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MOONSHINE BEACH Located right in central Pacific Beach, a community in San Diego Moonshine Flats opened up a sister location similar to the East Village location. Bar, club...food, and of course live country music bands perform. Similarly to Moonshine Flats, Moonshine Beach transformed The Typhoon Saloon and Fred's Mexican Food. Originally this building was a bowling alley, guess not many knew Pacific Beach had a bowling alley. The change of theme by ownership brought the first Country Music venue to Pacific Beach One difference Moonshine Beach will have that Moonshine Flats didn't, is adding in four decorative huge 8 Cold Cathode (Neon) Stars for decorative lighting. One important aspect we did for these lighting star structures was paint them a textured flat Matthews PPG Paint finish so the Lamps will not reflect off of them, that way the light sinks right into the background and the Cold Cathode Lamps stay defined and not fuzz in the evening sky Loading up and getting ready to install Originally the stars were going to be Red, White, and Blue but it was thought that it might be too loud and take away from the Moonshine Beach sign. The desire was something more subtle, so to match the sign it's self the deco Neon lamps were 18mm 4500 Tri-Phoshor Lamps And time for a selfie Prepping the new Moonshine Beach sign for install. Both sign configurations and theme are one of the same, just from Flats to Beach. INSTALL DAY Selfie 2 ....and done! Just as stated in our article on Moonshine Flats Now Pacific Beach has a new bright city night scape to light up the sky. West Coast Sign Company, San Diego CA, 92131 (858) 689-0080 • email@example.com
MOONSHINE FLATS Located in East Village Downtown San Diego that borders the Gas Lamp District. This is a project and revamp where the bar/club owners decided to change the theme of their existing venue. One of my favorite little Neon Signs was going to be removed to make way for the much larger sign for this new Country Theme Bar & Club with live music....Moonshine Flats. After obtaining approvals from CCDC, Historic, and sign permits from the City of San Diego we began production. This was going to be an "old school" sign, so that meant old school production and look with state of the art Neon components. That meant the sign structure would be American Steel. Not your normal steel but "Jet Plated" metal which is basically galvanized like plate/finish for durability. As you can tell from the image, these letters are NOT easy to cut, bend and weld. The smaller the letter the more your fingers will hate you. Some times the "old school" components are one of the best. These are porcelain housings. Most custom sign shops who still produce electric Neon signs shy away from porcelain because their natural finish which is visible from the exterior is white and most will choose to use glass which will blend with the background. We like white even though it may stick out like a sore thumb, I think it gives the Neon sign character. The problem with glass is, it's thin walled and won't stand up to high temperatures that porcelain can endure if needed. After a fresh paint job of PPG or better known in the sign industry as Matthews is one of the best commercial paint finishes that is equal to an automotive finish. With the face background it's best to ass the same color in Neon Glass. Enter "Ruby Red", a premium Neon Glass tubing that can be pumped with Neon gas ( no mercury) or Mercury pumped. After a side by side comparison our client decided to go with Mercury Pumped. The day before Installation it's a good idea to get all the holes drilled right and ready for that big day. Sometimes you even need the little helpers Install day, the part we can get up without the heavier equipment West Coast Sign Company, San Diego CA, 92131 (858) 689-0080 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's one of our favorite jobs that we produced and installed locally here in San Diego. RAY'S TENNIS located in Hill Crest close to downtown San Diego. So let's start from the beginning.... This project starts with an old building that's about to get renovated. This landmark Tennis Store has been around the neighborhood since the 60's and Ray's Tennis is a very known location if you play tennis in San Diego. For a high light output green to match their colors we went with a very small millimeter diameter lamp glass made by Voltarc, 12mm Green. The smaller the diameter Neon glass, the brighter the light output. Our choice of high voltage secondary wire conductors is always the best....Silicone! Silicone is the best quality for neon signs and it won't degrade as fast as conventional wiring One of the cool added parts of this jobs is the Stainless Steel overhang face they added for the renovation. Love the look, and we had a part to play to make sure it would make the single stroke of Voltarc's NeoBlue (Purple) pumped red would be applicable for installation. Doing a single stroke Neon border in this case Purple can sometimes be a challenge when it comes to installation but I made sure that the 56 liner feet would not be an issue. I wanted everything balanced for this project by NOT doing a conventional wiring installation for out long single lamp purple Neon. To do that the Neon transformer must be balanced, and that comes with installing the transformer in "Mid-Point Ground" Something not many companies do, and one of the reasons why Neon can be problematic and cause multiple maintenance problems over time. Most Neon issues happen at the hands of installation By doing a Mid-Point Return I turned this 15kv tranny into two separate 7,500kv's. Most importantly, I didn't run 20' of GTO (wiring) from Transformer Terminal to the outer most electrodes like you see in so many cases (Conventional Series Wiring) which result in numerous maintenance calls down the road. Doing a Mid-Point ground I started at the center of my Neon Load making my runs only 18" from the Transformer secondary Terminals to the first set of electrodes that will work their way out bringing the outermost lamps or connection back to the transformer. If you were to take a High Voltage Probe and measure at the Mid-Point ground terminal you would have about 0 volts. Doing the installation this way assures VERY long life with the secondary conductors as short as possible. CONVENTIONAL WIRING VS MID-POINT RETURN WIRING Here in the Transformer in a ventilated box which will breath much easier then the ones located behind the wall for the Lettering. I have the two short secondary home runs splitting the 56' linear lamp foot load in half, with the return path coming from the outer most lamp connectors of the load. The Service Switch and double nutted ground with the panel ground at the bottom (structural) with the service ground which is the Transformer ground at the top. Before anyone asks, YES this is a shot before the Transformer box is sitting on top of treated studs! There are many Industry components used for our trade, a lot do not get used properly or are never used and again, this can be problematic for Neon Lighting & Signs when not properly used or installed. Here is a good shot of outdoor wet location rated Neon electrode connections so no moisture gets in. Finishing up and closing out this deal And of course the final night shots The Tennis Ball we used a 15mm Tri-Phosphor White by Voltarc as well called "Tri-Lite" Tri-Phosphors are a multi-blend of high quality phosphors that are about 40% brighter than conventional phosphor Neon caoted lamps and will stay whiter longer over time. Reason being, when it comes to Hg (Mercury) filled lamps the mercury will crystallize and eventually eat through the phosphor which is what makes these lamps dim over time. What does this custom sign total cost of operation cost a consumer to run? Total package 784 watts, 8 hours per day @ 365 days a year roughly $.12kwh = $274.71 as an annual cost of operation for wall sign mixed in with some linear border tube lighting, NOT BAD!! Despite the popular mis-informed information about Lighting efficiency on Neon, we can see $274 a year operating for 8 Hours a day is NOT bad for electric advertising! West Coast Sign Company, San Diego CA, 92131 (858) 689-0080 • email@example.com
Electric Signs, LED Channel Letters, & Retrofitting West Coast Sign Company is a U.L. recognized custom electric sign shop and a electrical sign contractor in San Diego, California. West Coast Sign Company specializes in specialty lighting, for our electric signs that we build and manufacture. We build high end custom electrical signs using only custom light sources that are architectural grade. Everything from custom coating Tri-Phosphor & Rare Earth phosphor lamps, to custom LED specialty lighting. Light source components all vary and should be used according to the sign application one is building for their project. Not one light source is best used for all applications, every light source has their pro's and cons. Too many times statements are used such as, "Green" & "Energy Efficient", these are nothing more than "Marketing Statements", statements used to make the public feel "guilty", and in turn manipulating them to choose an alternative route that may/will cost them more in Return On Investment (ROI) than they will ever get back in order for them to "feel good" about themselves to. We can help in dispelling some energy & trade myths so you don't waste an initial investment in money thinking you can make that same money back in a short time in annual energy costs when comparing apples to apples. LED illuminated Reverse Channel Letters. Solare Ristorante Lounge, San Diego CA Please see an article on this job published in Sign Builder Illustrator Magazine LINK High Light Output LED Illuminated address numbers (Test Proven) If there is one think my industry is unfortunately guilty of, it is making their clients believe they can invest HUGE up front and make it back short "Return On Investment" (2 to 3 years) , NOTHING, can be further from the truth. Some may be reading this and I'm sure you are thinking, "This is rare, who is this guy, and I've never heard of such a thing before". That is true, you probably haven't, and that is because it's a very popular thing to throw around marketing statements, especially in tough economic times, but it's what sells. Think back to right before the year 2000, every marketing statement was "Y2K complaint". Buying "Energy Efficient", is just the nuance, it's the next "sexy" term. The TRUTH is, as discussed above, Neon, Fluorescent & LED's are ALL energy efficient products, and they are all SAFE, or as some like to label it, Environmentally Safe. If you run into a sign company and all they offer are marketing statements (by their chosen lighting component manufacturer) followed by "We use XY&Z because it's SAFE, it's Environmentally Friendly", then you are getting the wrong information from someone who because A - The sign company doesn't know what they're talking about. B - They are just very ill-informed themselves, and they are just repeating what they were told by Manufacturers and Suppliers. C - They don't do any kind of testing themselves, or perform energy audits Let's look at some common options used for sign lighting. Fluorescent & Neon lamps do contain mercury, very small amounts and these lamps are a closed loop system which means they are ALSO 100% recyclable, and recycle back into the lighting manufacturers. Both are high voltage and can cause fires WHEN installed with no metal conduit, and this is usually done by unlicensed contractors. Both are very reliable with neon tracing back with a proven history of over 100 years. Neon & Fluorescent lamps are very good and get brighter in warm temperatures, but light output lowers in very cold temperatures, except in red neon because there is no mercury for cold conditions to condense. Lamp life for neon depends on the quality and workmanship of the processing, lamp processing is very important. Knowledge & quality depends and varies from sign company to sign shop. LED's are low voltage, 12 or 24 volts, but the primary wiring from the panel to the power supply for LED's is still 120 volts same as other light sources. A large number of cheap low grade LED's are made in China. China has devastated and flooded a large part of the electric sign industry by low grade cheap LED's. Take a drive at night and you will see letters what have varying dim spots or shadows. Sign companies use these cheap Chinese products and claim "Environmentally Friendly", this is false because China has coal plants, coal plants put mercury in to the air. LED's are very efficient for small light applications, and very helpful in applications where other components are hard to retrofit or install. LED's are also good for very good for cold weather applications where they light the brightest, but poor for warm weather where light output lowers and circuity can fail. Recently installed sign using VERY low grade LED Modules (You get what you pay for!) Retrofitting has hit our marketplace lately. There is a lot of marking talk about retrofitting out existing signs that are illuminated with Fluorescent or neon lamps to LEDs to save energy costs annually and make the initial investment back in a short term ROI. Sometimes, I said "Sometimes" this makes sense. Majority of the time depending on the application it doesn't make sense. Because when you compare apples to apples in light output it can take 20 to 40 years to make the return on investment, and in that time you will have re-retrofit that same sign 4 to 5 times amping your original investment (These are studies and testing that we also conduct). There are a lot of national sign companies with mythical ROI claims of saving 60% to 80% in energy consumption and costs. Be VERY Weary! It doesn't make sense to spend 1.5 Million dollras to re-retrofit a sign that only lasts you 5 years just to save a claimed amount of $18,000.00 a year in energy costs. Out of 1.5 million, that is $300,000.00 per year just to save $18,000.00 in energy costs. Google "CITGO SIGN" Kenmore Square. You had a old neon sign that could have been re-engineered in it's existing light source, it got retrofitted in 2005 with LEDs that didn't last, now in 2010 it's getting Re-retrofitted again with amplified cost. Most of the time it makes more sense to retrofit your existing sign that may be having issues with better, newer components or upgraded lamps. Trade in your old halo-phosphate coated Fluorescent or Neon lamps to Tri-Phosphor coated lamps. These lamps are brighter and last longer with their illumination over time than standard conventional lamps. The basic circuitry is already in place in your sign, it's easier to re-engineer those raceways and installation plans with newer efficient transformers and ballasts. Newer SST transformers and ballasts can reduce your energy consumption over older magnetic transformers and ballasts by 40% to 50%. Installation is key, there are a lot of installers that never knew what they were doing, so if your sign has been having repetitive issues, find someone who knows what they are doing, we can help you with this too. Read up on an article where we are featured in Sign Builder Illustrator Magazine LINK Besides manufacturing electric signs I also run tests for the electric sign industry, testing Neon, LED's and Fluorescent light sources on energy consumption as well as light degradation. Every lighting manufacturers products, I've tested it! I run them 24/7 for 365 days a year continually. I only use what I've tested and to know what will last, I don't take the word of brochures, suppliers or vendors walking into my place of business saying "Our product is the best!" Just remember a rule of logic "You can only get out, with what you put in". West Coast Sign Company, San Diego CA, 92131 (858) 689-0080 • firstname.lastname@example.org