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LED Retrofit Mythology 101

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Here's something for you all to kick around that I found quite humorous>>>>>>>>510 watts for a 1530 ferro magnetic transformer, who are they kidding???

Ventex has fallen from grace, for a company who started out selling neon products why don't they state the truth and sell the idea to shops that sometimes the easiest option when lamps come close to end of life>>>>>>>retrofit with new lamps????

Browse over the the numbers they pull>>>>>>>

Ventex Retrofit.pdf

Edited by Erik Cin

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Hmmmm, last page says "Thank you & Questions??"

The side show is over but I have a comment or two, too bad I wasn't there to raise my hand.

I don't have the time to go over their numbers but this is key result of what's supposed to be a seminar to "Learn" from transmuted to marketing a self absorbed product. I can't say I'm shocked to see this coming form Ventex these days but if this was a couple of years ago John would have been plugging in an option to retrofit a remote tranny installation to SST's. But these days they're so heavily invested in LEDs because they want to follow the sugar high it's all about ripping and tearing out clear red Neon, a light source that does not degrade in light overtime to one that does, theirs.

What does shock me and John knows better .....4.25 amp transformer with 500+ watts what? Ventex use to concentrate hard on Neon products and they even at one time took part in the testing we do here on The Sign Syndicate in our Neon/LED light testing projects on the fact checking SST vs. Magnetic Transformer efficiency numbers. The most I've ever seen on a 15/30 regular outdoor short circuit plate value is 3.75 amps. But who's running a Tranny at FULL load? Where is the power correction value.

Ventex needs to revise their "Selling LED Retrofits" 3.75 amps x 120 v x (.54 power correction NPF) x .12kwh x 15 hrs x 365 = $159 annual cost of operation for 15 hours a day on a tranny that is maxed out on 243 watts. Most shops I know usually run their trannies at 85%??? So 206 watts seems more realistic to me. $135 is probably on the side of reality NOT $335.00 a year for one tranny

Maybe someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

With this new mind set sales pitch being thrown out is Ventex going to continue to sell their Neon electronic transformers??? I ask this because their helping to kill the Neon industry with mis-information, mis-information that Ventex USE to take great pride in and help counter before they sold their Venbrite LEDs. So if I were a customer I would ask myself, are they going to cease selling their Neon SST's and just sell what's left in stock and phase out?

I can't remember the last time I've seen Ventex market their Electronic Transformers.

Obviously the ROI numbers are off base.

Maybe if I have time later I'll try and brake it down to what it SHOULD be.

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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ALRIGHT, I was gritting my teeth and gave into temptation. I read the whole thing and looked at their version.

K, I've seen this before and it gets me. First of all Ventex (John) is trying to get you to justify a retrofit, second he's trying to justify it by dictating to you what you should be charging in labor and margin in materials. And he is expecting you to only make labor, forget shop labor charge, forget charge for two installers, forget possible bucket or crane, and forget overhead and fuel etc.


Let's take the Ventex sign "ANYWHERE"

24" letters translates into (estimating) 24" x 3.5 (for single stroke footage) / 12" = 7' per letter 7' x 3.6 watt @15mm clear red = 25.2 watts per foot x 8 Letters = 201.6 watts, or 56' loading on a 15/30 tranny. So we'll max out our 15/30 tranny which shows a max load of 60' of 15mm leaving us 4' for room ( I prefer 10'). So John has his maxed out tranny as he calls out for. We'll give it the 243 watts I said in the previous post.

"ANYWHERE" Sign on a Neon 15/30 is 3.75amps x 120v x .54 (NPF Power Correction) x 15hrs x 365 days x .12 kwh / 1000 Power Correction = $159.65 annual cost of operation (Neon)

"ANYWHERE" Sign in .5 watt red mods = 56'/.5 watt mods = 28 watts x 1.15 PS efficiency est 32.2 watts

32.2 x 15 hrs x 365 days x .12kwh / 1050 HPF Power Correction = $20.14 annual cost of operation (LED)

Annual Savings cost of operation in using LED over Neon is = $139.51 per year


"ANYWHERE" sign to be gutted of neon AND Tube supports John estimates 10 hrs. John illustrates a retrofit "need".... so that GTO has to be bad and probably arched thru to the flex conduit grounding out, it was probably a VERY BAD install so let's do what a good shop would do and replace the wiring. If you're going to do something good, do it right the first time, no short cuts. pulling the neon, GTO, tube supports (Driling and chiseling), and cleaning for VHB tape 10hrs, adding branch circuits because of A,H,R

We have 3 shop options on labor (Does not include survey time/ permits/ admin time/ approvals etc).

(A) A sign possibly 12' up and one person job 10 hrs x $85 = $850

(B) A sign much higher up and harder access, two person job 10 hrs x $125 = $1,250.00

© A sign much higher up and harder access, two person job w/ bucket or crane 10 hrs x $175-$200 = $2,000.00 (worst case scenario)


A shop charging only $5.00 a foot for LEDs and only charging the customer actual cost is UN-realistic. Most shops double, so 56' x $10 = $560.00

Keep in mind, when it comes to LEDs you have a minimum box purchase of 30' and higher, so if you're 2' to 10' above a box, YOU have to buy a WHOLE box and take a hit on your margin eating 20' or so.

Power Supplies $65.00 sounds like the actual PS cost, so we usually double that too, so $130 to customer

Shops have Fuel, ins, Maintenance costs, Overhead. So for the sake of all that, let's add 30% to be safe. If you're not doing this then you won't be in business for very long, or your working out of your garage (The Ideal Ventex Retrofitter)!

A - Labor $850.00 (Easy)

LEDs (Venbrites) = $560.00

PS = $130.00

Overhead (labor) = $255.00

Total = $1,795.00

B- $1,250 (2 person)

LEDs (Venbrites) = $560.00

PS = $130.00

Overhead (labor) = $375

Total = $2,315

C -$2,000.00 (2 Person & Crane)

LEDs (Venbrites) = $560.00

PS = $130.00

Overhead (labor) = $600

Total = $3,290.00


Retrofit Cost / savings = Years ROI from going Neon to LED

A- $1,795 / $139.51 = 12.8 years ROI

B - $2,315 / $139.51 = $16.6 years ROI

C- = $3,290 / $139.51 = 23.58 years ROI


Let's say this is a god awful installation and sign. The other logical option is to re-retrofit with neon lamps and new wiring and new tranny. We'll re-engineer the runs making them smaller, etc. Pull neon, GTO, and wire. (Worst case scenario)


2 hours w/ driving time and tracing the letters for neon

4 hours for 8 letters re-wire install new Tranny, and rewire GTO

Total Labor 6 hours =

A $510

B $750

C $1,200


Neon units = $56 x 8 units =$448

Tranny = $180

GTO = $60.00

COST = $688

Total option of Neon Re-retrofit Labor & Materials

A - $1,198

B - $1,438

C - $1,888

If all else fails and a rough estimate for a new sign "ANYWHERE" easy access two people 8 Letters 24", $3,840

A realistic return on investment will be anywhere from 12 to 23 years depending on a single person job to 2 people with a crane for your client, $1800 to $3,200 charge to your client to save 211 watts per year VERSUS the up front initial investment.

It just does not make sense to retrofit with light source that does not degrade in light over time (Red Neon) for a light source that does (Red LEDs). Should this job require 1 watt White LEDs, then ROI is pushed even further up the scale.

If I'm wrong, someone please chime in and correct me.

I like LEDs too, and use them when an application calls out for it, BUT....I won't sell something to a client just for the sake of "upselling" or selling something because the supposed "other shop" might beat me to it. Educate the client first, educate them that a "Buzzword" is just that...a Buzzword.


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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Erik, I couldn't agree with you more on this. It's too bad none of the "neon" companies didn't put up a bigger fight against the LED companies. I see way to many LED channel letters now that are so badly fading out, in white and also red LED's, that have only been up for a couple of years, unlike their hype, that these will have to retro fitted in the near future at the customers expense. So much for their savings.

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There's room for both Neon & LED, and both light sources have their advantages and dis-advantages. There are some real good LED products, there are some real good companies who know how to install Neon and a lot of bad when it comes to both. There are also just a lot of "lazy" shops that will ignore the application and use one light source for all no matter where the sign is going

But you're right, I don't know why but I've seen so much failure in red LED channel letters lately all around town. Within one year catastrophic breakdown of modules, it's crazy.

We've been doing the Red Light District test of red Neon & LED modules for channel letters and haven't seen too much failure, and that's probably because we've been using some good manufacturers and non of the cheapo's so far. I was told I would be wasting my time doing a red test because red lasts longer than white LEDs and expect 100,000 hours. Well so far from the testing we know that's not true at all.

There is NO reason why sign shops cannot secure at least a 5 year electrical warranty for their clients which includes labor to change out any components in that time. From the testing we know what LEDs last a very long time....and which do not, we know when you install Neon the right way it lasts forever. But when you install Neon a piss poor way, i.e. improper loading, long secondary runs, primary & secondary intertwined, poor processing the customer pays for it. The shops do their own research, they pick the products THEY should stand behind their decisions. But with all the flyby nights looking for that check and walking away it's giving both light sources a bad name.

But if I was a shop, I would not use RED LEDs unless I really had too, i.e. hard installation, difficulty in shipping etc. Why use a light source that does degrade in light instead of one that does not. The customer is more concerned with expense and what will last him rather than pay more just to save some wattage. Part of the problem sign shops don't have the experienced installers anymore just someone who use to work at Signs Now and who can drill a 1/2" hole and wire nut everything up to 12 volts.

I have to say I've seen some smart sign companies build and ship their channel letters sign in a hybrid fashion, White LEDs for the white or colored portion of the channel letters, and red Neon for the red portion. That's a nice tandem, especially if that sign is going into a frigid region where temps will not affect the light source. If it's going to Vegas I hope it's got built in AC for the LED portion!!!

When it came to "fighting", our associations did nothing to provide a better job of education for our industry, in fact they did nothing....they STILL do nothing. They let LED manufacturers composed of people who have never touched, seen, or measured a neon or fluorescent lamp roll over this industry right over with mis-information and mis-characterization of Neon.

The only seminar "education" classes are the types that are all about the "Buzzwords"..."Retrofit....energy efficient....green" the marketing statements which just execute...but never explain.

The trade magazines did the same, they let LED manufacturers portray this misleading information because the editors give them the keys to the keyboard for full page front and back adverting dollars.

Luckily for this industry "Signs of The Times" came back to us. They're the only real journalistic source this industry has right now, maybe others will try and compete and dig deeper beyond the "Buzzwords" as SOT has.

One day maybe we'll see a seminar education class that discusses the pro's and con's of both light sources, but I think we are a VERY long way away from that the way money, favoritism and relationship building has gone in our associations. We need a good electrical engineer to do this because if you have a rep from one of either camps then it just becomes bias and both sides have hangups.

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You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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Oh, just heard. John's no longer with the Ventex as of a couple of weeks ago.

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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But Erik...you can re-use the GTO wire with the Ventex LED system! According to the guy who constantly calls me that savings alone almost pays for the retrofit labor. :crazy:(or at least the sales pitch I get claims that)

It's so energy efficient the power company will pay you to illuminate the sign!

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"Aye.....Yes, I've heard....Kills men by the hundreds......And if HE were here......he'd consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse."

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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nice job Erik, what happened to John. I saw him in december at AC. .

Been out of the loop for a while, Doing installs everyday all over the state. I even got to do a neon service call. and swap out a ventex 9030.

GOOD things happen for a reason......

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Heh, longtime no talk. I've been texting you for a few months all to find out yesterday the "Sean" I've been texting is someone else. LoL!!

He was like "who is this?...I don't know neon" :lol_hitting:

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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I talked to John Boyd- no longer with Ventex, as Eric said. He rubbed in the fact he's enjoying the 82 degree weather in Florida. He is currently pondering his next career move.

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and Sean is terrible about returning emails in a timely fashion.

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Yeah? He say why he fudged his numbers for the Neon transformer and retrofit ROI?

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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