What is a Channel Letter?

A channel letter sign consists of internally illuminated, individually fabricated, letters or shapes that are either mounted on a channel or into the wall. The sides, called returns, are made from aluminum coil that is formed into a shape to represent the letter. Traditionally the back is a contour cut aluminum or aluminum composite material to which the sides are fastened. The face of a channel letter is a contour cut translucent acrylic panel which is either a colored acrylic or faced with a colored or printed translucent vinyl material.  A plastic trim cap is applied to the face with an adhesive and is used to fasten the face to the letter. Channel Letters are generally illuminated with low voltage light-emitting diode (LED) modules. A clear or colored acrylic covering is used to protect LED modules. The neon or LED modules light the letters themselves. For the best effect, LED modules are white or matched with their closest color to the face. You can choose from just about any color combination and configuration for the face color. Pantone colors can also be matched for all elements of the sign except the trim cap. For more on channel letters and how they are built check out this video.

Front Lit Channel Letter Set Mounted on a Channel.
What Options are Available for Channel Letter Signs?

Front-Lit Channel Letters: The first and most common type of channel letter is the front-lit or standard channel letter. A front-lit channel letter will have a translucent acrylic face that can be produced with a wide variety of colors or printed graphics.

Halo-Lit Channel Letters: For a unique and classy look, reverse or halo-lit channel letters are a great choice. These letters are typically mounted with a 1.5” standoff and have a clear or translucent backplate so that the light can reflect out of the back of the letter creating a “halo effect” that glows around the shape of each individual character.

Halo Lit Individually Mounted Channel Letters.

Combination-Lit or Front/Back Lit Channel Letters: For a special effect and unique look, you can create a sign that has one color illuminated faces, and a different color halo effect. Like the reverse channel letter, combination-lit channel letters use clear or white translucent acrylic backs that have been customized using translucent vinyl graphics to create the desired halo color.

Channel letter signs an eye-catching and professional appearing sign which is why many business owners choose them. You can see channel letter signs used by national brands and chains, because they’re an effective component of a brand awareness program. For this reason, channel letter signage is a common choice for grocery stores, restaurants, and retailers seeking to enhance brand recognition.

Front-Lit Channel Letters Mounted on a Raceway.

The quality of your sign should match the quality of your business to give potential customers the right first impression. In fact, your sign IS the image of your business, at the very least it is the first impression that gets potential customers to come in the door.

Every channel letter sign we sell is considered a custom sign due to a large number of variables in the makeup of the sign, from letter height, stroke thickness, font, return depth, return thickness, return color, back thickness, type of mounting, face color, trim cap color, trim cap thickness, and so on. Our process is to quote each approved design on its own, based on the options chosen.

When you are considering a sign for your business, consider the following:
  1. Upfront research: Before spending any time considering the various types of storefront or business sign options, check what is allowed, either in your lease, in a local zoning classification such as an area labeled as a historical zone, or in the local sign ordinance.
  2. Think long term: Purchase the best sign you can afford. Signs aren’t like print media or direct mail. With a sign, you have a higher up-front cost, but a relatively low cost once the sign has been installed (electrical and maintenance). A $3,500 channel letter sign costs less than $10 per day in advertising. Divide the cost of your sign by the number of days in your lease.
  3. Don’t cut corners: Usually low cost units means low quality components and materials. Cheap LEDs mean your sign won’t be as bright in a year as it is today. Using low-quality trim cap means the trim cap will crack, and the appearance of the face of your sign will deteriorate. Using low quality acrylic that isn’t Colorfast means the red, blue, green, yellow, purple, or orange face of your channel letter sign will fade sooner than it should. Make sure your sign is UL approved.
  4. Pay attention to the details: Don’t just compare prices. Compare the thickness of the acrylic used for the face, and the thickness of the metal used for the returns. What’s the warranty on the power supply, and what is the hour life of the LED? Remember, it’s less expensive to maintain a quality, well-made sign!

When you are ready to move on your channel letter sign, give the experts a call at Paramount Signs for a free consultation.

Remember, “getting you noticed is Paramount.”

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