As temperatures plunge, we dig out our space heaters, woolies, and mittens, and make dashes from car to door without much more in mind than the ice underfoot and the next place to enjoy heat. But there are a few considerations for your business signage and lighting that accompany the cold, and you may just be missing them in that mad dash for the door!
DIM OR PINK-ISH NEON
Neon signs can be affected by cold, but it’s not the neon’s fault. Argon is lazy! “Neon” signs get their spectrum of colors from the combination of lavender-blue argon, red-orange neon, and white mercury vapor, pumped in different ratios into colored or clear glass tubes. Neon gas is weather hardy, but argon gas is cold sensitive. Argon’s name is derived from the Greek word for “lazy” or “inactive”. Even under the best of circumstances it requires a bit of mercury vapor to glow brightly. Argon’s atoms get sluggish under 45˚F and its light becomes weak; the mercury vapor condenses back into tiny droplets and its UV light is no longer emitted. In a cold “white neon” tube, the mercury quits and the weak lavender argon barely lights by itself, assisted only by a tiny bit of red neon mixed in for stability… hence the pink. Most neon signs will dim if it gets cold enough, but white neon is especially vulnerable. When ALL the tubes in your sign are dim or pink (often brighter near the electrodes where the gas is most active, as shown in the pic above) rest assured they will likely go back to normal as the temperature warms. But cold weather can push a single tube that is near failure right over the edge. If only one or two tubes are dim, or if the weather warms but brightness does not return, then you should call for repair. There may be a leak, or the gas inside has been exhausted and needs to be re-pumped.
DIM SIGN CABINET
Many sign cabinets are lit with fluorescent lamps. These also contain mercury vapor and they encounter the same condensation issues as stated above around freezing temperatures. If your fluorescent-lit sign looks dim during the winter you might consider retrofitting it for LED illumination. LED lights won’t dim when it’s cold outside, plus they save energy and require less service.
Winter brings us shorter days, so your lot lights and signs are running more during business hours. Customers won’t actually think much about a fully lit parking lot, but if there are multiple outages, or if only part of your business sign is lighting it can send a really negative message about the quality or viability of your business. To ensure the safety of your clientele, make sure your lot doesn’t have any dark pockets for lurkers and ne’er-do-wells to hide. To ensure the safety of your business reputation, make sure that 100% of your signs and lot lights are burning brightly and saying “we are open for business and ready to serve you”! Also, check your time clock for any needed adjustments due to shorter daylight hours.
MISSING MARQUEE LETTERS
When winter winds get to roaring, sometimes they can blow changeable copy letters away too… and make new words. One or two missing letters from your marquee message can cause anything from amusing to tragic new phrases. No one wants to get out there with a box of letters and a 12’ suction cup pole in January, but do make sure that the message you intended to share with the world is still the same message that thousands of cars are passing by each day. And remember, the investment in an electronic message center would end those frigid trips to the copy board altogether. While there are far better reasons to invest in an EMC, it bears mention!
VINYL & PAINT
Remember that vinyl and paint should not be applied if the air or surface temperature is below 45˚F. They simply won’t adhere properly; bubbling and peeling will begin within months, if not days. If you need to have a sign pole or cabinet repainted, or outdoor window, door, or sign vinyl replaced, you can begin the planning stages during the winter or early spring and arrange to have the project started as soon as the weather allows.
With these Cold Weather Signage Considerations in mind, take a quick moment to bundle up and survey your lighting and signage situation to see if a service call to your preferred sign company is in order!
By: Jennifer Bender
National Accounts Representative
DāNite Sign Company