LED / Electric

Signage Lighting Types

Author: Cynthia Nutwell

One of the best ways to improve your signage is lighting. Simple lighting fixes can keep your business signage glowing 24 hours a day. Illuminate your outdoor signage with options like light boxes, dramatic LED signs or mounted lighting fixtures to improve readability at night. Or spruce up indoor lighting in dark interiors with diverse lighting options. With the right fixtures, your signage can advertise for you day and night. Below we discuss factors to consider before choosing the right lighting option for your signage.

“An illuminated sign, if well-lit, will be your business’s most effective calling card,” said Jill Bonilla, a FASTSIGNS owner and former Marketing Manager of SloanLED.

Meier's Tavern has a lit up sign


The type of lighting you choose for your signage should reflect where the sign is located. A sign in a poorly lit room will require different lighting techniques than an outdoor sign. You want to choose an illumination option that’s in accordance with your business’s neighborhood or the interior of your establishment. For instance, you wouldn’t install a massive neon tube sign in a commercial area of corporate offices, nor would you use elegant box-lighting to illuminate a sign for your pool hall. Consider how the sign will look at night and how well it coordinates with similar signs in the area. Also check with your city’s codes on sign lighting brightness and safety before proceeding with any outdoor lighting efforts.

Lighting Options

Depending on whether you want to illuminate an existing sign or create one from the ground up with the help of an electrician, there are a few options for signage lighting. The most common lighted signs are full-color LED graphics and picture displays. But whether you’re adding or creating, there will be dangerous electrical wiring work involved, so it’s best to consult a licensed electrician for your signage lighting needs. Here are some of the most common signage lighting options.

A mall directory features a backlit display

Backlit Displays         

Backlit displays make advertising readable in most settings and lightings. They are an easy way to creatively display things like your business’s logo or message. Backlit displays are great for directories at malls or hospitals.

“We’ve seen a spike in backlit LED displays at trade shows, making for much more noticeable exhibitions than before,” Bonilla said.

LED Signs

LED Signs can be easily seen at night and give your business the ability to adjust messaging on the fly because you can change them as needed. LED signs are also energy-efficient, which is beneficial to businesses operating after dark. But make sure an LED sign is in keeping with your brand’s feel and message. Check out this article by Jill Bonilla for more information on LED signage.

“Most signage lighting we see today is moving to LED. We’re in an LED revolution right now. LED signage is energy-efficient, dimmable and works great in cold weather,” Bonilla said.

Miss Mendon's Diner features Neon lit up signs

Neon Signs

Neon illuminated signs give a timeless and traditional feel to your signage. Think of the neon sign on a warm diner illuminated at the end of a dark road on a cold night. It’s inviting and comforting. Neon signs are also cost-effective and come in a wide spectrum of colors.

Light Box Signs

Businesses can use light boxes to create vibrant, eye-catching displays. These are most effective when presenting dramatic visuals and important information. They are great in retail settings, airports and hospitals as they allow your business to integrate words and images into exciting and informational backlit arrangements.

A Coast Salish sign is designed in the Coca Cola font and style

Cabinet Signs

Lighted cabinet signs allow locations to spotlight their brand both day and night. They are used primarily for signs at institutions like churches, schools and businesses as a way to communicate information and identification.

Indoor Lighting Fixtures

By adding simple lighting fixtures to signs already in place, you can easily bring your brand out of the dark. Adding warm sign lighting to the interior signage of a local café will create a comforting atmosphere. Installing LED spotlights on your menu board could attract passing foot traffic because the menu jumps out at pedestrians.  

“Indoor LED lighting is dimmable and can use sensors that will actually brighten the display as people walk past. It’s really a subliminal sell because people will look at your signage, but aren’t really sure why—and it’s because it suddenly brightened,” said Bonilla.


Once you’ve decided which sign lights to implement, consult with a professional to pick the materials you want to use (view our full gallery of signage materials). If your sign is outdoors, it will need a lighting system to withstand different elements, depending on where you live. When choosing lighting for indoor signage, your business might consider aesthetics more than durability. According to Bonilla:

“With signage lighting, it’s important to go to a reputable brand for your lighting needs. As a FASTSIGNS owner, we’re not about using cheap materials. We want to use the best and showcase the best signage possible.”

Regardless of what type of lighting you intend to add to your signage, it’s important to consult with a professional to avoid any potential accidents. Not to mention, most states have certain requirements and laws for any electrical installation. Get on the track to brighter advertising with lighting for your signage!

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