Should Signs be Regulated as Lighting Devices?

The answer is a very clear “no.” An article in Signs of the Times magazine explains that electric signs are not lighting devices, per se. Their purpose is not to provide light, but to provide messages. Thus, they should not be regulated as lighting devices. Electric signs need to be bright enough to be legible, but if they’re lit too brightly, then they become less legible. Thus, the sign industry has consistently provided electric signs with appropriate brightness, in order to serve their customers. The article explains these factors in much greater detail. You can read the entire article at

Penn State to Present Lighting Study at American Planning Association’s 2017 National Planning Conference

Penn State University’s Philip Garvey, the Senior Research Associate at the university’s Larson Transportation Institute, will be a featured speaker at the American Planning Association’s 2017 National Planning Conference. His session, entitled “A Guide to National Sign-Illumination Standards,” will be presented on Saturday May 6 at 2:30. He will be joined by his colleague, Jennie Nolon Blanchard, and Cleveland State University Professor Alan Weinstein.

The APA website’s preview of the session states, “Take the guesswork out of developing lighting regulations for signs. Learn about new, first-of-their-kind national sign-illumination standards, based on research conducted at the Larson Transportation Institute at Pennsylvania State University.”

What Types of Lighting are used to Internally Illuminate Signs?

The three primary types have been fluorescent, neon and LEDs for at least two decades, but the ratio of each has drastically changed. An industry trade journal, Signs of the Times, has traditionally tracked these changes through industry surveys. Its most recent such survey was published in its March 2015 edition. It notes that (Table 4), in 2014, sign companies reported that LEDs illuminated nearly 60% of all electric signs. In contrast, that figure was 14.7% in 2006. Over that same time period, the percentages for fluorescent and neon dropped from 44.5% to 25.6% and from 34.1% to 12.3%, respectively. The full report can be read in that magazine’s online, digital edition at the following link.