What is a ”Channel Letter”? It is a metal box, normally shaped like a letter where a light source, normally LEDs, produced light that is channeled out and makes a lighted shape. It is most visible in the dark and is a sign type used for many businesses.
There are two general types of channel letters: Standard and reverse channel letters.
Standard channel letters are 70-80% of the letters installed. These light the front. There is a variation sometimes seen where the face or translucent cover is missing or clear. These are called “Open Face Channel Letters”, These expose the neon tubes and are a specific style most often seen in the early days of the technology. Old style movie theaters and restaurants occasionally still have these.
Reverse Channel Letters project light to the back. These are also called “Halo Letters” or a “halo effect” letter or back lite letters. The face is solid and the back has a Lexan lenses. These are typically 2 inches or less off the surface of the building. The advantage of these is the daylight look is all about the letter itself, and the night time look is about the outline of that letter. These are more expensive and harder to mount. The wall surface is also more important. These are generally found on more prestige businesses and buildings.
What is the best size for my Channel Letters? Typically the larger the letters the more attention it will get. At the same time the space available limits the size. The building owner often has a sign policy or a blanket set of rules about size, color and placement.
What font should I use? Most channel letters are Helvetica, Times Roman, Avant Garde, or Futura. Fonts with narrow stokes, pointed tips and ends are generally not used
Raceway – A Raceway is a long box, that can be mounted at the bottom, the middle or the top on the letters. It is normally at least 3.5 inches deep. Raceways are normally the same color as the wall behind them. Inside the raceway are the holes (Penetrations) to mount the channel letters, all the wiring “racing” down the pathway to a transformer. The thickness (3.5 inches) is driven in part by the width of the transformer. Building owners strongly favor raceways because it minimized the number of holes in the building.
Flush mount – Flush mount is the direct mounting to the building wall. In this case the wall may or may not be perfectly straight and flat. Each letter will require a series of holes. The placement must be perfect. To do this a pattern is created. The patters is normally paper, and has all the holes marked out.
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