Why Knowing The LED Density Is Important When Purchasing LED Signs

This is a follow up to my article on comparing quotes for LED Signs. In that article I mentioned there were technical reasons why it is better to have more LEDs in each pixel. In this article I am going to explain a few of those reasons.

Reason #1

LEDs have a unique degredation pattern. They lose approximately 20% of their brightness in the first 2,000 hours of use. After that the loss of brightness slows down to the point where they will last for approximately 100,000 hours total. This is true for all LEDs, there is no way around it, so don’t be fooled by talk of ‘special’ LEDs.

That means that Outdoor Electronic LED Signs which are rated at 5,000 NITs  will drop to approximately 4,000 NITs in the first 3 months.

For those of you who do not know,  a NIT is a  measurement of brightness, in North America the sun average sunlight is rated at approximately 5,000 NITs.  So, an LED sign must be at least that bright to compete with direct sunlight. For the sake of comparison, a computer monitor will range from 250-500 NITs which is why it is hard to see your laptop screen outside during the day.

The more LEDs there are in each pixel, the higher the LED Density is, the brighter the sign will be.

It is better to have an LED Sign with a high LED Density. This will help help to maintain the brightness level of your sign.

Reason #2

One way companies who use lower LED Densities compensate for this lower brightness is to ‘overpower’ the LEDs. This means they put more electricity into each LED to make it brighter. This increases the degredation rate of the LEDs shortening their lifespan.

If an LED Sign has more LEDs in each pixel there will be no need to overpower the LEDs which will not only reduce the amount of electricity your sign uses but will help to preserve your LEDs and their brightness.

Conclusions

When you are shopping around to find LED Signs to invest in, make sure you select one with a high LED Density.  Also, make sure the sign you are looking to investing in is rated at 5,000+ NITs. This will help to protect your investment and insure you get the maximum benefit possible for the entire life of your LED Signs.

LED Sign Resources

Today is going to be a quick post with some links to websites with more information on LED Signs.

If you read these you will get more information on LED Signs. Some of the information is commercial in nature but all of the information is useful in deciding whether or not to invest in LED Signs.

If you have any questions reagrding LED Signs you can always reach me via email at keith at icatchdisplays.com.

The 3 Ways LED Signs Are Manufactured – And Why You Should Care

In a nutshell here how you make LED Signs:

  1. Make a circuit board to control the LEDs
  2. Connect The LEDs to the circuit board
  3. Provide Electricity

Obviously there is more to making LED Signs. But those technical details are common to ALL LED Signs. In this article we are focusing on the the differences in manufacturing as that is the critical information someone looking to invest in LED Signs needs to know.

The 3 different manufacturing methods all stem from one issue: Protecting the sign from the elements.

Each of the three methods has its advatanges and disadvantages. If you understand these you will be able to make a much more informed purchasing decision.

Method #1

The first way to manufacture LED Signs is to solder the LEDs directly to a circuit board.  Then an Acrylic or Plastic face is placed over the sign the seal it and protect the circuit boards. Take a look at this illustration to get an idea of what this would look like:

LED Sign Using A Soldering & A Faceshield

LED Sign Using A Soldering & A Faceshield

I am not going to spend a lot of time on this method as I just posted an article titled Faceshields, An LED Sign Saver? last friday. You can click the link if you missed the post and would like more information. Let me just provide a quick recap here:

  • This is cheapest way to manufacture LED Signs
  • These savings are rarely if ever passed on to the consumer
  • The faceshield creates glare which reduces the visibility of the LED Sign during the day
  • In my opinion, the effectiveness of the faceshield in weatherproofing the sign is questionable.
  • If there is a problem with an LED an entire circuit board must be replaced which leads to a ‘quilting’ effect in the LED Sign because the newer section is brighter
  • I do NOT recommend this manufacturing method

Method #2

Method #2 is a step up from the shield method. In this method the LEDs are still soldered directly to a circuit board BUT the entire face is weatherproofed. Take a look at this illustration:

LED Sign With Soldered LEDs & Fully Sealed Face

LED Sign With Soldered LEDs & Fully Sealed Face

This method is far superior to using a faceshield. For one thing you instantly eliminate the glare created by the faceshield increasing the visibility of your LED Signs. Also, this method of weatherproofing seems to be much more effective. If you knew which brands to look for you could drive around your town during a storm and you would find very few signs made this way having any problems.

There is however still a drawback to this method.

If there is aproblem with any of the LEDs an entire circuit board must be replaced. Again, this leads to a quilting effect on your LED Sign with the newer LEDs being brighter than the older ones.

Method #3

With the third, and last, method the LEDs are placed in a sealed, removeable pixel which has pins which plug into the circuit board. The face over the circuit board is also sealed. Look at this illustration:

LD Sign With Removeable Pixels

LED Sign With Removeable Pixels

Obviously there is no faceshield with this method which eliminates the glare issue. Again, if you knew which brands to look for and you drove around your town during a storm you find no weatherproofing issues with this method.

One of the big advantages of this manufacturing method is the elimination of the ‘quilting’ problem. If one of the LEDs has a problem you simply pop out that pixel and pop in a replacement. You don’t even have to turn off the sign to do this! That means instead of an enitr circuit board sized section being brighter, only the LEDs in the newer Pixel will be brighter.

This is, in my opinion, the best method of manufacturing. LED Signs. It has all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of the other methods.

If you would like to read more about LED Sign technology check out this link.

Faceshields, An LED Sign Saver?

First let me explain what a faceshield is.

One of the ways to manufacture LED Signs is to put a piece of Acrylic or plastic in front of the the LEDs to seal the LED Sign. Take a look at this illustration:

LED Sign With Face Shield

LED Sign With Face Shield

Manufacturers who use this method of sealing their LED Signs tout it as protection against vandals. Is this true? Should you make sure you invest in LED Signs with a faceshield? Let’s think about it.

If you were a vandal would you spend your time in front of a sign that was flashing, blinking, and attracting the attention of the all the drivers going by? I think you would be more likely to spend your time in dark areas where you could cause your mischief unnoticed.

Out of all the LED Signs my company has sold we have NEVER received a report of one being vandalized. Not one.

If faceshields don’t really help to protect the LED Sign why use one? I have only come up with one answer: cheaper production. Soldering the LEDs directly to a circuit board and then sealing the whole thing with a faceshield is the least expensive way to manufacture an LED Sign.

That should result in a price break for the consumer but somehow it never seems to work out that way.

My company brokers LED Signs which means we can sell anybodies products. We will not sell LED Signs with faceshields and here is why:

LED Signs with faceshields seem to have more problems. This is just observation on my part, driving around my town and seeing which signs seem to have problems on a consistent basis. My guess is that faceshields are an inferior method of sealing LED Signs as I notice the most problems during inclement weather.

The next problem is that faceshield produce glare. As the sun shines on the face of the sign a certain amount of the light is reflected back, off the faceshield, at the observer which reduces the apparent brightness of the LEDs behind the faceshield. If there are LED Signs in your town, drive around and take a look at them. Compare the brightness of a sign with a faceshield and one without a faceshield **during the day** (pretty much all LED Signs look good at night as there is no daylight to ‘outshine’).

So, in my educated opinion, faceshields are not the way to go. Find a brand without a faceshield and you will be happier in the long run.

If you would like to read more information on LED Sign technology, I have written a ‘technology summary’ at hubpages.com/hub/LED-Signs-LED-Displays. Or just wait and I will write more in depth articles on the technology side of LED Signs here on this blog.

If you have questions you can always send them to me at keith*at*icatchdisplays.com (just replace the “*at*” with “@”).

Will LED Signs Increase Your Business?

If you have been considering investing in LED Signs or LED Displays you might have heard a sales pitch from a salesman already, promising massive increases in sales. I have heard sales people quote anywhere from 10% to 150% increases. The question you have to ask yourself is “will a set of LED Signs REALLY increase business”. After all, the salesman makes his living from selling.

As I have nothing to sell on this site and have no way of knowing who reads this blog you can trust the answer I am about to give you.

There are a certain number of people who drive by your business everyday. Lets refer to that number as X.

Of the people who pass your business a certain percentage will notice your business. Lets call that percentage Y.

Now for the last part of the equation. Of the number of people who notice your business, there will be a percentage who actually pull in and buy something from you. Let’s call that percentage Z.

There is nothing you can do to increase X, it is what it is. That is why businesses put themselves on the busiest streets they can afford to be on.

Let’s take a look at an example (these numbers are made up and only for the purpose of illustration):

  • Traffic Passing A Business Daily (X) : 5,000
  • Percentage Who Notice The Business (Y) : 10%
  • Percentage of Y Who Actually Buy Something (Z) : 20%

Okay, if we do the math ( (X * Y)*Z ) this is what we find:

(5000 * .1) * .2 = 100

That is 200 people of the 10,000 passing everyday who actually pull in and buy something.

This is where LED Signs come in. Imagine an LED Sign in front of this business blinking and flashing highly targeted sales messages to that traffice.

There are 2 things which will happen. More people will notice your business (increasing Y) and more people will pull in and buy something (increasing Z).

Let’s assume a 20% increase in Y (the people who notice the business) and a 10% increase in Z (the people who actually buy something) and then rework the formula from above:

(5000 * .3) * .3 = 450

That is an extra 350 people who pull in and buy something everyday or 10,500 per month.

Now here is the magic, if this hypothetical business owner leases the LED Signs and has a payment of $1200 a month, they only need the extra people to buy an extra $0.11 in profit for the sign to pay for itself.  Every penny or dollar of profit the additional people buying from the business spends is pure profit. After the five year lease is up, it all becomes profit.

Now, back to our original question: “will a set of LED Signs REALLY increase business”

The simple math says yes. The more you attract attention to your business, the more people will pull in and buy from you.

Why In The World Would I Want A Grayscale LED Sign?

Before I answer that question I should explain what a Grayscale LED Sign is for those who don’t know.

What Is A Grayscale LED Sign

A Grayscale LED Sign is a hybrid of a Monochrome LED Sign and a Color Video LED Sign.

They only use 1 color LED (red or amber) but they can display 256 SHADES of that color. They are like black and white TVs which only really have black and white but, through the use of varying shades,  give the appearance of gray.

Because of this TV like use of shades, Grayscale LED Signs can display higher quality animations then Monochrome LED Signs.

48x160_shades_memorial

A Grayscale Animation

If you look at the picture to the right you will see a sample of a grayscale LED animation.

Okay, Okay. But Why Buy One?

Grayscale LED Signs allow you to have a higher level of graphics capability than Monochrome LED Signs but they cost significantly less than Color LED Signs.

If you think your business could benefit from the expanded graphics capabilities but your budget won’t cover  Color LED Signs, this might be the solution for you.

There are two drawbacks to Grayscale LED Signs you need to consider though:

  1. They cost more than Monochrome LED Signs
  2. They are harder to program effectively than Monochrome LED Signs
Another Grayscale Animation

Another Grayscale Animation

If you are considering investing in one of these, you need to be realistic about your ability and willingness to create and program graphics. If you will not have the extra time or ability to for the more complicated programming, you should go with a Monochrome LED Sign. Otherwise you will end up not using the added grayscale capabilities, your sign will look just like a Monochrome LED Sign, and you will have wasted the extra money the Grayscale LED Sign cost.

If you are dead set on Grayscale LED Signs and know you don’t have the time or inclination to create fresh graphics for your sign, there are content management companies out there who will create graphics for you, for a fee. But that is a topic for another post.

LED Sign Information – Got Questions? Eric Has Answers!

Hello Everyone,

My Name is Eric Stevens.  I have been designing, selling and installing LED Signs for nearly a decade now and I would like to make myself available to answer whatever questions you may have about purchasing an LED  Sign.  Leave your question here on this blog and I will answer it or you can email me (eric@icatchdisplays.com)

You can also visit my company website which is www.icatchdisplays.com .  Our website is a great resource for information in LED Signs including pricing, financing and installation information.

Eric Stevens
iCatch Displays
National Sales Manager
www.icatchdisplays.com