Neon, Fibre Optics and LED – The ‘Big Three’

Over recent years, lighting technology has seen an extraordinary array of advancements. When you think about it, traditional incandescent bulbs and fluorescence were relied upon for generations, before the likes of LEDs and fibre optics came along. But what’s interesting about the current lighting landscape is how one of the most common and important lighting choices – neon – has actually been around in one form or another for more than 100 years.

Which is precisely why even in this day and age, there is still more custom neon lighting illuminating the world and its businesses than any other lighting technology across the board.

In fact, it was only as of around 30 years ago that a newcomer emerged and staked claim to being able to take the torch (no pun intended) from neon. This newcomer being fibre optics – lighting technology which at the time didn’t come close to neon in terms of brightness and brilliance. Hence the fact that for quite some time, fibre optics only tended to be used in instances where neon could not be used for reasons of practicality or safety, or where extreme brightness wasn’t of importance. Still, the technology did begin to gain at least some traction in darker environments (such as nightclubs and bars) for use as decorative lighting.

Over time, fibre optic lighting technology improved to such a point where it could not only replicate the quality and effects of neon, but do so for a much lower price. Offering energy savings of approximately 30% to 40%, those who had previously favoured neon suddenly began taking an interest in fibre. And it wasn’t long before those manufacturing fibre optic lighting products were producing all manner of weird and wonderful creations, capable of doing things neon is fundamentally incapable of.

But when it comes to improving upon the brightness, versatility, flexibility and cost effectiveness of neon, it was the introduction of LEDs that caused the biggest stir. Typically supplied with the most extensive warranties and offering energy savings of 80% or even higher in some instances, it quickly became clear that LEDs were and are the lighting technology of the future. And rather than LED and fibre optic lighting technology entering into some kind of pitched battle with one another, the two have so far managed to coexist quite harmoniously. LED manufacturers focusing on certain products and applications, fibre optic designers setting their sights elsewhere.

So while comparisons will always exist between LED lighting technologyand fibre optic, it makes more sense to consider them two entirely different products with different applications. Depending on where you intend to use the lighting and for what kinds of purposes, it should be relatively easy to decide on which side of the fence you should be looking. The days of neon in the traditional sense may be numbered, but both LEDs and fibre optic lighting technology are guaranteed to play an increasingly important role in the future of commercial, industrial and residential lighting on a global basis.

This article was brought to you courtesy of the team at Fibre Optic FX.