Personalized neon signs are a fantastic way to add some pizzazz to your home, business, or party. Making your own LED neon sign is the perfect solution for many situations. Whether you are a business owner looking for signage, a do-it-yourselfer who wants to add some light outside their home, or an artist who needs a high visibility presentation, the process is simple and will make your final product truly unique.
You can start by checking out Neon Mama for inspiration. Remember that these signs can be customized to your needs, so don’t hesitate to experiment with what works best for you. LEDs are a lot more energy efficient than regular bulbs are. They also have the added bonus of being at least four times brighter than any other type of bulb. However, these LED signs can actually be made into neon-lighted displays as well with just a little bit of work and some creativity.
Preparing Your Design
The first step to making your neon sign is to come up with the design. This can be done either on paper or digitally on a computer. Since you will be cutting the logo out of plywood, it is important that it meets some basic requirements. The design must be able to fit onto a piece of 4″ x 8″ plywood, and the letters need to be clearly legible.
You can use acrylic paint, markers, or any other method you choose to create your design. Once the design has been finalized, it is time to cut it out of plywood. You can use either a scroll saw or a jigsaw for this step. After cutting out your design, sand the edges so that the plywood has a smooth surface.
You will also want to cut out a template, which is basically a shape that overlaps the letters to give you the finished look of the neon sign. The exact size of your template is up to you, although it should be slightly larger than your logo. You may need two templates if you have two logos.
When purchasing an LED fixture for your neon sign, you should consider the size and number of diodes. The light output of each diode varies. For example, the 3mm diode has a light output ranging from 800-1,100 mcd/m2 (millicandela per square meter). When comparing diode outputs, the higher the mcd/m2 rating, the brighter your sign will be.
You will also see that each diode number corresponds to a wattage. The 3mm diode uses about 120 watts of power, while the 10mm diode uses about 300 watts of power. The higher the wattage, the more heat is generated by the fixture. The heat can cause the plywood to warp and damage your design.
As an alternative, you can also use an LED panel. These panels are dimmable, lightweight, and silent. They are also energy efficient and available in a variety of shapes.
Power Supply Options
The next step is to determine the best power supply option for your sign. You will want to select a transformer that has the correct voltage and amperage rating for your LEDs. A typical 12 volt transformer will use about 12 volts x .125 amps = 1.5 watts. The power supply should support all of your LED lights at once, so if you have multiple diode lights, you will need a more powerful power supply.
If you are using a 120-volt transformer, it will use about 120 volts x .125 amps = 1.8 watts. However, you can still use a 12-volt transformer in this situation. You will just need to connect the transformer to a voltage step-down device, which will take the 120 volts and convert it to 12 volts.
For example, you can use a 12-volt battery and a regulator along with some wire. This will allow you to use a 12-volt transformer. If you are using multiple diode lights, make sure your power supply is properly wired to no voltage drop across the wires.
Next, you need to consider the number of watts of power you want for your sign. For a neon sign, the maximum power rating should be from 600-800 watts of power.
Neon Sign Kit
Have everything you need to finish your project? Then you can purchase a complete neon sign kit. The kit includes all the components needed to construct your sign, such as a cut list, LED placard, and instructions.