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Thinking about a channel letter sign for your business? You are not alone. In the past year, Loumarc Signs has installed over 50 channel letter signs. Their popularity will continue to grow. Check out our simple guide below to help you learn more about illuminated channel letter signs. 

  • What is an illuminated channel letter sign?

A type of sign containing three-dimensional letters and a light source within the sign to provide its illumination, according to the International Sign Association.

  • What are the benefits?

An illuminated channel letter sign is one of the most cost effective ways to advertise your business and capture a customer’s attention 365 days a year. The lighted channel letter sign is visible and readable day and night, in all kinds of weather. When a sign is illuminated, drivers can read it more quickly according to International Sign Association.

Channel letter signs are also customizable in font type, size and color. Even when your business is closed, your business is being seen by potential customers, and advertised 24 hours a day. Lighting adds unique features, whether neon or LED (Light Emitting Diode), states the International Sign Association.

  • What is the cost range?

The short answer is $5,000 to $20,000-plus. Strip mall retail store channel letter signs may range from $4,000 to $7,000. The price depends on the size and the options you choose. Last year, Loumarc Signs trained crew members installed two channel letter blade signs, each $30,000. A blade sign is a type of sign mounted so the sign’s face is perpendicular to the normal flow of traffic.

  • What are the two main types of channel letters?

Illuminated channel letters may be front lit or reverse lit.

Front Lit: Standard channel letters have aluminum sides and backs with colored acrylic faces. LEDs illuminate from the front, or the face, of the letters.

Reverse Lit: Reverse channel letters are also known as “halo lit.” They usually have aluminum faces and clear polycarbonate backs. The lighting option entails light coming from the back of the letters. The result is a halo light around the letters, which gives a softer, stylish look. At night, the effect may be somewhat less readable. 

  • What are the two ways to mount the signs?

With a raceway: A raceway is a four-sided rectangular panel that encloses electrical components and wiring. The channel letters are mounted with a raceway, which means the individual letters are fastened on and wired into the raceway. The raceway is installed on the building and then the electrical source is connected to one location. Raceways allow for easier installation and service. The raceway can be painted to match the wall. Some property owners require raceways for channel letter mounting on their building.

Directly mounted (without a raceway): The channel letters are installed without a raceway, which means the individual letters are fastened directly onto the building. They are wired through individually and connected on the inside of the building. You will see the building façade behind the letters.  

  • What are the two types of illumination?

The two options are LED, or Light Emitting Diode, or neon lighting.

LED is a low voltage while neon is high, so LED is safer and uses less energy. Another difference is LED is easier to work with while neon is fragile glass, a handcrafted glass tube. Neon also contains mercury while LED has no heavy metals. LED provides bright illumination in all temperature levels.

Some people find neon lighting more appealing. Why? The exposed neon emits colors in a varied way when you observe the warm and alluring glow of a neon sign. In comparison, LEDs emit a solid, uniform color. Some prefer the nostalgic look of neon versus the bright, futuristic look of LEDs.

But LED wins in energy efficiency. The life expectancy of LED is 50,000 to 100,000 hours, depending on the LED. An LED rated for 50,000 hours means operating 10 hours per day for over 13 years!

According to the International Sign Association, the colors you choose will also affect your sign’s illumination. If you want the sign’s colors to match your print and media advertising exactly, keep in mind some forms of illumination are better at accurately displaying color. International Sign Association

That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced sign consultant before designing your sign. A properly lighted sign should be bright enough so it can compete with other signs in the area without being objectionable. Some ordinances may impose limits on brightness, so consult with a sign consultant to understand the rules and determine whether your sign will be visible at night. International Sign Association

  • How long will illuminated channel letter signs last with proper maintenance?    

The sign’s aluminum construction will last virtually forever, according to Larry Gliozzi, founder and president of Loumarc Signs. Aluminum is a strong, lightweight material used in the sign industry. It’s durable and affordable compared to other sign materials. The component is rustproof and waterproof, so it’s weather resistant. The thin and lightweight properties make it easy to customize, yet embody strength. Metal finishes also give a classy, professional look to signs.

LEDs will typically last a minimum of 13-plus years. The acrylic face on a face lit letter may last 8-10 years before fading or cracking. Power supplies will likely require maintenance in 3-5 years, according to Larry. Loumarc Signs offers a sign guarantee for three years. 

  •  What is Loumarc Signs’s 3 year sign warranty?

Loumarc Signs guarantees your sign(s) to be free of defects in quality, construction and installation for a period of three years. 

Coverage includes: 

  • Paint against fading, chipping and peeling
  • Material against warping, cracking and deterioration
  • Electrical components such as neon, LEDs and LED displays, transformers, ballasts, and power supplies. Note: high output lamps carry a two year warranty. 

If any item fails during the guarantee period, Loumarc Signs will repair or replace the affected components free of charge. 

  •   How do you decide what options to choose?

Your sign consultant is here to advise you. Your preferences are only one aspect to consider. For example, sign regulations may restrict the size of letters and overall sign size. Christy Gannone, Loumarc Signs marketing consultant, suggests reviewing the following questions with your sign consultant to better understand your options.  

  1. What are you trying to accomplish with your business signage?
  2. What is your sign budget?
  3. What are the sign regulations for the location, including size restrictions?
  4. What exactly do you want on the sign? Do you need to include a logo?
  5. What is the building’s façade made of? Is the surface corrugated or smooth? 
  • Why choose Loumarc Signs?

It may be hard to judge quality on a drawing and quote. One way to understand the difference of Loumarc Signs as compared to other sign companies is to view the signs onsite.

“If someone is quoting you a channel letter sign (project), go see the signs they’ve installed two years ago, not the ones they’ve installed two weeks ago. Are they falling apart? Are they fading? What do they look like? Get the full picture of what you’re investing in.” Christy Gannone

Not all sign companies design, install and maintain channel letter signs. For sign shops to offer channel letter signs, the situation requires a licensed electrician, bucket trucks, and special permits.

Channel letters attached directly to the building are in high demand these days, but crew members need to be trained to perform the installation. The application requires all wiring to be done inside the building. It can be difficult to do because the building’s impenetrable “I” beam may obstruct installation or an office may be on the opposite wall of the exterior sign’s location.

Not all sign companies can handle the job. The team at Loumarc Signs takes special care to minimize disruption for customers and their buildings. Want to see more signs the team has installed?

Shannan Seely

Shannan Seely is a NJ writer for Loumarc Signs. She writes about choosing the right business sign, how the permit process works, sign costs and other business signage topics. Loumarc Signs is a NJ custom sign shop in business for over 24 years. Once a customer approves the sign, Loumarc Signs handles the rest — from permits to plans, fabrication to installation. 

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