Replacing an Old Pan-Faced Backlit Sign

Hi all. I had a quick question. I recently had a client come in looking for a replacement backlit sign face. His old sign had two pan-faced panels and fluorescents behind, but he is hoping for one affordable sign panel. Does anyone know if 3/16 Lexan can safely replace old pan faces? I guess my concern is that the sign face would be 2.5" closer to the old bulbs and whether that could be an issue with heat?

We don't produce pan faces in-house, so the price to the customer may be out of his budget. Any info is greatly appreciated.
Image 10-24-20 at 2.18 PM-3.jpg
 

Johnny Best

Very Active Member
Lamps should usually be 6" away from faces so as not to create hot spots. That is a standard sign size, 4x6. for pan faces and you might find some good prices on new pan faces that will look a lot nicer that just flat faces.
 
Lamps should usually be 6" away from faces so as not to create hot spots. That is a standard sign size, 4x6. for pan faces and you might find some good prices on new pan faces that will look a lot nicer that just flat faces.
Thanks Johnny from Buffalo. Big Bills fan here.

I will reach out to some of my wholesalers, but do you have a go-to source for pan faces?
 

signbrad

Member
Pan faces have a logical purpose. They allow for a skinnier, lighter-weight sign cabinet. Presumably, the cabinet is then cheaper to fabricate and easier to install. The returns molded into the pan allow for the light distribution that is necessary to avoid the hot spots and shadows that clearly reveal the locations of lamps, poles, braces, etc., the mark of an amateur. There is nothing uglier or more distracting, or more unprofessional-looking in a lighted sign.

Another advantage of a pan is the rigidity added to the face, added protection against bowing, and, ultimately, a blowout (this is also the advantage of embossed lettering). For this reason, a molded pan can often be made out of thinner plastic than a flat face, again making it cheaper and lighter. Further, cabinets made for pans are often designed to accept a face no thicker than 1/8-inch, making it difficult to force a thicker material into the groove, and worse, turning it into a nightmare to service.

If the cabinet was designed for pans it should be re-faced with pans.

But it's cheaper to use flat plastic, isn't it?. Of course, it is. Similarly, back in the day, it was cheaper to use construction grade plywood for signs, rather than MDO. It was cheaper to use hardware store paint rather than lettering enamel. But I never considered these arguments to be valid. If someone asked me, "Isn't there a way to make it cheaper?" I never suggested not using the appropriate substrate.
By the same token, I would never suggest flat plastic for a cabinet made for pans.

Many people say, "That's not in my budget." They don't really have a "sign budget," of course. I've rarely met a client that does. What they really mean is that they foolishly did not budget anything for signage because they didn't think of it. And now they want you to be unprofessional and deviate from accepted industry practice just to save them a few dollars.

What if the client didn't budget for utilities? Will the light company cut them a deal? What if they didn't budget for a phone?
I am not swayed by the "budget argument" as a reason to offer slipshod work. But many are, as there are a ton of crappy-looking lighted signs out there. More than I have ever seen in my life. But I am not responsible for any of them.;)

I was just told by someone that proofed this comment for me that my tone is "pompous *ss."
But, I am too tired to re-write. Sorry.:(
Brad in Kansas City
 
Pan faces have a logical purpose. They allow for a skinnier, lighter-weight sign cabinet. Presumably, the cabinet is then cheaper to fabricate and easier to install. The returns molded into the pan allow for the light distribution that is necessary to avoid the hot spots and shadows that clearly reveal the locations of lamps, poles, braces, etc., the mark of an amateur. There is nothing uglier or more distracting, or more unprofessional-looking in a lighted sign.

Another advantage of a pan is the rigidity added to the face, added protection against bowing, and, ultimately, a blowout (this is also the advantage of embossed lettering). For this reason, a molded pan can often be made out of thinner plastic than a flat face, again making it cheaper and lighter. Further, cabinets made for pans are often designed to accept a face no thicker than 1/8-inch, making it difficult to force a thicker material into the groove, and worse, turning it into a nightmare to service.

If the cabinet was designed for pans it should be re-faced with pans.

But it's cheaper to use flat plastic, isn't it?. Of course, it is. Similarly, back in the day, it was cheaper to use construction grade plywood for signs, rather than MDO. It was cheaper to use hardware store paint rather than lettering enamel. But I never considered these arguments to be valid. If someone asked me, "Isn't there a way to make it cheaper?" I never suggested not using the appropriate substrate.
By the same token, I would never suggest flat plastic for a cabinet made for pans.

Many people say, "That's not in my budget." They don't really have a "sign budget," of course. I've rarely met a client that does. What they really mean is that they foolishly did not budget anything for signage because they didn't think of it. And now they want you to be unprofessional and deviate from accepted industry practice just to save them a few dollars.

What if the client didn't budget for utilities? Will the light company cut them a deal? What if they didn't budget for a phone?
I am not swayed by the "budget argument" as a reason to offer slipshod work. But many are, as there are a ton of crappy-looking lighted signs out there. More than I have ever seen in my life. But I am not responsible for any of them.;)

I was just told by someone that proofed this comment for me that my tone is "pompous *ss."
But, I am too tired to re-write. Sorry.:(
Brad in Kansas City

Ha. A little pompous maybe, but I get the sentiment and appreciate the honesty. I am not inclined to cut corners either, (thus the question). But I am inclined to serve my customers whenever possible, (thus the question).
 

Z SIGNS

Member
The pan face is not that much more money.
You could still do a nicer job. Without it being "slipshod"
Get rid of the tubes.
Install the right leds so it lights up nice.
The face is smallish. 1/8" polycarb could work.
Put some screws through edge to feel good.
 

signbrad

Member
You could still do a nicer job. Without it being "slipshod"
Get rid of the tubes.
Install the right leds so it lights up nice.
The face is smallish. 1/8" polycarb could work.
Put some screws through edge to feel good.
This is worth looking into. Some LED lamps may allow the face to be closer without showing "dots" of light. And I have used top corner screws to ward against blowout of a polycarbonate face when a hanging bar is not feasible. Screw holes do not cause cracks in polycarbonate the way they do in acrylic.

Brad
 

MikePro

Member
we've done pan-formed tenant replaces "on the cheap" by jigsaw cutting out a square/flat-portion of the face and gluing&rivoting a polycarb face over the top. paint the border black or opaque to match the sign cabinet and you can hardly tell. Basically using the formed perimeter as the new face's "retainer".

that being said, that face isn't really that big.... you should be able to get a new one properly thermal-formed for less than you'd think, or +1 to suggestion above to converting to LED would allow a flat-faced replacement.
 

signbrad

Member
we've done pan-formed tenant replaces "on the cheap" by jigsaw cutting out a square/flat-portion of the face and gluing&rivoting a polycarb face over the top. paint the border black or opaque to match the sign cabinet and you can hardly tell. Basically using the formed perimeter as the new face's "retainer".
Mike, I have done this more times than I care to admit--back in my "snapper" days!
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
we've done pan-formed tenant replaces "on the cheap" by jigsaw cutting out a square/flat-portion of the face and gluing&rivoting a polycarb face over the top. paint the border black or opaque to match the sign cabinet and you can hardly tell. Basically using the formed perimeter as the new face's "retainer".

that being said, that face isn't really that big.... you should be able to get a new one properly thermal-formed for less than you'd think, or +1 to suggestion above to converting to LED would allow a flat-faced replacement.

I was thinking the same thing. Anyone (customer here, not the OP) wanting to save money on a 4 x 6 ..... their elevator just isn't going up to the top floor. For the OP, it's always about saving the customer money and still giving him/her a good job, without giving up integrity, both in yourself..... and the sign being replaced.

By the way, you indicate the size of the panels, but how much flange is there to fit behind the retainers ?? What size are the actual retainers ??​
 

Todd Jelle

New Member
Hanley perimeter LEDs & flat faces, We do it all the time , but only on signs 4x8 & smaller, as long as there is at least a 1.5" retainer.
Optionally install additional 1.5" or 2" light aluminum angle to the top & bottom to prevent blow outs.

Perimeter LEDs or new pan faces is better than the face being too close to the lamps. Its the worst example of a sign I've ever seen.
 

JBurton

Signtologist
Am I the only one who read California Pants?
I too would look into doing LED retro, but go with an LED that give you a 5-10 years parts warranty at least. We've been running principals forever, and if we have a power supply go out, just call up GSG and get a replacement coming. Have yet to run into the need to register the products or send back the defectives...
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
Am I the only one who read California Pants?
I too would look into doing LED retro, but go with an LED that give you a 5-10 years parts warranty at least. We've been running principals forever, and if we have a power supply go out, just call up GSG and get a replacement coming. Have yet to run into the need to register the products or send back the defectives...

Yep, you're the only one. Guess ya can't read none too good. Go back and stare at it some more and see if any other letters magically appear before your very eyes.
 
Top