Channel letters get their name from the internal “channel” contained by each letter. The internal channel is also where the letter illumination is housed. The side of a formed channel letter is called the “return”, and the return forms the letter enclosure (channel.)
The letter return can be painted a custom color per the client’s wishes. This can be either a logo color or an attractive contrast to the face color.
The face of a channel letter is typically constructed of acrylic. Acrylic is a translucent material that comes in many different color options, and permits great flexibility in the finished letter appearance.
The channel is typically constructed of aluminum, but steel is also used. Aluminum is a viable option, as it is both lightweight and does not rust.
Channel letters come in 4 basic configurations:
- Front Lit
- Reverse Lit (or “halo lit”)
- Front/Back Lit
- Open Face
Front lit channel letters are the most common letter configuration. As the title implies, this letter type emits illumination only from the front (face) of the letters. Front lit letters are also called “standard” channel letters.
Reverse lit channel letters emit illumination only from the back of the letters. Reverse lit channel letters have sealed faces, and the illumination forms behind these letters. Reverse channel letters are also called “halo lit” letters.
Front/back lit letters produce illumination from both the front and back of the letters, giving them a dynamic and dramatic appearance.
Last, open face channel letters are less common but can have a spectacular impact in the right location. Open Face letters are open only at the face, and have a thinner return (3” instead of the usual 5”.)
Channel letters are typically illuminated with LED, but neon is still utilized periodically. Either can be a viable illumination option, depending on the circumstances. Please see our Illumination page for further information.
Non-illuminated channel letters are also sometimes specified. They are less common than illuminated letters but are perfectly appropriate for certain applications.
Channel letters are typically mounted in one of two ways: flush mount or raceway. Flush mounted channel letters are affixed directly to the substrate of the building. Raceway mounted channel letters are affixed to a rectangular structure called a “raceway”, and the raceway is then mounted to the surface of the building. Raceway mounting has the advantage of fewer mounting holes.
Overall, channel letters can be an attractive and compelling form of electrical signage. Contact us for a fast wholesale channel letter quotation.