually cooking, just like food, the internal parts of the transformer and the electrodes are cooking in a very slow way but they are cooking, and when you cook something it is physically being transformed, until the transformation is so that it is not what is used to be, its properties are no longer there, and then they fail .
So consider that your neon sign has a limited number of years of life so do not waste the life of your sign don’t use it when not needed.
Another bad practice i’ve seen is to have your neon signs outdoors, they were not made to be outdoors, the problem is the transformer not the neon, the neon is immune to whatever the environment can bring, except hail and rocks, but the transformer is very sensitive to moisture, water, humidity, it ruins the circuit inside, plus it also ruins the paint that some signs have. That paint is used only in beer neon signs and it’s water based, so when exposed to humidity it will start to damage the paint and will eventually make the paint flake and start to fall off.
So hope this tips will help you take care of your neon signs
thanks for reading