The Cost Difference Between Neon & Fluorescent Lights

Neon lights are not the only option available for advertising signs.
Neon lights are not the only option available for advertising signs. (Image: neon sign image by Karin Lau from

Neon and fluorescent lights are two options available for advertising signs. Should a choice between the two come down to cost, the price of purchase, operating cost and cost of replacement should all be taken into consideration.

Purchase Price

As of December 2010, neon signs cost about $200 at a minimum and can get much more expensive, depending on the complexity of their design. Fluorescent light signage have two separate components to their construction. The sign itself will cost between $100 and $200, while the fluorescent bulb used to illuminate the sign will cost around $10.

Operating Cost

Neon signs are energy-efficient to operate. A sign run 24 hours per day will use about 96 watts of energy and cost about $0.20 per day to operate as of December 2010. A fluorescent lighting display's cost will vary based on how many bulbs are used and the wattage of the bulbs. A 40-watt fluorescent bulb over a 24-hour time period will cost about $0.12 to operate.

Replacement Cost

Neon signs last a very long time; the transformers that power them, however, do not. A neon sign transformer is designed to last five to seven years, with some lasting 10 to 15 years. As of December 2010, a replacement transformer will cost about $55 plus maintenance costs. A fluorescent sign fixture will also last a very long time, with the replacement cost coming from the bulbs used to light the signs. A fluorescent bulb lasts longest when it is run continuously. It will last up to 20,000 hours, or just over two years.

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