Patriots Neon Signs

Many of the New England neon bar signs I've found are the current NE Patriots logo with the patriot facing right wearing the flowing red, white, and blue hat, the "Flying Elvis". The difference between the logo and the sign is sleight, the logo is a gray face which obviously won't be recreated with neon, and the expression is close, but not dead on. The color matches are accurate. The blue neon tubing makes up the same bulk portion of the hat and the red tubing flares to the back in 4 tubes (please excuse my terminology, I don't know how to describe it, tri-fold hats?) The face is outlined in white tubing, which both represents the gray face and fills out the American red, white, and blue color scheme. The particular model I'm looking at has four red tubes and measures 13" high x 22" wide x 4 3/4" deep. UL listed, 110-120V, weighs 8 lbs, 10 foot cord.

Those are most popular now but there are others. There's the helmet design mounted on a gray plastic plate with the New England logo centered in the middle. The glass neon tubing outlines the helmet in red and white, the white tube hugging the red plastic face mask. These are cheaper neons as they're smaller 9" x 8" x 4" but they're officially licensed as well and will of course hang on your bar's wall. This type of sign is perfect for lower-view areas and secondary rooms, though would be fine out front as well. From what I've seen of Boston at least, I assume they'd be happy to see all NE neons (though nowhere near as fanatical fans as of the Red Sox, like I really need to tell you). Oh, when you order, again, compare shipping prices, sometimes shipping is free, and make sure your power supply transformer is included. Hmmm, maybe should I should make another post about this, but transformers are now being made more narrow than they used to be. When all other things are equal, including power output, get the thinner design.

Also you'll come across the New England signs advertised as neon but are actually fluorescent. There are no neon tubes, they are 3D carved clear hard acrylic plastic. Most people can tell the difference, but they do give off a bright neon effect, so it serves its purpose (I'll personally remain a neon fan myself). It's a flat clear plastic with the team logo above and to the left of the "Patriots" lettering. Above the plate is a 110-120V fluorescent light that you simple plug into the wall. It hangs on the wall or in a window just like any neon sign and measures 12" wide x 8 1/2" high. These also make good lower-visibility room fillers or will look good in a home office, bedroom, or den. Not what screams out to me as a high quality professional sign, but an option nonetheless. These come in red, green, and blue.

Another model is the approx. 35" by 24" Miller Lite Go Patriots neon. Centered is the popular Miller Lite cursive logo lettering (Miller is orange, Lite in blue) surrounded in 2 white neon circles. Offset to the right is the New England Patriots logo as we all recognize it painted. As opposed to our first sign, though, this logo is outlined in blue neon as opposed to made up of neon. Underneath both of these cheating left is the blue neon lettering "Go Patriots". If you can't find these on the usual sites, you may get lucky on Craiglist. The Coors Light Patriots sign. The top of the neon reads "Coors Light" Official Beer Sponsor (Coors in red, Light in white with the official NFL logo to its right. Underneath is a different Patriots logo from the rest described here, in that our Patriot faces left. Sorry, I don't have the measurements or details of this one in front of me right now.

Holy cow, you know what, I forgot about the old school Patriots logo neon sign. The "Pat Patriot" logo was designed by Phil Bissell when they were the Boston Patriots. The logo was a mean-faced colonial patriot full with red tri-cornered hat, red socks, white pants, and blue frock, facing us and leaning, ready to hike the football. For those who haven't seen it, it kind of resembles a red, white, and blue pirate. The (UL approved) Commemorative 1961 New England Patriots neon sign measuring 36" high x 26" wide strongly resembles the Patriots logo. Pats fans are mixed on this design, many prefer the new logo. Personally, I love the historic figure logo. This would look kick a$$ in a bar. Anyway, the neon tube colors perfectly resemble the logo and they also use a flesh-colored tan neon for the face and hands. It's good for wall or window hanging, though it's large, so it's mounted on a large heavy gauge metal frame.

All right guys, I was going to fully detail the Miller Lite and Budweiser Pats signs, but I gotta take a break! Maybe I'll come back and do some more later. Believe it or not, these are only a few of many different New England neons. Catcha later.

Pittsburgh Steelers Neon Signs

What blog would this be without a post about Pittsburgh Steelers neon bar signs? I grew up just outside of Pittsburgh so I know firsthand how loyal fanatical Pittsburgh fans are about the Steelers. It's a love-hate relationship at times but under the surface it's all love. I'm not going to cover the history of the Steelers themselves as it would take too long and I'm not qualified. But if you're a bar owner in Western Pennsylvania and you don't have Steelers gear, you're likely missing out on a loyal black and gold customer base. Btw, where do you think I got the idea for the black and gold blog colors?

I'm going to cover some Steelers neon sign designs but first a brief history on the Steeler logo. The 3 diamond design originated from the American Iron and Steel Institute, which looks similar even today. U.S. Steel used the logo as a marketing campaign push for steel itself. Radio, newspaper, and tv ads used the Steelmark logo on all kinds of products. The logos meanings changed but the colors came to represent orange for ore, yellow for coal, and blue for scrap iron (all materials used to make steel). AISI agreed to change the Steelmark from "Steel" to "Steelers". Their helmets were originally yellow and the emblem was only placed on the right side of the helmet, the only team to do so. The 1962 team became the winningest team in their history so to add a special flare they changed their helmets to black. The logo has never been changed and the Steelers remain the only team in the NFL to have their logo on only one side of their helmet.

One of the more popular Steelers neon bar signs is that of the official logo with yellow, red (orange but it looks red to me), and blue diamonds attached at the tips with the word "Steelers" in white neon protruding left from the tips. A white neon circle surrounds the logo. This sign measures 22" x 22" and includes a mounting kit with 3 hanging options, standing, ceiling, or wall hanging. The particular model I'm looking at uses a 110v plug and a 10 ft. extension cord. Probably one of the simplest designs. One of the less expensive signs is the 9"x 8"x 4" Steelers helmet neon. This shows the right side of the helmet (facing towards the right) with the white Steelers logo on black. The neon portion of the size is two tubes, one triphosphor white, one clear brite yellow, that form the outline of the helmet. Face mask included in the design. This is a wall display but can also be standing.

The next is a clear acrylic plastic Steelers sign that measures 12' x 9' w/ 2 pin plugs for 110-220v. This to me doesn't even look like a neon sign. These are the cheaper rectangle signs you'll see but there is a hanging chain and while I don't see any neon tubing, there is a neon lighting effect (it probably saves you electricity). This is one color, either a blue or red lighting effect. When it's turned off, it really just looks like etched glass with a florescent light above it. This particular design is exactly the same as the first I've described, but without the multicolored diamonds. But of this particular kind of sign, there are many different designs I'm seeing online, most cheaply priced at under $100 (note: likely not the true neon sign you're used to seeing in sports' bars). The other designs in this class are a Steelers football helmet with the Steelers emblem, the one in front of me happens to be yellow, though I suspect whoever this supplier happens to be offers all of these in different colors. You know what, check that, the bulbs are probably multicolored...duh (slaps forehead). Then there's exactly the same sign, same measurements, of the helmet w/ emblem but with the word "Steelers" underneath and to the right. I'm thinking these signs are mostly for people looking for something to hang in their den, sports room, office, or bedroom. I'm sure they could still be hung in a bar or pub, they just look a little cheaper than true neon signs to me.

The next one I like is this 11" x 8" black plaque with the three colored diamonds and in white lettering "Pittsburgh Steelers". I like this because it would otherwise be a great metal sign, but it also happens to have an orange neon border. The neon wraps around the lettering and the diamonds, so it's different and it's sharp looking. Again, this hangs on the wall and is 110v-240v compatible. Next is a 11" x 10" 100-240v neon with an old school black and gold design on a shield-shape sign. The top half of the shield is black lettered "Steelers" on gold, bottom half is white background colored Steelers logo on black. This is all surrounded with a bright yellow glowing neon tube also in the shape of the shield. This hangs on a metal chain like the rest, I like the design and colors of this one.

All right, this post is getting long, so I'll finish with some of my favorites. Some of my favorite sports neons are actually the company branded/organization ones such as Budweiser/NFL, Bud Lite/Steelers, Budweiser/Steelers, Miller Lite Browns (just kidding), but you get the point. I just think it's really smart advertising on both their parts and I just think they compliment each other. I'm looking at a pricier Miller Lite Go Steelers sign. It's larger than the others I've listed, 24" x 33" 110 volt U.L. listed transformer. This one says it's professionally made with a very quiet transformer and convenient on/off pull string. This sign is sectioned off into 3 parts. Top left in red, white, blue and yellow is the "Miller Lite" lettering. Directly underneath is "Go Steelers" in appropriate gold/yellow neon. To the right, and smaller than the Miller section is the colored Steelers logo surrounded in circular yellow tubing. The next is a 2 section Bud Lite Steelers neon sign. The top half is the Steelers yellow, red, and blue diamonds with white "Steelers" lettering, circled in white neon. Bottom section in white neon reads "Bud Lite" with red neoned oval border. Around the red is another 2 part white neoned oval. Very cool, another 110 volt, with transformer, measures 24" x 24". I'll finish this off with two very similar but different Budweiser Steelers designs. One is a 13" x 9" 110v-240v with Steeler logo on white with a red/orange neon. Beneath in beautiful cursive writing "Budweiser" in orange/red brightness. The next is similar but it measures 19" x 15", 120 v and the Steelers logo is much larger than the cursive budweiser print and white neon instead of the red/orange. All right I've written way too much again, I gotta take off and go pick up my buddy.

New Neon Bar Signs

We've discussed the advantages of buying used and now we come to the advantages of buying new neon bar signs. A new sign is the only kind of neon that you'll get that's customized (unless you happen to have the exact same bar name as the sign you'll find at a discount store or elsewhere). The customized sign has more marketing leverage than a generic sign because of the custom message you'll be showing to your customers. Unless you have a friend that's a really good glass bender and electical technician, you'll have to purchase new if you're going the custom route. Another good reason good to purchase new is because newer bar signs are going to be in better condition and will be more efficient. Newer neons give off a stronger glow and the better wiring generally on the newer makes will be more energy efficient, thus saving you money. You likely don't need a detailed explanation of why brighter light is better for your bar. If your glowing white OPEN sign is vibrant in the middle of the night in a town where almost everything's closed except your diner, you're going to suck in the teenage kids driving around looking for a bite. If your OPEN sign is dim or fizzing, they may not see it and they'll just hit the Wendy's down the street that does have a bright welcoming glow. I've read that this happens oftens believe it or not. The biggest downside to buying new neon bar signs is obviously the price; however, don't be fooled. The best signs are not always in the $200-$300 price range. Will you find expensive, professionally made ones online or at local shops? You better believe it. But consider trying online auctions like ebay for new signs. As of this writing there's a simple white new OPEN neon sign that measures 12" x 9" going for $25, including shipping! Now I won't lie, it's a basic sign, but it's new and it's working and it's 110-120v USA compatible with hanging chain (or an optional 220-240v plug for overseas buyers). For serious business owners buying new might be the best choice. Buying used neon bar signs of course has its advantages, but you may be stuck waiting for the perfect sign or end up with an inferior product.

It can difficult trying to find the best place to purchase new if you are looking for the highest quality for the best price. I'm not at the point yet where I can tell you who has the very best deals on neons. There's so many reputable companies to choose from and it wouldn't be fair for me to say who "the best" is. Not to mention the fact that your local neon makers might be better choices than what you'll find online, not so much because of the quality of the bar sign but because sign manufacturers and dealers will know the local bar and club codes and laws. But let's face it, even if you spent $300 for a sign that you could have gotten away with spending $50 for, what's the difference if that sign brings in $500 worth of extra business for you in the next two weeks? I encourage any business owner to look for the best deal obviously, but figure out how much your time is worth. If it takes you months looking for that perfect "Sally's Diner now OPEN til 9PM" glowing neon, how much time have you spent when you could have just ordered a custom neon for maybe a couple of hundred more? How much time have you wasted tracking down that "perfect deal". I talked about my buddy Chuck finding his Houston Texans sign for $20 off Craiglsist. Great deal. But it took him about 5 months. I did a search today and found the exact same sign for about $90 after shipping (new). If you've got the time to hunt down exactly what you're looking for in your area, great, but I don't know any bar owners that are timerich.

Some of the things you should look for when purchasing new. Obviously the electrical outlet. Finding the perfect neon does you no good if the electrical sockets don't correspond with your sign. Usually you'll have a 110-120v electrical outlet so if your sign is made for that you're good. Find out if you'll need a transformer or not and if it's included or not. Don't be afraid to call or email sellers to make sure, they want your business and will be more than happy to assist you. Get a ballpark as to how much electricity you'll use as well. Most of the modern day neons are much more energy efficient than the old school ones, but make sure you're comfortable with your new electric bill, more typically if you plan on running many neon bar signs 24/7 nonstop. Which brings us to safety. Always know what your neon and/or transformer safety standards are. Make sure you're hanging the neon off of a stable material and using the proper hardware. How hot your neon gets will help determine where to locate it. Energy efficiency. If a newer OPEN sign costs $200 but is 50% more energy efficient than the $25 OPEN sign example we used earlier, you could make up the costs in less time than you'd think. I'm not trying to scare you. It's really not too too involved, but like anything else, a little research into even modest business investments can produce surprising results. Buying new neon bar signs is no different. Price is another factor. New neon is a great way to go but if a simple neon sign saying "Sally's OPEN" prices at $500, maybe you could get away with just OPEN, especially if you've already got a much larger beautiful custom neon of Sally's already. What's the purpose of the sign? If it's just to display that you're open, maybe you can save your money on the cheaper alternative. Think about the marketing purpose of the signs but also use your head and common sense as well.

Used Neon Bar Signs

So when should you buy used neon bar signs as opposed to purchasing them brand new from a custom neon manufacturer or off of other neon signage websites? The biggest advantage to buying used is obviously the reduced price (you're welcome for stating the obvious). If someone is selling used they are obviously looking for a change in decor or are looking to upgrade.

I've seen these used signs laying in a corner on the floor in backrooms of bars with the extension cords wrapped around them, just collecting dust. I asked the manager what they do with them and he said he'll probably either just donate it or sell it. "Why, would you like to buy it?" he asked expectantly. Being that I don't have much use for a used lite beer sign, I didn't want to insult him with a low, low offer (but maybe I should have). Occasionally I'll drive by and see a used neon sign sitting out by a dumpster, so many owners obviously just throw them away. But managers and bar owners probably only throw away neon signs that are broken. They don't want to be bothered getting them fixed when you could just find one on ebay for $40 or $50. Here's a decent way to find the exact discounted neon you're looking for. My buddy Chuck picked up an old Houston Texans neon sign off of Craigslist for $20. Craigslist is awesome for picking up great deals provided you don't mind trusting the owners sometimes over-flattering descriptions and taking a ride to pick it up. The other big problem with C. List is that you hardly ever find exactly what you are looking for exactly when you need it. If you've got time to wait, one trick is to sign up for their RSS feeds and just check them every time they're updated. For example, say I specifically wanted a cheap (probably used) green Rolling Rock neon sign in the shape of a bottle. Well I can find this on ebay right now. In fact I'm looking at one and it's going for $225 plus $40 for shipping in the U.S. and you'll have to wait 2 weeks. I mean it's a cool sign and all, but $265 and half a month later for a R. Rock sign is a bit much if it's for personal use. I'm checking Google right now under "rolling rock bottle neon sign" and the first two I find are priced new at $250 and $300. I didn't even check their shipping rates, most charge for shipping, some don't, but you get my point, they're usually expensive new. So if you don't want to pay and don't mind waiting, just go to Craigslist looking under the "collectibles - for sale" section and sign up for the RSS feed. And wait. And wait, and wait and wait. And then wait some more. Just keeping checking the feed (it updates automatically) for Rolling Rock neon signs, and eventually someone should post one that fits your description, usually for a reasonable price. Chuck did this with his Texan's sign and four or five months later someone posted saying to make an offer. He replied back an offer for $20, and bam, he had a deal. Oh, one other method. This may be even easier, I haven't tried this. Post what you want under the "wanted" section in Craigslist. Just put in the title "Used Rolling Rock Bottle-Shaped Neon Sign". I don't know if it'll work, you may have to post it several times, but you may get lucky.

Now obviously there's some flaws buying used neon signs using this method. If you're a teenager looking for something cool to hang on your bedroom wall with your allowance money, CL will work. But let's face it, if you're a bar owner the last thing you want to do is spend months online looking for an exact neon sign that fits your business needs just to save a few bucks. Your time is money. You may be better off just investing the $200-$300. The really cool thing about Craigslist though, is there is no shipping costs and in most cases you can pick up the neon sign in a day or two. That's overnight shipping without the fees. And for practicality sakes, used neon bar signs are basically just as good as new neon signs. Which is the next point. We've discussed a little how to find the best used neon signs, but perhaps I should have started with SHOULD you buy used neons (what can I say, I'm a crappy writer, sorry)? Neon signs are notorious for working extremely well for a period of time and then flickering and sputtering. This happens more with outdoor neon signs because of extreme weather, but it does still happen to indoor neon signs. So please, when purchasing used neon signs, make sure they operate properly. Ask the seller what the quality of the light is, how old is the neon, is the wiring of good quality, is the extension cord messed up, etc. It's great to find a $20 neon sign, but if it's flickering, you may be better off just buying new. Remember, neon signs are used for marketing purposes. If your first impression on customers is a dying, faded sign, they make think the same first impression of your bar. So skimping can cost you money if you're not careful. But again, if the neon sign you're buying is only months old, the owner didn't have it turned on 24/7. he/she maintained it properly, and the sign and tubing is in good shape, then it'll probably be as good as new. Of course buy it at a discount! Also, sometimes you have to buy used neon signs. Manufacturers are not allowed to create any sign that they want. You may want a vintage neon sign that is not in production anymore because the copyrights might still be enforced. There will only be so many of those signs out on the market. Those signs, obviously, will be more expensive. Is it worth it to purchase for your business? That depends. If your bar is centered around a nostalgic theme, then yes, probably. If you serve the oldest mixes and drinks, modern neon signage won't do you much good. There are also some really great vintage custom neon sign makers so don't assume that you always have to buy used. You can get the perfect vintage neon look and not have to worry about it being unfuctioning or malfunctioning later. You'll have it brand-spanking new.

Okay I better wrap this up. Used neon signs can be much more cost-effective investment in your bar or restaurant than new signs. You already know the benefits of neon bar signs in general, the visibility from distances, the branding, asthetics, etc., but if you have the time to shop around for used and discounted signs, then you can buy many more of them and spend your money on other parts of your business. Again, you should do your research when choosing what neon signs to use. It is fact that neons help your bottom line. There aren't too many cases of them actually losing you money. But put a little thought into it. What's your message, your purpose, your call-to-action. What are you trying to say to your customers about your bar? How can you get them to eat, drink, or visit more often? For most restaurant/bar owners, it's mostly about your bottom line. Buying used neon bar signs may very likely be a better investment than new signs.

Neon or LED Signs for Your Bar?

Bar owners and managers face plenty of difficult decisions, so what type of advertisement sign they use probably isn't at the top of their list. But choosing the right sign in the beginning is important because it absolutely can affect your bottom line. So here are some considerations to make when choosing between neon or LED signs. First of all, check your local laws. With outdoor or window advertising, you may not even have a choice. Often property managers and local laws lean toward using LEDs, so your decision between neon and LED may already be made for you. Neon signs are gas-filled glass tubes that give off beautiful bright light. They stand out incredibly at night, especially red, white, or yellow-lettered ones. When uncovered, neon signs are brighter and typically are considered to stand out better than LEDs. The downsides are that neons burn more electricity and they don't stand up as well in winter (depending on the temperatures and how the sign is made and installed). Neons are not as durable as their counterpart either.

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. LED is a lower voltage compact system that is generally easier to maintain and uses less electricity. LEDs are considered to be better overall than neon because they provide the best long term cost savings. They are also more durable and operate at lower temperatures. LED Flex and Neon-Flex are newer kinds of LED lights that are said to save up to 70-80% of energy costs when compared to neon. They are housed in flexible plastic and can be bent or cut. They are lower temperature, are almost or as bright as neon (depending on color and other factors), and are very durable. Also noteworthy is that as LEDs are taking over many aspects of lighting, neon signs are being considered vintage and are becoming collectibles.

LEDs are becoming more mainstream. Traditional neon is said to use roughly 2-3 times the wattage per linear foot, though neon advocates maintain that you get more for your money with the extra light output. Depending on the size of your business and how much light you're using, some claim you could save hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year by using LED; however, the savings may not be worth it to you if your sign is too dim and it draws in less customers. There is conflicting information and LED technology is always changing, so I recommend comparison shopping between different brands. Seek out the voltage numbers and compare brightness. Ask different sign companies who manufacture both neon and LED what would be better for your needs. If the brightness of the LEDs satisfied me I'd probably go with them. But if the sign wasn't bright enough, I wouldn't be comfortable skimping. Also consider decor. There is a noticable difference between LED and neon bar signs and secondary lighting and the overall brightness of the room will come into play. Believe it or not, both neon and LED have staunch supporters and reasons for choosing the signs they do. As with most of your future business decisions, ultimately the choice is up to you.

Neon Sign Regulations

Depending on local city laws, there can be many technical regulations on indoor and outdoor neon signs. This article is meant to give you an idea of what to look for when seeking the go-ahead to put up commercial neon signs. You must contact your businesses township or city for your exact specifications. The brunt of this article addresses mostly outdoor regulations, as indoor regs are fewer. Again, you must practice due diligence.

Assuming that your locality allows new construction of neon signs, a permit may be needed along with details of the sign such as the color, the design, the dimensions, and the height hanging off of the ground. If attached, the sign's structural and electrical standards need to meet local building codes. The sign's pole or rigging standards must meet the codes as well. Some local laws are more strict, such as when placing multiple neon signs, you may need to provide a site plan of the small area including roads, driveways, parking lots, buildings and landscaping. You may also need to provide details of existing signs like colors, construction, elevations, type of illumination, lettering sizes and styles, and dimensions. Signage cannot be allowed to interfere with traffic volumes or line of site and primary or secondary lights cannot produce glare on the road. The signs cannot resemble street signs or mislead or disrupt road traffic in any way. Lighted signs cannot be too bright for the same reasons. Often signs will be permitted from posting on trees, rocks, utility poles, fences, lamp posts, in rivers or streams, and other certain of public property. Be aware as well that signs may not be accepted for obstructing natural views. Generally pre-existing signs cannot be built upon or enlarged without approval. Some local laws require a commercial sign to be used for advertising purposes for a certain amount of time or be removed. This may not affect neon signs per se, but you may be required to keep even neons lit for a consecute number of days (use it or lose it). Learn the specific rules and laws regarding neon signs with moving parts as well.

Also remember that commercial neon signs must be properly maintained by their owners. Despite the number of signs you see with lights out, they are usually legally obliged to keep them working and in neat order. And more important than operating correctly for visual reasons, they must be properly maintained for safety. You may be required to clear overgrown vegetation beneath your sign as well. It's also very important to remember to keep signs out of the way of access to utilities for repairs. If unsure if your sign would be acceptable size-wise, find out from your township or city what size limits there are to commercial neon signs as well. They can give you a maximum square footage as well as any height or dimension limitations on the pole.

This list can seem pretty intense and detail-oriented but from I read and hear, the process, while still very important, is less formal and intense as detailed regulations would have you believe. But don't take this too lightly. Just down the road from me I saw a large beautiful restaurant neon sign taken down at great expense to its owner because the sign was too tall and was overly visible to the parallel highway. I imagine the owner did not research the local laws well when getting the permit (or maybe he never actually got a permit?). Fortunately for many bar owners, interior neon bar signs are far less formal. They must still conform structurally and electrically to building permits and follow window and exit sign regulations among others, but compared to outdoor signs, it's simpler (also most commercial interior neon bar signs used are SGS approved or have proper certifications). Again, understand that I am not a regulatory or legal expert. This information is meant only to keep you aware of what is necessary to study in regards to neon bar signs. Please consult your local regulations and read the sign specifications or contact the sign manufactors directly to make sure you are okay.

History of Neon Lighting

In order to appreciate neon bar signs more fully, it's helpful to learn about the history of neon lighting. In the mid 1800's engineer and glassblower Heinrich Geissler, inventor of the first glass thermometer, developed the Geissler tube, the forerunner of the flourescent lamp. The Geissler tube was a glass cylinder that contained combinations of air, liquids, minerals, and argon. The electric current runs through the tube through two electrodes, and the glass tube glows.

Neon gas was discovered in England in 1898 by Nobel Prize winning Scottish chemist Sir William Ramsay and English chemist and founding director of IISc, Morris Travers. Ramsay and Travers liquified air in the cold and then captured the boiled off air when it warmed again (fractional distillation). The gases given off were xenon, krypton, and neon. Neon is a colorless gas unless electrically charged under precise conditions in the tube, when it gives off a reddish-orange glow. Neon, abundant universally but more rare on earth, is a very light noble gas. While other gases were used in neon sign making, the term neon became universally accepted. At this point in history, lighting with neon was not yet imaginable.

It wasn't until 1910 that French inventor and chemist Georges Claude makes a lamp with neon gas. Claude was fascinated with the process and formed a business, Claude Neon. He brought neon signs to the United States in 1915, the first buyer a Los Angeles car dealer, early signs that neon lighting was more a commercial advertising purchase than a general illumination purchase. In the 1950s neon sign maker Artkraft Strauss dominated the large signmaking market. Artkraft Strauss was originally Strauss signs when Benjamin Strauss merged his engineering firm with Ohio neon sign maker Artkraft co. They became famous for their New York smoking camel sign, the Bond Clothing waterfall display, and their managing the New Year's annual ball lowering. Today Artkraft Strauss still consults and designs beautiful corporate signs, theatre marquees, historic restorations and more.

Ever since the 1970's smaller neon signs became collector and display items in parlors, bedrooms, and basement. The dimmer lighting in pubs and bars are perfect for neon lighting and advertising and neon bar signs are still extremely popular. In the 1990's neon colored glow sticks became the rage. While glow sticks had constructive purposes such as for diving, camping, and emergency situations, people to do this day wear glow sticks on their hands, wrists, necks, and ankles at concerts, fairs, amusement parks, and dances (and no, breaking open a glow stick and pouring it on your skin will not cause cancer). They actually contain no neon however, as they have no electrical charges. Neon lighting began to die out commercially in the 1980's as electronic lighting was considered less obtrusive.

Budweiser Neon Bar Signs

What better way to celebrate Budweisers's iconic brand of great lager than through commercial advertisements via neon bar signs? Budweiser bar signs are among my favorite. I've never seen any too over the top and plenty that are especially classy. As far as I've seen Bud just doesn't lend their brand to anything too cheesy. The company can't afford to have their solid reputation tarnished and they're marketing experts and lawyers won't allow it. Among the classier Budweiser bar signs I've seen are the classic bow tie designs and the signs where the word "Budweiser" is in cursive printing on the neon tube. I especially like when they incorporate NFL, MLB, NBA, and other sports into their signage and they unselfishly center the sign's focus on the sports brand, writing their logo underneath in smaller neon print.

The sports themes and athletic teams are not boring either. A skiier flying down the slopes, a sailing ship, sports teams' championships, Dale Jr racing, NBA game time of a basketball player shooting, quarterbacks throwing a pass, baseball players taking a swing, L.A. Lakers logo, Pittsburgh Steelers, 49ers, that awesome NJ Devils logo (which looks killer on a neon sign), you name it. Virtually any team or sport has a great glowing sign in bars across the world with the Budweiser logo underneath it, which is great marketing in local bars and pubs. I'm not even sure it's legal to own a bar in Boston without affixing some kind of Red Sox signage on the walls or ceilings.

Another great thing I love about Budweiser, Bud, and Bud Light neon signs are that they even make signs for states. How great is it for a Texan oilman to walk into a bar after work and see one of America's greatest brands printed underneath a glowing single star Texas flag? I get a kick out of the Nebraska running pheasant state neon bar sign and while I'm not a huge fan of San Fransisco as a city since they don't appreciate the Marines and armed forces as much as they should, it's undeniable that their city has many beautiful attractions and their neon signs reflect it, the Golden Gate Bridge Budweiser sign an example (hey Bud, how about an "Alcatraz" neon bar sign? that would be cool!) I've seen a Washington state Budweiser neon sign that had a simple nature theme and I like that. I also saw a great Florida Gators sign where the croc is hiding among some weeds though I guess that's technically sports. I've seen deer and Alaskan polar bears and I've also seen a National Park on a Bud neon bar sign! It just goes to show that Budweiser is not just trying to be a plain old drink brand. They're becoming a part of your life by integrating things that you love with them. I'm not a marketing expert but it's ingenius in my opinion. If a cowgirl's not that into sports but she see's a Budweiser Cowboy neon sign, in my mind she'll be more receptive to ordering a Bud next time.

Bud also has just great commercial and random neon bar signs. Some are just of animals or cars and many are just very simple, like a single bottle. I love the lizard and frog ones, harkening back to that infamous bud weis eeeer commercial. I just ran into a "Pioneers in black history" sign as well. Some signs are just plain hat cowboy themes. Some are lifeguard themes, palm trees, bikinis, you name it really. All right, I've gone on long enough about Budweiser neon bar signs. Until next time.

How Neon Bar Signs are Made

Here's a brief description of how neon bar signs and all neon signs are made. Lead glass tubes, made of lower temperature lead-dense heavy glass, are heated with special torches and shaped to the design of the bar sign. Leak-proof lead glass electrodes are welded on either end of the tube with a metal shell for the wiring to attach to the neon sign. I'm sure you've all noticed that the ends of a neon bar sign continue to the wiring but the light itself stops short. The tube is then attached to a manifold and vacuumed of air. A high current is also forced through the tube to "prepare" the glass so to speak and so the vacuum further removes dirt and impurities. The result is a clean interior tube that is coated against unwanted contaminants. The neon tube then cools and typically neon or argon gases are filled into the tube until it reaches a certain pressure. When argon is used, a tiny amount of mercury is also placed inside the neon side. The amount of neon depends on the size and dimensions of the tube. Different combinations of helium and argon are also used for colder weather neon signs.

When lit, neon gives off a orange-red or red light. When argon is lit it gives off a dim lavender color. But when the droplet of mercury fills the tube with vapor, ultraviolet light is given off upon electrification. While being bent, ultraviolet sensitive phosphors are placed in the interior of the tubes, giving off different bright neon colors when lit. Animated neon lights are sequentially programmed to turn certain parts of the unit on and off as certain times. Larger neon signs such as the kind used in bars and pubs have a specially constructed high voltage transformer, limiting the available current running through the sign and keeping it from being destroyed. Once built the neon bar signs are tested for operation and safety and made sure they can withstand the high voltage. They are then packed and shipped to wholesalers and suppliers. And that is a very brief and simplistic description of how neon bar signs are made. Please don't try this at home. Ha ha.

Why Lighted Bar Signs are Used

It seems to most fairly obvious why lighted bars signs are used. They give off brilliant ultraviolet light and dazzle the eyes with their bright glow. Their initial purpose, as with all traditional signs, is to attract new customers from the street who have never been to the establishment before. I have heard of businesses increasing their revenue by as much as 30% a month with an outside neon sign. It's so easy to overlook how many people are actually drawn in by a sign. Think about it. How many buildings are there in your community that you've driven by countless times and still don't know what in the world they are? How many hundreds or thousands of dollars do you think they spend with other traditional advertising methods? A lot! Sadly, some of these businesses never even thought to get themselves a sign at all. Remember, neon signs don't even have to be installed outside. They can be placed in windows facing road traffic. It is up to the bar's owner and employees to impress their customers once they're drawn in, though additional interior neon signs, lighted mirrors and lighted clocks are also frequently used to further impress. The lighted clocks, sports plates, and mirror bar signs easily stand out to the eyes of the patrons. Some bar owners take it as personal pride to prove to their customers how great their taste in decor is by stacking dozens of them on the walls and ceilings. Some think it's a bit much, though secretly I love them all. Personally, while I think a bar can often have the wrong kinds of signs (confusing messages, ie a neon ballerina in a sports bar or overly-distracting marquees), I don't think there can ever really be too many.

Lighted signs in pubs and bars take full advantage of one of the cardinal rules of marketing, to get your message out to as many people as possible as clearly and directly as you can. For this reason, custom neon bar signs are perfect. Business establishments spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to have their brand or message personalized on these digital "miniature billboards". Imagine how many times a simple "Hot Coffee" lighted sign draws wet and dreary street walkers in from the rain. How many tropical beer signs with coconuts and palm trees have subconsciously put people in the mood for a margarita or that particular beer? Many managers and owners think lighted signs are just pretty but the smart owners see every bulb, every glass tube, every electrode, as an opportunity to both soothe their customer to their surroundings, and direct them to a call of action, even if it's just "This is the best sports bar" or "Relax, and have another drink". When purchasing a neon sign, each owner should ask themselves, what am I trying to say, what do I want my customers to do, how do I want my customers to feel?

I also especially love mirror bar signs. Large ones looks great behind a bar, and gives a nice classy look to the establishment, not to mention opening up the interior of the bar, especially usefull for smaller bars with that cramped look. Mirror bar signs that hang on the wall are clever as well, as it's every branders dream to have their customer looking into a mirror and identifying themselves with their logo. Oh, while we're talking about using them as a business investment, consider maximizing the leverage of your investment by purchasing used neon bar signs. New signs are great but they will be more expensive and can be more limited in purpose if your bar theme is not the typical one.

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Welcome to Neon Bar Signs

When sitting in bars, I'm always checking out the atmosphere. Who doesn't? Aside from partying or flirting with the other patrons of course, there's really not much else to do than to check out the decor. Sitting in slower pubs or bars that are getting ready to close, I become mesmorized by the collectibles, the sports figurines, the photos hanging on the wall, the LED lights, and of course, the neon signs.

I started Neon Bar Signs just to post about some of the really cool signage I come across in bars, in shops, or online. Sure it seems a bit geeky to blog about random bar stuff, neon signs in particular, but how many times has a simple neon sign drawn your attention from the road and pulled you in during bar runs? A few times for me. I guess I should state now I'm not an alcoholic (really), but I have been known to frequent the local watering hole every now and again. So what will you see here at Neon Bar Signs? Well, I hope I don't have to paint too clear picture on this one ha ha, but here it goes. I'll put up location themed neon signs, local themed, vacation themed, beer brand neon signs (there's a ton of those), sports LEDs and signs, clocks, business establishment signage, or just plain any interesting or rare neon signs. I'll also post up some information on the manufactors of the signs and the dates of them as well. I'll post up where you can buy neon signs, what to look for when collecting them, I'll give a brief description of the workings of the signs themselves, where the signs are popular, and why neon signs are so great a marketing tool. Also, please free to share some of the cool neon bar signs you've come across as well in the comment sections. Well, that's all for now. Later.