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Outdoor LED Signs 101: 5 Tips for Success

July 30, 2017

Outdoor LED Signs 101: 5 Tips for Success

As more and more organizations adopt digital signage displays and kiosks to communicate everything from traffic information to restaurant menu items, it becomes more important for value-added resellers in the pro AV space to design solutions that are closely matched to the exact environment where they will be deployed.

On the surface, when it comes to designing an outdoor, LED digital-signage solution for a client, there are a few differences when compared with an indoor solution.

Beyond content delivery, the few differences are palpable and sometimes subtle, but make no mistake about it, VARs want to pay close attention to these important distinctions that could determine whether an outdoor LED installation is a success or a failure.

The main considerations are whether or not the monitors will be used to display interactive content, how bright they are, and how rugged they are to operate in extreme environments and stormy conditions.

The good news for VARs is that manufacturers are producing a greater selection of LED panels designed specifically for outdoor use in sizes of up to about 55 to 65 inches diagonal.

VARs should absolutely insist that LED panels selected for an outdoor digital signage project are designed to rugged specifications for outdoor use, lest they run the risk of failure.

Here's a look at some of the primary things to consider when selling an outdoor LED digital signage solution to a customer:

1. Brightness

Brightness is probably the most important factor to consider when choosing an LED display for an outdoor digital signage project, followed closely by contrast. Selecting high-brightness, high-contrast displays is especially important if they are going to be exposed to direct sunlight.

Even when mounted under an awning or other protective enclosure, most monitors will not be bright enough to operate in direct sunlight unless they have brightness ratings of 2,000 nits or higher. (A nit is another way of measuring brightness output.)

Outdoor-rated LED displays are now available in sizes up to about 55 inches diagonal, and can be installed with environmental enclosures, if necessary, for even larger screens.

In addition, manufacturers are producing LED displays offering crisp, high-contrast images with ultra-fine pitch and nearly invisible bezels?a major bonus for an outdoor LED installation.

2. Location

Another consideration is whether the LED signage will be interactive or not. LED monitors exposed to prolonged periods of direct sunlight may get too hot to be effective as an interactive touch display.

VARs may want to suggest that interactive LED monitors installed in areas with direct sunlight be placed under a high-quality awning or moved to a location out of the sun. Newer LED monitors are also being designed with vandal-resistant protective cover glass?an important consideration in high-traffic or urban locations.

3. Water and moisture resistance

In general, pro AV hardware does not typically like to operate under high humidity conditions, and spec sheets supplied with the unit will indicate ideal operating ranges. Ideally, VARs should specify LED panels that can operate in the range of 70-77 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity in the range of 35-65 percent. Any higher humidity level and the unit could fail to operate until levels come down again.

The IP (ingress protection) rating measures water resistance and protection against solid object contact. It also describes how to protect the display when exposed to various conditions and substances. Look for high IP ratings for both moisture and solid object intrusion.

4. Ruggedness

When specifying an LED monitor, take into consideration how rugged the unit is. For example, monitors designed specifically for indoor applications should not be jury-rigged to perform under extreme conditions. VARs and installers that try such an approach risk losing customers when the digital signage solution fails due to cost cutting.

It's always best to specify an LED display that was designed solely for use under extreme outdoor conditions, and the price of such technology should always be clearly built into any client budget. Try to specify displays with protective glass optically bonded to the LED display surface, thereby removing any air cavity that could invite condensation.

5. Temperature range

Fortunately, current LED technology offers a wide array of monitors capable of operating under the most extreme temperature conditions.

VARs should seek outdoor-rated LED displays thatwhich have an operating range of -40 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit and, better still, within an environmental enclosure to keep out dust and other fine particles from interfering with proper operation of the display.

How have these factors affected your outdoor LED installation?