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Channel Letter Signage Guide: Illuminating and Mounting

January 2021

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From mounting: raceway, stud mount, backer mount. To illuminating: halo-lit, backlit, front-lit, combination front/back illuminated.
Learn what color looks best and what color to watch out for. It's all here.

👉🏻Pro Tip: be smart with your time and check your local sign code before you do anything!

  • Are there any mount­ing restrictions?
  • Are there any depth recommendations?
  • Is there any spec­i­fi­ca­tions when it comes to illumination?
  • What are the size restric­tions for the build­ing you are signing?

Illu­mi­na­tion Options for Channel Letter Signage: Halo, face, or combination illumination.

🔵 First things first, when using blue to illu­mi­nate your let­ters.🔵

CAUTION: Blue is the clos­est in col­or to a dark night sky. Sol­id blue let­ters DO NOT illu­mi­nate the best at night. If you must use blue, you can choose to use per­fo­rat­ed vinyl to show blue dur­ing the day and illu­mi­nate white at night. Anoth­er option is to use a key­line around the perime­ter of the faces with a min­i­mum of ¼”.

Front Illu­mi­nat­ed Chan­nel Letters

These can use a polycarbonate or acrylic face depen­dent upon the size of the let­ter. There are many choic­es out there for vinyl over­lays, most only allow for <1% light trans­mis­sion so col­or selec­tion is a vital com­po­nent. If the stan­dard array of col­ors that are offered do not match what you are after, you can also print a spe­cif­ic color.

Dual film is also very pop­u­lar and has a war­ran­ty that fits the qual­i­ty of the prod­uct. Using a dual film you are able to achieve the col­or you want dur­ing the day and white illu­mi­na­tion at night which is opti­mal for visibility.

Hawley.DayNight.ChannelLetters.169.jpg

Back Illuminated Chan­nel Let­ters or "Halo" Illuminated

This method gives more of an archi­tec­tur­al or designed look. This type of illu­mi­na­tion is best for direct mount­ed appli­ca­tions. Back­light­ing is a great way to illu­mi­nate unique shapes and let­ters. Keep in mind, some sub­strates such as brick do not dis­trib­ute the light as well and a fab­ri­cat­ed backer or over­sized cut alu­minum let­ters may need to be used. As well, a shiny sur­face may enhance the light­ing so much that you may be able to see some of the LEDs reflect­ed upon the wall.

BackLitLetters.Night.HotelGrinnell.BoutiqueHotel.1100.jpg

Com­bi­na­tion — Front and Back Illu­mi­na­tion for the Win!

This is a unique way to make your logo pop, espe­cial­ly if you’re dead set on a col­or (oth­er than white) for your let­ter illumination.

While you will use more LED, obviously, the cost of the solution can be a little bit higher. But well worth the investment in your brand for the unique and effective look.

🔵 If you want to use blue, this is what you need to do!

GrahamSurgery.FrontBackLit1.900.jpg

Mounting Options for Channel Letter Signage: Raceway, direct, or backer?

Race­way Mounting

Using a race­way reduces the number of pen­e­tra­tions into the façade of a build­ing which is ide­al for a more com­mer­cial envi­ron­ment (high­er turnover of ten­ants, etc). The let­ters are attached to the race­way that hous­es all of the elec­tri­cal wiring, pow­er sup­plies, etc. The race­way is then attached to the build­ing. Typ­i­cal­ly you want to paint the race­way the same col­or as the build­ing so that it blends in as much as pos­si­ble and the let­ters stand out suf­fi­cient­ly. Here’s a video of a set of front-lit chan­nel let­ters on a race­way being installed.

Direct or Stud Mounting

This method lean towards a more clean or archi­tec­tur­al appear­ance. Here, the let­ters each have mul­ti­ple non-cor­ro­sive fas­ten­ers (or studs) that are attached direct­ly into the face of the build­ing. All elec­tri­cal is run inside the build­ing or on the back of the wall the let­ters attached to, so acces­si­bil­i­ty to this space is imperative.

Backer mount­ed letters

This also is a more archi­tec­tur­al look and is when chan­nel let­ters are attached to an over­size backer, mon­u­ment or cab­i­net sign. Elec­tri­cal and pow­er sup­plies are eas­i­ly hid­den in the over­sized backer.

Light Source:

There are many dif­fer­ent options avail­able in today’s mar­ket. LEDs are by far the most pop­u­lar and range in price and quality.
Our production team only uses qual­i­ty LEDs like the ones from Prin­ci­pal LED, but any spec­i­fied LED, (brand), col­or tem­per­a­ture, or RGB sys­tem can be uti­lized to match your project needs.

Quickest Way to Make it Easy on Yourself:

Find an Expert to help you through the process from location to size, to local sign code. Make it easy on yourself and reach out today.

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