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.

1 comment:

ewingliu said...

Question: Are there standard lumens/ft or mcd/ft that are required of neon signs? What are brightness requirements?